Tag Archives: Toronto

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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Winter and Holiday Activities

1. Distillery District

Known for its Christmas Market, the Distillery District transports its guests to a holiday wonderland filled with lights, Christmas stalls filled with food and knickknacks, as well as, live carolling. You can continue the fun by checking out the amazing displays at the annual Toronto Light Festival from January 17th – March 1st, 2020.

2. Hockey

In typical Canadian fashion, what are the holidays without hockey? Check out your local Minor teams, the OHL, the AHL, and if you’re feeling jolly, spring for those NHL tickets. If you’re a Leafs Fanatic, mark your calendars to see the team practice at Nathan Phillps Square on January 9th, 2020!

3. CNE Aurora Winter Festival

This is definitely the place to take your kids. From the rides and games to the ice rink, magical forest, and whimsical holiday-themed events, this is a ton of fun for the family. You can purchase your tickets online (Presto Cardholders get a 15% discount). You can also get your skate on and enjoy free skate rentals on Wednesdays!

4. Ballet

Christmas is the time to see the Nutcracker. Enjoy The National Ballet of Canada’s rendition of Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic until January 4th, 2020.

5. Ice Skating

Show off your skills! Check out DJ Skate Nights the Harbourfront Centre and get free skating lessons at the Bentway Skating Trail. You can also visit Ontario Place, Nathans Phillips Square or your local ice rink.

6. Courthouse visit

For all of you crime show enthusiasts, visit your local courthouse to see a real courtroom proceeding. Check out the court’s website to find out about the proper etiquette and to view the daily court lists to see which cases are being heard.

7. Trivia

Do you know what’s fun? Pub trivia. Go test your vast knowledge of pop culture, history, literature and science, and show off your trivia skills. Bar trivia is not just a holiday classic fun time, but an all year round great way to spend with friends and family.

8. Give back

The holidays are a time for giving. Check out some of the many charities across the city to help those less fortunate this holiday season.

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday season and a happy and healthy new year!

 

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Things to Do for Fall and Halloween

It’s that time of the year again, and with it, is another post about what you can do to make the most out of fall and Halloween. 

  1. Apple Picking: Although it’s getting a little late in the season, there are a variety of different farms that have corn mazes, markets, and activities for kids. Chudleigh’s is a popular farm, where you can pick apples as well as purchase baked goods from their bakery. Another great option is Pingle’s Farm Market, which also has a “fun farm” filled with animals, a giant slide, and a pumpkin cannon show. 
  2. Road Trip: Take a leisurely drive up to St. Jacob’s out west to see the changes in the leaves. While you’re at it, St. Jacob’s has a farmer’s market that goes on year-round on Thursdays and Saturdays.
  3. Wine Tasting: If you’re feeling it, you could also head to the Niagara region for wine tasting. There are a variety of wine tours, including ones on the lake, or ones paired with different types of cheese. 
  4. Haunted Houses: It’s the spirit of Halloween, and no Halloween would be complete without a haunted house. There’s your typical Halloween Haunt at Canada’s Wonderland, where monsters wander the park grounds, and there’s also Black Creek’s True Terror Stories at Pioneer Village in North York. The village has a massive 60-person escape game, where teams work together to solve the curse.
  5. The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Like every October, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is returning to theatres. The movie will be playing in cinemas such as Ted Rogers Cinema and Lower Ossington Theatre throughout the month. 
  6. Night of the Dread: The Clay and Paper Theatre will be hosting The Night of The Dread, a parade full of masks, puppetry, and dancing. The parade will start at Dufferin Grove Park on October 26th, starting at 6:00 pm.
  7. Pumpkins After Dark: Up at Country Heritage Park in Milton, walk along a quarter mile path which showcases over 5,000 jack-o-lanterns and over 100 pumpkin sculptures. It’s a great family event—especially for kids! 

Whatever you choose to do this year, please have a safe, warm, and happy fall season!

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Something to Consider For This Upcoming Election

For this blog post, I’d like to take the opportunity to talk about one of the candidates who is running in the upcoming election, that I personally know. Maria Augimeri is running as the NDP candidate in the riding of Humber River-Black Creek.

I first met Maria several years ago while a member of her family was working at SQM.  At the time, Maria was a City Councillor and she maintained this position for 23 years, until recent changes forced incumbents to run against each other in the last municipal election.   From time to time, we would have a chance to chat and she was always willing to provide me with advice and direction about business projects.  In addition, she would occasionally introduce me to people in the business world, constituents of hers, and even some of the folks at city hall.

Over the time I’ve gotten to know her, I’ve come to realize that she is one of the hardest working politicians out there.  In a day and age where you often hear about lazy politicians who are always on vacation or not doing anything, Maria’s the exact opposite.

She’s a workaholic, always at different meetings, on the phone, and often missing family and social engagements in favour of doing work for the community.  Maria has served, and continues to serves on different boards, including a previous stint as the Chair of the TTC, and her present position on the board for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.  She’ll always take a call from someone who wants to speak to her, and when she’s out in her ward, people will often want to talk and ask her questions on a wide variety of topics.

Perhaps one of the telltale signs about how Maria operates is that I’ve gotten to know other people who were affiliated with her re-election campaign, and many of these people are actually Conservatives or Liberals, who still support Maria and her efforts.  While Maria is running for the NDP and we often disagree on each others views and perspectives I am completely confident that she would make an amazing Member of Parliament, and would be a fantastic representative for the people of Humber River-Black Creek.

If you happen to live in her riding, please consider supporting her. You can do so by making a donation or putting up a lawn sign, but regardless, please know that you are in good hands with Maria.

Maria Augimeri
https://mariaaugimeri.ndp.ca/

 

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