Reviews / Canada

Canadian Mom and Pop Shops Vs The Big Box Store


Over the years lots of mom and pops have closed up shop not being able to compete with the big box stores. Some great stores have closed down because of this, but on the other hand some stores that shouldn’t of been in business still; finally closed too.
I find certain items I like to buy at small stores such as flowers including green house plants, and hard to find items. With a recent bad experience at a small pet store (Critter Barn, Exeter Ontario) it has me thinking  there are certain items that your better off buying at a large chain store rather then a small store. Pets at least come with a 7-14 day guarantee where this pet store didn’t care if my turtle died the second I walk out. It was money in her pocket, no replacement or warranty from the time her cash register slammed shut.  Maybe this was just unfortunate luck for me and generally smaller pet stores have more compassion for their animals.

I recently was in a kitchen specialty store (Kulpepper’s) where the owner was very helpful, honest, and even offered me a special order for a Tassimo cup holder. I received a call that evening  letting me know on the status of the order. The owner knows what excellent customer service means and is striving to provide it. If this had been a big box store there would of been little to no expertise and of course the mention of a special order would of had me possibly laughed out of the store.

Honestly, I don’t mind paying a bit extra for a small store that goes the extra mile to provide great customer service and appreciates my business. Of course there are small stores that are just horrible to deal with and aren’t worth your time. How can you tell?
I’ve compliled a small list of what to look for in a mom and pop shop. (feel free to add to my list)
*Inviting atmosphere
*Personal Greeting When You Walk In (Walmart Greeters Excluded)
*Genuine service. Example: they aren’t trying to sell you something you don’t need, and if it’s a specialty store they know their product. They shouldn’t be rude to you.( I just learnt this one, if the owners nasty from the start. Run don’t walk away, no matter how cute their stuff is.)

What do you prefer, The big box or the mom and pop shop? Is there a small store that you’d like to give a shout out too?

Starbucks’ Cake Pop: What Am I Eating?

It’s not a lollipop, a piece of cake, or even a cake on a stick, but a Cake Pop. There are 3 flavours which are part of Starbucks’ new line of treats called “Petites“. Each Petite is supposed to be under 200 calories.

Despite the low-ish calorie count, don’t let it fool you into thinking that it’s “healthy” as the list of (at least half of) the ingredients reads like a chemistry textbook! Click here to read what’s in the Tiramisu Cake Pop.

A barista was handing out these artery clogging fakies and for some reason, I choose the Tiramisu flavour. (I dunno why ’cause I think Tiramisu is gross!) I also had a nibble of the ballet pink Birthday Cake Pop.  Visually, the Petites sure look cute!

Verdict? Both were surrounded by a soft, fake chocolate shell and super sweet with the Tiramisu taking the “cake”. (It didn’t taste like Tiramisu, btw.) The texture of the inside reminded me of marzipan, but it didn’t taste like almonds. I literally looked ’round to see if there was a poster with a description of what I was eating ’cause I didn’t have the faintest.

According to other blogs they’re like $1.50USD/ea which will likely equal $2CAD with a broken down currency calculator. We always get the shaft!

The next time I’m at Starbucks and feel like something sweet, I think I’ll bypass the Petites and bakery items (just as bad – I checked!), and just add a bit of honey/raw sugar to my coffee.

Shocking news! The Beebs Got His Hair Chopped Off. What Do We Think Canada?


So it’s no secret that I don’t mind the Beebs. In fact I repect the kid.  Not only was he born and raised close to where I live but he’s simply Canadian.  Anyways Justin Bieber got his hair chopped off for a more “mature” cut.  What do we think? Hit or miss? Should of he kept his signature locks?  I think it looks cute and trendy. I wonder how many young boys will be at the hair salon tomorrow getting the new Justin do.

*If you can’t take a light hearted joke, maybe just skip past*

Hey Canada, Fave Pizza Joint?


While driving home from Detroit this week we stopped for a bit.  We decided on Hungry Howies. I had never eaten there before but it was only $10 for a large pizza with flavoured crust of our choice and a large bread stix.  It was absolutely fantastic! I hadn’t had pizza that delish in years.  It got me thinking, there just isn’t that many huge pizza franchises in Canada compared to the USA which sucks.  If you had to choose your fave Canadian pizza joint who would you pick?  Toppings?

I guess if I have to stay Canadian I’d have to go with Godfather’s Pizza. I think theres just under 70 of them in Ontario.  My favourite toppings are pineapple, pepperoni, green peppers, mushrooms and bacon.

Some Dishes at Dollarama Contain Lead! Don’t buy or use them!

