Tag Archives: Local Business

How to Support Local Businesses During COVID-19

The past few weeks have been a trying time for many Canadians, both personally and financially.  One sector of the economy that has been particularly hard hit by the lockdown is local and small businesses. Unfortunately, many companies have been forced to close their doors, while others are struggling to make ends meet.  Although online support has been fantastic, there still needs to be more done instead of simply “liking” a post or photo.

Here are some simple ways that you can support local businesses:

1. Participate in Takeout Wednesday
Takeout Wednesday is just as it sounds. The idea was started by restaurant owners to raise awareness that while it may not look like it, many restaurants remain open for takeout and delivery.  So, every Wednesday, you can show your support by purchasing lunch or dinner from a local establishment.  Personally, I recommend, delivery, as it allows you to continue social distancing, and avoid crowded restaurant lobbies.

2. Purchase a Gift Card
If you don’t feel a need to buy anything at this time, you can still show your support by purchasing a gift card or credit for your favourite restaurants, stores, salons and spas.

3. Online Services
While it may not seem so, many local businesses are currently offering ways you can purchase their products or services from the comfort of your homes.  Check if your favourite place offers online purchases.

4. Tips
When possible, simply tip or give some extra money to the people helping out.  Whether it’s the delivery person or someone who may not necessarily be in a position that normally receives a gratuity, these days it is certainly appreciated by frontline workers.

5. Reschedule Instead of Refunding
If you have an event coming up, such as an appointment with your hairdresser or barbershop, simply reschedule for a later date instead of asking for a refund.  Even if you haven’t paid for anything, trust me, they will appreciate the support

6. Schedule an Appointment or Make a Reservation
Another way to support small businesses is by scheduling an appointment at a salon, spa or making a reservation for months into the future at your favourite restaurant.  While many services are on hold until the lockdown ends, many businesses are still willing to book appointments and take reservations.

7. Share
While liking a post is helpful to gain popularity, you can also share your own posts about the local business you support to raise more awareness and gain even more support.

8. Don’t Forget About Summer Contractors
While we are still under lockdown, you can still continue with any summer outdoor home improvement project, from fixing your roof to doing dome landscaping.  Seasonal workers only have a short window to do this work, so book now.

9. Donate
If you don’t shop locally, it is still great to show support.  You can simply make a donation by going to a gofundme page.

This virus has tested many Canadians and has been hard on everyone, however with a bit of help, we can all support local businesses until there is an end to social distancing.

 

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Top Nine Ways To Celebrate The Valentine’s Day Long Weekend

Valentine’s Day (or as some people like to call it, the International Day of Love) is almost here, and we have you covered for great ideas to celebrate. Whether you are spending some quality alone time, hanging out with your friends or with that special someone, here are SQM’s top nine ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day 2020. 

“Pal-entine’s” Day.

Who says Valentine’s Day needs to be all about romance, candlelit dinners and flowers? Grab your friends, order a pizza and dessert and have yourselves a party. Celebrate your friendship having a board game night, having a movie marathon with your favourite rom-coms or sci-fi flicks, or complete a thousand-piece puzzle. Take time to celebrate your friendship and enjoy each other’s company. 

Ikea Date

This year, Ikea is rolling out the red carpet by offering a three-course meal, all for the low low price of $29.99 for members and $34.99 for non-members. Enjoy a dinner for two and then have the time of your life roaming the store looking for the great next purchase. 

Dinner and a Show

This is a classic date night option for a reason. It gives you and that special someone a reason to get dressed up, eat a delicious meal, talk about the meaning of life while staring deeply into each other’s eyes. Obviously, this will all be done over a shared plate of spaghetti (a la The Lady and the Tramp) before going to enjoy a night of cinematic excitement, artistic talent or theatrical drama. Check your local listings for great shows and performances scheduled around Valentine’s Day.

Take A Class Together

Get out of your comfort zone and bond with the ones you love by checking out a new activity together. Whether that’s trying out a cooking class to teach you the skills to master that Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe, busting out a dance move or two at a salsa or ballroom dance class, or learning to find your inner peace through meditation and yoga.

Weekend Getaway

Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to get away for the weekend. Lucky for you, this year Valentine’s Day falls right before the Family Day long weekend. Take this opportunity to head out of the city for a cozy getaway with that special someone. Visit Montreal to experience the architecture, food and culture, or go to Blue Mountain for skiing. If neither of those options sound like your cup of tea, try going to the wine country and see if you can book a wine tasting tour.

Recreate your first date or favourite date

A wonderful and meaningful way to spend your Valentine’s Day with that special someone is recreating your first date. It is such a romantic and thoughtful gesture that really shows that you care.

NBA All-Star Weekend

For all you basketball fans, whether you’re #TeamGiannis or #TeamLeBron, get together with your friends and family to cheer on your team this Sunday!

Give Back

During the season of love, show how much you love and care about your community by giving back. Grab your friends, family and partner and volunteer to help the less fortunate.

Treat Yourself: Self Love

Take some time out of your busy schedule and treat yourself with some “me time” and self-care. Whether that means, getting a massage or your nails done, having a quiet night in or treating yourself to a new book or sweater, take the time to appreciate yourself and all the hard work that you do throughout the year.

