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How to improve sales at Hudson’s Bay

Hardly a week goes by without our various newspapers analyzing the changing retail scene – the introduction of Target, Ann Taylor, Nordstrom and other American giants into the Canadian market – and how the home-grown Canadian retailers are handling it, particularly Holt Renfrew and Hudson’s Bay. Has anyone talked to us – the consumer? I have a couple of very simple suggestions for Hudson’s Bay

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Creepy crepey

The late Nora Ephron felt bad about her neck – she even wrote a book about it. I totally forgot about mine until it was too late. It happened overnight. When I was 53 I woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and was shocked to discover that my formerly long, lean neck now resembled a slouching sports sock. For years I had been dutifully applying hundreds or probably thousands of dollars worth of creams, oils, serums and even stem cell potions to various parts of my body with reasonably good results but

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Dear John:

John Doyle’s column in the arts section of The Globe and Mail (www.jdoyle@globeandmail.com) is always interesting because he reviews television and I like television – at least some of it. And I love John because his tastes seem to align with my own so obviously we’re both very clever and perceptive people. Today’s column (Tuesday, September 10, 2013) particularly struck a chord because he mentioned some of my solid dislikes and likes

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How sweet it is

Listen, Timmie . . .

Ideally they should have a light, delicate crust (not the shoe-leather-like concoctions offered in the grocery stores) and they should be available without nuts or with nuts for those of us who like it to last longer.
Ideally, butter tarts should have a light, delicate crust (not the shoe-leather-like hockey pucks offered in the grocery stores) and they should be gooey and available without nuts or with nuts for those of us who like the flavour sensation to last longer.

Tim Horton’s seems to be ignoring my suggestions that they start carrying that “only in Canada” gourmet taste sensation known as the butter tart. I was able to join Timmie’s club a few years ago when they began offering “steeped tea”. As a non-coffee drinker I felt left out and found the teabag dunked in a cup of hot water not up to standard. So now I have a Timmie’s card with lots of money loaded on to it for quick processing through the drive-through. I’m now a somebody.

Butter tarts are not available everywhere, as we discovered when we visited the United States. This mini version of Quebec sugar pie is truly eastern Canadian and the most satisfying accompaniment to steeped tea. But Tim’s seems to be too busy creating sugar concoctions with no relevancy to our unique Canadian brand . I’m not giving up though.

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Those were the days, my friend . . .

Looking Back . . .
When I strolled around the CNE on the last day on Labour Day weekend, I couldn’t help reminiscing about the time I worked there as a sweet young Boomerbroad in the summer of 1969. I was working for Bell Canada at the time and in those days (before everyone was jaded by Canada’s Wonderland) the annual CNE was a big deal. Kids saved their Telly fun cheques to offset the cost of the rides and everyone wanted to climb the Shell Tower to get a good overview of all the excitement. The buildings offered delights and experiences not available in today’s tired old lady on the lake, including a visit to see Elsie the cow, a life-size replica of a real cow carved in butter in the food building. That display was sponsored by The Milk Marketing Board.
Large corporations staged sophisticated exhibits to showcase their wares and tantalize us with what we could look forward to in the future. I was one of more than two dozen “Bell girls”  selected from within the company to be part of that year’s Bell exhibit. It was housed in the Queen Elizabeth Building and consisted of two side-by-side  “shows”. My group of girls took turns dancing “go-go-style” in a glass tube to The Age of Aquarius by Sly and The Family Stone. We wore snazzy yellow and white crimpolene pants and tunic outfits that made us sweat like pigs. When a group of people had assembled around the dancing girl in the booth (me or one of the other Bell girls), we would pick up a new “Contempra” phone, the latest high-tech phone of its time which acted as a microphone and delivered our little spiel. “Hello, welcome to Bell Canada . . . ” followed by a five-minute memorized monologue about all the new and wonderful things Bell was working on. We demonstrated a prototype of the futuristic “Picture-phone” which resembled a snowy black and white television screen  showing a live view of whoever you were talking to. That demonstration was met with a great deal of 1969 skepticism about “what if you’re in your pyjamas and you don’t want anyone to see you”. Little did we know what 2013 would bring in terms of iPhones, Skype and the other high-tech snooping devices we use on a daily basis today.

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The charming “Bell Girls” of 1969. I’m the blonde with short hair, eighth head from the left.

The other half of our Bell exhibit was a magic show put on by part of of our contingent on an adjoining stage with seating for an audience of about 100 people. We worked in shifts and kept CNE visitors entertained and informed for the duration of the “Ex”. It was especially enjoyable for me because, not only was it an honour to be selected but I lived in a tiny apartment on Spencer Avenue near the exhibition grounds so I could walk to work. And I got to eat Ex junk food for my meal break every day. I still clearly remember the wonderful smell of frying onions as I walked along the midway to my lunch-spot-de-jour. Bell offered to sell us our outfits at cost after the EX closed but after two weeks of sweating in it and washing and wearing it every day, I’d had enough. Still, it was an experience I treasure and will never forget.
Those were the days, my friend. . .

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