Lead Dollarama

Wow this is shocking. I was surfing reddit when I came across a post about Dollarama selling plates that contain lead. I just don’t get it, why can’t the use of lead in mugs, dishes, glasses, etc. be banned? Lead exposure can result in serious health risks to children and adults including neurological damage.

Well at least this plate has a warning (although still not justifiable), but I wonder how many dishes out there contain lead and don’t even have a warning on them.

For the sake of your and your family’s health I strongly suggest you do some research on what’s going to be in contact with your food, and eventually your body and make sure it doesn’t pose any health risks.

Vote for Canada’s Best Company 2010

Best Company in Canada 2010

Based on your nominations, it was hard identifying the 3 best companies in Canada last year (2010). Therefore I’ve decided to open the stage for more than just three companies and let your votes decide who the best of the best is!

I’ll try writing something nice about each company in one sentence. – For lowering the free shipping threshold to $25. – For helping revolutionize the concept of buying glasses and contact lenses online at very inexpensive prices and offering thousands of free pairs of glasses this year.

Costco Canada – For reasonable prices, consistency and great customer service.

Indigo / Chapters – For providing a relaxed and quality atmosphere where we can shop for books.

London Drugs –  For continuing to support coupon stacking and the online deals communities.

Lululemon – For supporting a healthy lifestyle and combining this with fashionable high quality clothing and super-friendly staff to create a unique and winning formula.

Porter Airlines – For offering first class-like travel to Canadians at economy class prices

Mountain Equipment Coop – For their return policy and numerous “Made in Canada” products.

Shoppers Drug Mart – For offering the highest value rewards program in the country, the Shoppers Optimum Points.

Now please take a second to vote for Canada’s Best Company of 2010 below. If you leave a company about one of these companies please focus on the positives since this is what this topic is about 😀

[poll id=”4“]

Canada’s Worst Company 2010: Bell Canada

Worst Company Canada

Based on over 1700 votes, Bell Canada is Canada’s Worst Company of 2010. Bell got more than 50% of the votes.

Many readers shared very sad and horrific stories regarding dealing with Bell Canada. I hope the management at Bell take the time to read the comments and feedback and try improving the quality of their business. Alexander Graham Bell, from which Bell Canada acquired its name was a great inventor and innovator. Bell Canada, you don’t need to look far for inspiration.

Vote for Canada’s Worst Company 2010

Worst Company Canada

Based on your nominations, the 3 worst companies in Canada last year (2010) were: Bell Canada, Rogers and Zellers.

Bell Canada has led an evil campaign to try changing the Internet to usage-based billing (capped Internet). They have been pushing the government and other ISPs to enforce these ridiculous policies. Furthermore, Melanie C. summarized everything that’s wrong with Bell:

Their customer service is appalling. Recent news headlines show that they have been fined (something like 1.2 million) for violating the national ‘do not call list’. They offer inflated prices for standard services, it’s impossible to get ahold of a real person when calling for help and, when you do, there seems to always be a very significant language barrier.

I’d like to add that Bell’s customer service mostly runs from India when a lot of people in Canada are unemployed. Thank you Bell for supporting Canadians.

Rogers is a company that seems to have grown too much too quickly. They almost reached a monopoly a couple of years ago. This was accompanied with sub-par customer service, very frequent billing errors and jacked prices. But due to their terrible customer service, continuous billing errors and better competitors, Rogers is slowly losing its grip on the Canadian wireless/mobile market.

Another major annoyance with Rogers is their lack of proper pricing on plans. As honeydoo states in the comments:

Rogers.. just tacky how much you have to hassle them and play ‘the game’ to get a good plan.

Oh and if you were a pay-as-you-go customer let me mention the single word that will send chills down your spine: Melanie… Voice recognition.

Zellers made it into the worst three companies of 2010 unfortunately. Remember the days when Zellers used to be the place to go shopping and Walmart was frail in comparison? Well long gone are those days. Zellers has simply frozen in time. It has not evolved or improved over the past few years and has been slowly going downhill. Plagued with dirty stores, unfriendly staff and messy shelves Zellers is now left to die a slow and bitter death.

Two companies that barely escaped from the Worst 3 are Shoppers Drug Mart and Sears Canada. It seems like people have a love/hate relationship with Shoppers because many people nominated it for both best and worst companies of the year. I was not however impressed when I read that Shoppers Drug Mart pulled 3,500 copies of Adbusters to satisfy the Canadian Jewish Congresss. As for Sears, well there’s been a lot of talk about the parent company in the US going bankrupt soon and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case.

Now please take a second to vote for Canada’s Worst Company of 2010 below. Voting ends in 24 hours after which we’ll announce the “winner” and have the poll for Best Company in 2010.