 

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Leaving The Competition In The Dust

For my last blog, I highlighted a family-run dry cleaning business so while I’m on the topic of household-related items I wanted to talk about a family-run appliance repair store called York Appliance Vacuums.

The first time I visited the store, I happened to be in the area and so stopped in, as I was having problems with my Shop-Vac. I was very pleased that within 10 minutes, they were able to fix my problem efficiently and at a reasonable price. In fact, I was even given a longer cord to replace my other one, making it much better.

In more recent times, I was having trouble with my Dyson vacuum, so I called up York Appliance to ask for help, as I’ve been pleased with their service in the past. They don’t normally work on Dyson vacuums (Dyson apparently does their own repairs) but they took the time to look at it for about 15 minutes and gave me suggestions and ideas that might fix the problem.

Often these days in business, people are just looking for instant gratification and hang up the phone if they don’t get a sale right away. Even though this call would not result in a sale, the owner spent some time to keep a customer like myself happy and engaged.

If you’re looking to support a family business, or for a reputable place to buy, service, or fix your vacuums, take a look at York Appliance.

York Appliance Vacuums
416-488-3231
https://yorkappliance.ca/

 

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Clean-Cut Customer Service

As much as I’m trying to share information about companies that are across Canada and North America, I do like to occasionally give a shout out to local businesses that I’m familiar with.  One such company is Stork Cleaners, a laundry and dry cleaning business that’s been serving the local community since 1964.

Stork Cleaners happens to be owned by a gentleman named Fred, who lives in my neighbourhood.  The store was originally owned by Fred’s dad but is now run by him and his sister-in law.  The business has a large following and loyal clientele because they do great work.  Fred even offers a pick-up and drop-off service, knowing that many of his customers are busy and can’t always make it over to the store.  

I personally go to him for my shirts and suits, but I’ve noticed that a lot of people go to him for special items, such as:  wedding dresses, expensive coats, blankets, and other miscellaneous items.

Fred is extremely efficient, organized, and always a pleasure to deal with. If you happen to lose your ticket, Fred keeps his own records so that he can easily keep track of everything and find your items.  If you’re in a time crunch, Fred will do his best to make things work and will package or put your clothes on hangers depending on your preferences. On top of that, he’s very reasonably priced and easy to work with.

For someone looking for a cleaner or to wash more delicate items, I’d suggest Fred and the team at Stork Cleaners.

Stork Cleaners
416-635-0550
storkcleaners.com

 

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Unparalleled Experience

Several months ago, I heard about a popular Middle Eastern restaurant that had opened up in Toronto called Parallel. The restaurant is owned by the Ozery Brothers, of Ozery Bakery fame, and the creators behind the popular pitas that are available across the country and in some select locations in the United States. The Ozery Bakery has been around for more than 20 years and has grown from a small family owned bakery to a staple for alternative bread products. The Ozery Brothers’ new restaurant is sure to become a staple for Middle Eastern cuisine due to the great food, wonderful ambiance, and the overall unique experience that it has to offer.

Where the Ozery Bakery was the creation of just Alon and Guy; Parallel is a collaboration between Alon, Guy and their brother, Aharon. The addition of Aharon is apparent in how the space, location, and ambiance of the restaurant differs from that of Ozery Bakery. By having the three brothers all collaborate together, putting their individual skills and tastes into the restaurant, they have created a restaurant that is bursting with flavour and style.

Parallel itself is a small, open concept space that seats about 75 people. An interesting aspect of the restaurant is that it backs onto the kitchen, allowing diners to see what is happening behind the scenes. The decoration is minimal, though the art pieces that are on the walls, are statement pieces and draw the eye. The high ceilings and the trains that can be seen through the window, give the restaurant a chic, yet warm, ambiance that is reminiscent of a working, living warehouse.

Now, don’t be fooled by the location or the modern ambiance. The food is steeped in tradition, and the dining experience is based in community. The menu is all about shareable items and diners can share beer and food with the table. This adds to the overall experience and charm of the restaurant and makes Parallel a great place for a friendly get together, a date, or a relaxing night out.

The menu offers dishes that suit all likes and dietary lifestyles. Parallel offers gluten free, vegetarian and vegan friendly options, while also offering a selection of diary, gluten and meat dishes. The menu is not overly extensive, but there is enough variety that diners feel like that they can sample a wide variety of flavourful food, and non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages.

The acquaintance who told me about the new restaurant raved about how great it was and told me that they had already decided to go back. They were very excited, but there was a problem; it was so busy, they had to make a reservation a couple of weeks in advance and they didn’t know if they would be able to wait that long. Now I don’t know about you, but when there is a wait list that long, I know that I have to go and see for myself what the craze is about.

So that’s exactly what I did… two weeks after I had made my own reservation.

