Cross-border shopping is getting less and less tempting. First, a raft of American brands opened stores in Toronto, and now a growing number of shops, including Loft, Ann Taylor, Express and Lululemon, are charging the same prices on both sides of the border. The majority of Aldo’s merchandise is also priced identically, while Abercrombie and sister brand Hollister have lowered Canadian prices from 25 to 30 per cent higher to just five to seven per cent higher (the company says duties account for the vestigial mark-up). The push for price equality can be traced to lower costs, near parity between the two countries’ currencies and that the Internet makes it possible for Canadians to find out easily if they’re getting bilked. Target, we hope you’re taking notes. [Globe and Mail]
Despite attracting thousands of subscribers, Bixi Toronto is still having trouble covering its operating costs two years in. The bike sharing program has only paid back $600,000 of its $4.5 million start-up loan and, since the city guaranteed that loan, city staff are recommending council restructure its relationship with Bixi. (Complicating matters, the Montreal-based company that owns Bixi is reportedly looking to sell off its franchises, including the Toronto one.) Bixi’s balance sheet problems probably won’t spell an imminent end to the heavy black bikes, though: several councillors, Karen Stintz and Mike Layton among them, have already reiterated their support for the idea of bike-sharing. They also repeated the oft-heard call for more bikes and more docking stations as a path to self-sufficiency—though Montreal has 411 stations to Toronto’s 80 and still racks up a $7-million deficit each year. [Torontoist]
By Mariusz Klapacz | Illustration by Cat Yelizarov
I was born in communist Poland and arrived in Canada when I was 12 years old. My parents came for the opportunities, the hope that I might one day get a decent job and build a home and family. By 2001, I was 27 and had spent the past decade in dead-end jobs. I wanted work that I could build a future on, and so I applied at a major grocery chain’s warehouse. They offered me a part-time job at $12 an hour. Thrilled at the idea of working for one of Canada’s most reputable companies, I accepted on the spot.
American superstore Target’s Canadian invasion took a big leap forward today with the opening of 17 new Ontario locations, including those in Toronto’s East York Town Centre and Centrepoint Mall and Etobicoke’s Cloverdale Mall. The stores are still in soft launch mode, which means that, like during the launch of the chain’s Guelph store on March 5, a few snafus are to be expected. The Shoppers World Danforth and the Square One Shopping Centre locations will soft-open March 28, and the brand is promising a splashy grand opening in early April.
Shayne Hughes, the CEO of a California-based business consultancy called Learning as Leadership, recently put a moratorium on interoffice emails. He defended his experiment in Forbes magazine by explaining that he wanted to force his employees to communicate with each other in person. He’s the latest in a line of corporate leaders to encourage face-to-face interaction by prohibiting email. Over the last few years, executives at Intel, Deloitte and Veritas, among other companies, have all instituted versions of the same idea.
The trend is part of an ongoing attempt to address some of the alienating aspects of the digital age: the computer, an otherwise spectacular communication tool, often prevents us from actually talking to each other. Many open-concept offices have been rendered eerily silent as workers spend their days emailing back and forth. In my office, days go by when I don’t know if a colleague who works on another floor is even in the building.
The leases in a building at the centre of Kensington Market expire May 31, which could mean big changes for the eclectic area. The property on the northeast corner of Baldwin and Augusta and extending to 200 Baldwin Street houses five business, including the Casa Acoreana food shop and cafe, whose owner has already said that he can’t afford the landlord’s new rent. Realtor Philip Pick, infamous around Kensington Market for an unsuccessful attempt to bring in a Starbucks, is handling the deal and says he may once again reach out to large chains. “The decision is in the hands of the landlord,” he says. “I just expose it to the open market so that the landlord can make the best possible decision.” The landord had better choose well: a Second Cup that came to the area several years ago was met with such a frosty welcome from locals that it closed after only 6 months. [h/t Toronto Star]
Despite pricey renovations at Sherway Gardens, Vaughan Mills and Square One, Yorkdale Shopping Centre keeps strengthening its claim to the title of the GTA’s best mega-mall. In the wake of some high-profile store launches in 2012, six more global brands are opening their first Canadian location there in 2013. They include: American jeweller David Yurman; upscale menswear designer John Varvatos; British luxury brand Mulberry; U.S. womenswear giant White House Black Market; Zara Home, a home furnishings spinoff from the fast-fashion giant; and AllSaints, a fast-growing British retailer with mid-priced, sombre-coloured clothes for both sexes. Toronto’s first Ferragamo store is also slated to open at Yorkdale this year, as are new locations from Massimo Dutti, Honey and several others. See below for the full list of new and expanded retailers. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
The Royal Canadian Mint will stop distributing pennies to banks and businesses tomorrow, which means that, although the humble copper coin remains legal tender, businesses will now no longer give them as change. The day’s bewildering array of penny-centric articles suggests that Canadians have a strong attachment to the wee copper coin (as well as an awful lot of anxiety about the country’s ability to round to the nearest nickel). Below, the 10 weirdest—and yet strangely touching—send-offs.