Worst Company in Canada 2010: Nominations

Worst Company in Canada 2010

Since 2010 is almost over I decided to start an annual “contest” where we nominate and vote for Canada’s Best and Worst companies of the year! I’ve noticed a significant drop in customer service over the past couple of years so I’m sure nominating the worst through 2010 will not be too hard.

Post your Worst Company nominations and the reason for shaming the companies in the comment box below. You can nominate absolutely any company as long as it operates in Canada. You have till Wednesday Dec 29th, 2010 to nominate the worst companies of the year after which we’ll have a public poll to choose the Worst Company.

Smart Canucks Christmas Countdown: 12 Days Until Christmas *Festive Music*


Well ladies and gents, Christmas is almost here ready or not. Only 12 days left (13 for the big boxing day sales 😉 )  To count down to the festivities Smart Canucks  will feature a special countdown topic. If you have an idea for a topic please feel free to use the suggest a deal feature.

Today is Christmas music.  I find as i’m getting older i’m embracing Christmas music more and more each year.  Last night I was lucky enough to attend the “I Love Santa” Christmas special performance by Kim Stockwood

 What  a great Christmas special!  Kim is not only an amazing singer shes also quite comedic on stage.  Playing with Kim were 2 amazing artists in their own rights Tim Bovaconti and Kevin Fox.  Kim gave them both their own spotlight to showcase themselves!  My favourite performance of the evening was Silver Bells.  Such a classic Christmas tune.  After the show Kim did a personal meet and greet with fans to sign cd’s and some light chit chat.  She really connects and appreciates her fans, which was a nice treat. 

What are your favourite Christmas tunes of all time?  I think my all time favourite is Greensleves (aka what child is this)  I just love the melody.

Remembrance Day Canada November 11th 2010



In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

– John McCrae

 We will remember them.


Tight squeeze, woman cheesed by obese person on Porter Airlines flight

I always thought Porter Airlines’ customer service was first class, but looks like it’s going downhill. I came across an interesting article in the Ottawa Citizen about a woman (Janet) who had to share her Porter airline seat with a obese person because that obese person didn’t fit in her own seat.

She figures the woman’s spine was where the middle armrest comes down when in use. The woman also needed a belt extender to be able to buckle up.

Janet did not complain during the flight but afterwards she contacted Porter Airlines and asked for a full refund but Porter Airlines refused and offered her a $100 Gift Card on a future flight.

I think that the least Porter could have done was give her back her money. But this situation should not have happened in the first place. If someone cannot fit into a single seat then they should pay for 2 seats, sit comfortably and not bother others. Passengers should not be expected to travel with someone occupying part of their seat during the flight; or at least that’s how I personally feel about this. It’s uncomfortable, annoying, unfair and disgusting. If this had happened to me I would have refused to occupy half a seat on the spot and would not have waited till the flight was over to complain.

What would you have done?

Store Reviews: Canada Post, Tim Hortons, Sobeys, etc.

Tropicana is Increasing their Prices

Reviews / Canada 61 comments

Tropicana makes one of the best not from concentrate orange juices out there and what I love about this brand is that I can basically get a great tasting orange juice even though I’m so darn picky about pulp!

My mom likes the extra pulp version where as I can simply do with out pulp all together. To me it feels like I’m drinking a glass of hair instead of orange juice….gross!

Tropicana has announced that due to the weather Florida experienced this winter a lot of the oranges were not usable for making orange juice. So, surprise-surprise, we’re going to be experiencing a price increase on the larger bottles while the smaller bottles will be down sized but the price will remain the same.

While I would normally pay more for a product that I like a lot I’m not sure I can justify spending the additional money on orange juice considering there are other brands that offer a lot of the same qualities (pulp free, calcium enriched, not from concentrate etc.,)

If you’re a Tropicana fan how will this affect you?

Will you switch to another brand or will you continue to shell out for this brand?

Can you suggest a different brand of OJ that’s just as good?

Ivivva Athletica Canada by Lululemon: Clothing Line for Girls

Ivivva Logo
Ivivva canada

I just came across this now and find it very interesting from a business perspective. Lululemon Athletica are expanding by releasing a new brightly-coloured, dance-inspired line of clothing for girls aged 6 to 12. The new brand is called Ivivva Athletica. Current Ivivva Canada store locations are:

  • 2123 W 4th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. Canada, V6K 1N7
  • Suite 120, 540 Johnson Street, Victoria, B.C. Canada, V8W 1M3
  • 3625 Shaganappi Trail NW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, T3A 0E2

I’m guessing that over the next year Lululemon will be selling Ivivva at more and more locations.

Click here for more details on Ivivva Athletica Canada

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