When I arrived, my guest and I were immediately greeted and escorted to a table that had already been set. The server was great; they were personable, friendly, and full of suggestions. There was a great variety of food and beverages available, and the atmosphere was lively. The Parallel salad was tasty, and the fried cauliflower was amazing! The mushroom dish was unique and delicious. The flavours of each dish were mouth-watering and memorable. They were plated attractively and were a decent portion size; though, I will admit that I found the restaurant to be a little bit on the expensive side, the food and the experience was well worth the money. I can’t wait to go back again and explore more of their menu, because if the food is as flavourful as the cauliflower or the salad, I know that I am in for an exciting treat.

Living in Toronto means that there are tens of thousands of restaurants that are available to choose from; and it has become increasingly difficult to find a unique, fun, and delicious restaurant that stands out. That being said, Parallel is one of those restaurants that is unique, memorable, and different, and in my humble opinion, everyone should try it and see for themselves how great it is.

Parallel is closed Monday and Tuesday, but it is open every other day of the week, offering both brunch and dinner. So, whether you are looking to try a new type of cuisine, impress a dinner date, or have a fun, relaxing brunch with friends or family, Parallel is unparalleled in providing great food and a great atmosphere, and you should definitely stop by to check it out.

Parallel
(416) 516-7765
www.parallelbrothers.com

 

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Cooking Up Five Star Customer Service

Caplan’s Appliances, on Weston Road, south of Eglinton Avenue, is a family-founded appliance store that first opened its doors in the 1940’s.  Their recently renovated store has a wide selection of brands to choose from, including:  Maytag, Whirlpool, Bosch, Sub-Zero, and Wolf, to name a few.  In addition to the long list of brands which they represent, a few years ago they opened up a separate Miele showroom right across the street from the main store.

The owner of Caplan’s, Bob Caplan, is an old friend of mine, and I have been doing business with Bob and his family for many years.  Since I know he treats everyone like he treats me…he probably treats others much better :-)…I’ve always been recommending him to my family and colleagues who have been in need of appliances.

I’ve visited Bob’s store many times before, and I felt that it was time I give his store a shout out, based on my most recent experience there.  Back a couple of months ago, I was in the market for a new stove for my aunt.  My aunt is 93, living on fixed income, and Bob was aware of this. Instead of selling us a high-end appliance, Bob had given the salesperson a heads up and they were able to find us a good quality stove at a reasonable price.

In addition, Caplan’s will offer to deliver the new appliance and take away the old one.  In my aunt’s case, we needed added assistance because the stove was a gas range, and it’s not something you can just easily unplug from the wall.  As a result, you need a gas fitter to disconnect the old one and install the new appliance.  As it turns out, the salesperson was kind enough to find me a gas fitter, and coordinated the timing so we were able to remove the old stove at the same time as they brought the new one in. The fact that they were willing to go the extra mile to help out my aunt for what amounted to a small purchase, just shows how much they care about their business and their customers.

Aside from the gas fitter, Caplan’s has partnerships with other people in the trades, including interior designers, builders, and construction companies. Bob is truly a one-stop solution for all of your appliance needs.

Caplan’s has been around for a long time, and they understand the value of having a customer for life.  Whether you’re looking for a starter or base type of appliance, upgrading to new model, looking to redo your kitchen and get high-end appliances, Bob and his team are there for you.

Caplan’s Appliances
416-767-1655
https://www.caplans.ca/

 

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Introducing Minus H2O

As some of you may know, my business partner and I are currently involved in a company completely unrelated to SQM, known as Minus H2O. Minus H2O is an ever expanding line of super-concentrated household cleaning products.

Presently, we offer three products: a multi-purpose cleaner, a toilet bowl cleaner, and a window and glass cleaner, with more to come in the future. The company was founded with the purpose of addressing significant environmental issues relating to carbon emissions and plastic pollution in consumer packaged goods. When it comes down to it, most consumers don’t realize that when you buy a bottle of cleaner at the store (or many household products), you’re basically paying for water!

In fact, in many cases, up to 98 percent of what’s in the bottle is simply just water. By taking the water out of our product, it becomes 133 times more concentrated than what you’d normally buy in stores. In addition to significant reductions in carbon emissions and the use of much less plastic, consumers also pay a heck of a lot less.

Here’s the math behind our theory….since one capful of Minus H2O makes up an entire litre of cleaning product, each of our bottles will yield in many more litres of cleaning product, as compared to our competition, for a fraction of the cost.

If your average bottle costs $4.00, our 60ml bottle, which makes 8L of cleaning product, will save you $30.00…enough money for you to take a friend to the movies. Our 250 ml bottle makes 33L of cleaning solution, and is calculated to save the average consumer over $125.00…enough money for dinner out. And our 1L bottle makes 133L of cleaning solution, and is calculated to save the companies $500.00….enough for a staff appreciation event!

While I might be somewhat biased, just about everybody who tries the product says that in addition to the above noted benefits, it smells great and works extremely well.

Presently the product is available in Canada, online at Staples, and in the United States on Amazon.

Whether you care about the environment, want to save a helluva lot of money, or a combination of both, I highly encourage you give Minus H2O a try.

As always, thanks in advance for your support and consideration.

Minus H2O
416-847-1029
https://www.minush2o.com/

 

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