Ivy glows like a 1930s starlet. She’s 27, with high, round cheekbones, rosebud lips and luminescent skin. She has worked at three erotic massage parlours, or so-called rub ’n’ tugs, in the GTA, where female attendants offer men “sensual release,” code for a session ending in a hand job. She agreed to tell me her story on the condition that I not reveal her true identity. For her customers, Ivy puts on a breathy Marilyn Monroe voice and wears retro baby doll nighties and stilettos. She mimics her high-pitched greeting for me: “How are you? I can’t wait to get started.” Her act appeals to her clients—typically white professionals who came of age when women like Ivy appeared in every car and scotch ad. Walk-ins can choose from the half-dozen women on shift, though many men pre-book Ivy based on her photo on the spa’s website.
For the past six months, local real estate chatter revolved around Toronto’s cooling housing market. This week presented a refreshing change: three separate stories on how and why the city’s real estate sector is still alive and, in the case of commercial property, in hot demand. Below, we break down what the latest numbers mean. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Bad news: when Target’s first wave of Canadian locations opens this spring, the merchandise will be more expensive than in U.S. stores. Target Canada president Tony Fisher told the Globe and Mail that prices will be set to stay competitive with other Canadian retailers, not U.S. ones. We’re not all that surprised; Canada’s steeper tariffs and fewer economies of scale mean local shoppers are used to paying a little more than Americans. That said, Target is already well-known as a discount store to legions of cross-border shoppers who’ve been exploiting the loonie’s near-parity with the U.S. dollar for years—which means they’ll likely get angry in a hurry once they notice discrepancies. Just ask J.Crew. [Globe and Mail]
Consulting firm Brand Finance Canada released its list of Canada’s top 50 brands earlier this week, and we’d bet the country’s banking executives are feeling pretty pleased with the results. TD Bank’s growing influence in U.S. markets helped it to nab the top spot with an estimated brand value of $10.4 billion, and Canada’s other big banks were close behind. That said, this list skews more corporate and less consumer than a similar ranking from Interbrand, suggesting this stuff isn’t an exact science. Interbrand’s top 10 included Shoppers Drug Mart, Tim Hortons and Lululemon, companies that Brand Finance placed at 20, 25, and 26, respectively.
In January 2011, trendy low-cost giant Target took over 220 leases from not-so-trendy low-cost giant Zellers, and ever since, the latter has been winding down operations. However, it seems Zellers isn’t actually going extinct. Parent company HBC says that three Canadian stores are staying open under the Zellers name, including the store in Toronto’s Kipling Queensway Mall. That location, plus a pair of stores in Vancouver and Montreal, are shifting toward more fashion apparel and higher-end home products. With the first four Toronto-area Target stores opening this spring, we’re curious to see if the refresh is enough to keep the Zellers name alive. [The Now Newspaper]
Toronto city politics hit a new level of crazy at just after one o’clock this morning, when legendary home run hitter and admitted steroid user Jose Canseco outlined his platform to replace Rob Ford as mayor, a feat that would fulfill item six in Canseco’s amazing list of New Year’s resolutions. The erstwhile Blue Jay mused in a semi-intelligible tweet that “Ford too much trouble to be effective gotta fix budget, traffic, get new $ not from taxes, get more new businesses, and help schools.” Alas, the world will never get to see what Toronto would look like under Canseco’s rule—since he’s not a Canadian citizen, he’s not eligible to run. Still, that didn’t stop us from imagining the benefits and drawbacks of his never-to-be mayoralty.
While most rankings of the super-wealthy focus on net worth, it’s hard not to also be curious about how much the not-very-average Joe earns each year. Enter the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which released its latest list of the country’s 100 highest-paid CEOs earlier this week, based on data collected for 2011. According to the CCPA, the average salary of the top 100 Canadian CEOs was $7.7 million (which, the left-leaning think tank pointed out, means they pocket the average Canadian salary of $45,448 in a little over half a day’s work). However, the five Torontonians who cracked the top 10 make considerably more than the average. We break down local bigwigs’ base salaries and mind-blowing bonuses below. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »