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John Thomson

John Thomson's I Didn't Know That!

It was about a month ago that a contractor told me his business wasn’t bad and that many of the enquiries about the lots he has for sale are coming from Saskatchewan buyers who want to move to the Okanagan and Kelowna in particular.

I then received a follow-up to the story that land sales in the "wheat province" are booming with immigrant investors buying up the farm land.  They are mostly from China. One farm group has already put together a 70,000 acre parcel.

They’re paying cash and in many cases are leasing it back to the local farmers. ReMax put out a report that farm land in Saskatchewan last year had gone up to $2000 an acre.

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Look who is back on the rumour list a few years after the company, Old Navy, was being low key on future plans for stores anywhere. It actually came close one time when the builders of Central Plaza in Kelowna tried to work them into the mix and couldn’t. This was always one of the three stores I was always asked about including IKEA and Red Lobster.

Now there is a new rumour that space can be made for them at the new plaza in Westbank where the theatre and Shoppers Drug Mart are located. It is a rumour at the moment because no one is talking but it is coming from a reliable source. We’ll have to watch to see where this is going.

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Last week I wrote about the catalogs we always received from Simpsons and Eaton’s as being one of the highlights of the year. I received an email from one of my readers who formally worked for the Robert Simpson Co. in Toronto with some facts I didn’t have.

Before I post the email I remember when we came here thirty-four years ago. The Orchard Park Shopping Centre had just taken down the Simpson’s sign and the dirt on the outside wall stilled showed the word "Simpson’s".

Good morning John, as a former employee of Simpsons, in Toronto, I would correct you on the sale of the company. Robt. Simpson Co. owned half of Simpson Sears & Sears Roebuck amd when the Bay bought Robt. Simpsons the partnership was dissolved with Sears Roebuck.

The Burton family was the major shareholders and the employees were also, but between the two of us they did not own enough to stop the purchase of enough stock by The Bay to take it over. It was a very sad happening to find that Burtons did not really have full control after having run such a fine department store for so many years.  When the Bay took over they ran the quality down for many years and the owners now are striving to bring it back.

Burtons were great to work for as they ran a good ship and it was not a happy ship when the Bay took command as they changed the whole concept not only as to quality of merchandise but also employee relationship with management.

I didn’t know The Bay was involved at all.

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I was in buying Fish & Chips at Shady Rest on Sutherland the other day and while I sat and waited for my order I got to thinking about this spot and its uniqueness. I read not long ago that this business got started over sixty years ago, making as much as is on their menu today and of course featuring fish and chips. Everything is fresh and they still wrap your order in newsprint and newspaper to soak up the oil and keep everything warm until you get home.

Back then the family that owned the food spot, and still do today, prepared the French fries for the A&W drive-in.

It must have been something years ago when the diners went up the stairs outside to eat on the deck on the roof. At the time it was a great view.

They make good fish and chips with no salt on the chips.

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The Ponds, the new community in the South Mission, have just announced they are adding a commercial site called The Village at the Ponds. According to their ad it will have a restaurant, food store, drug store and coffee shop. I have seen the rendering of the property and it has been designed in a special way to fit into the community. It will be a very attractive site.

Work has begun on preparing the 50,000 square feet for construction.

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The phone rings with an Alberta area code and I answer.  

I hear,

“Hi, this is Reagan."

Our records indicate you are paying too much interest on your credit cards. Everything is okay but you should talk to one of our agents and see if they can lower those rates. Your cards are not in jeopardy.

Dial one." 

Once and for all there are no deals with the financial institutions about interest rates. That is how the banks make their profits.  This is a phishing scam!

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Here is the case the Public Relations students will be studying the future.  The handling of a very difficult situation at XL Foods in Brooks, Alberta. They are the second largest meat packer in Canada. The Nilsson brothers, Brian and Lee, have been in the cattle business with their father for years prior to their company buying the plant in Brooks in 2009  from Lakeside Packers which at the time was owned by Tyson Foods, the U.S. food processing giant.  Fifty percent of the beef processed in Canada was processed in that plant.

These executives that are afraid of the media need to do some reading into the way McNeil Labs handled the death of a man in Washington State who had just taken a Tylenol.  The president was available immediately and he had a statement ready and he never let the media get ahead of the story, crafting the story their way rather having facts stretched in many directions. It was a brilliant move and well managed.

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Washington Apple Commission are telling the marketplace that they are harvesting the second largest apple crop ever. They say the final count will be 109 million bushels.   

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We went to the Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner the other night.  We went early and it was busy. There was lots of staff on and they were everywhere bringing everything you wanted quickly.

The food was terrific and certainly well priced.  Warm sour dough bread comes first. I had their special clam chowder and it was first rate.  Then spaghetti and meat balls and the Mrs. had spaghetti and meat sauce. It was all finished off with the house spumoni ice cream. 

Later on there were large families with their children that came in and they wanted their spaghetti.  Soon it was all over their faces and out came the napkins!

That’s the second Old Spaghetti Factory we have had in this town. Years ago they built a location downtown where the current Shoppers Drug Mart is.

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For some reason, energy drinks are cool and Red Bull, one of the leaders, are about to set a new trend in this market with the introduction of flavors.

Cranberry, Lime and Blueberry. The energy drink market is getting crowded and yet at the same time it is being used by people for all kinds of reasons. It was students and athletes for a long time but now it’s your fellow office workers, mothers at home and truck drivers.  

The man who created Red Bull died this year at age 88. Chaleo Yoovidhya started a small pharmaceutical in the early 60s and over a few years created what we now call Red Bull. Thailand was his home. He died a billionaire.



Read more John Thomson articles




About the Author

John Thomson is the Okanagan's pre-eminent business columnist writing his column, Rumours and Things, for over 24 years. Plugged in to the valley's who's who, John keeps his readers coming back for more with his straight talk and optimistic perspective on where we are headed next.

When John is not writing his column, he runs a sixteen year old think tank called the Executive Roundtable and holds his popular "Thomson Presents" quarterly business speaker seminars.

Have a comment, question, or tip for John? 

E-mail John at
[email protected]
or send him a fax at 250-764-8255.

 




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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.


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