John Thomson  

John Thomson's I Didn't Know That!

Big news out of the east as the rumour about Loblaws continues to grow! Loblaws own both SuperStore and Extra Foods. The rumour is that the Loblaws, owned by the Weston family, will make an offer to Safeway Canada to buy out the chain in this country. Loblaws already has over 1000 stores in Canada.

Buying Safeway’s Canadian unit is logical as Loblaw faces more competition from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. said Veritas Investment Research Corp.  Safeway, a grocer that got 15 percent of its $44 billion of sales in 2011 from Canada, is undervalued after falling 14 percent last year, the Bank of Montreal said. Safeway trades at the cheapest price relative to revenue and earnings among North American food retailers larger than $1 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Edward Jones & Co. said closely held Overwaitea Food Group, the western Canadian chain, is another option for Loblaw.


Weight, spending and debt were the main holiday worries for Canadians

Only 30 per cent of all reported holiday transactions involved cash; most purchases were made with credit cards and debit cards.

I don’t know about you but I buy everything on my credit card and other shoppers do the same thing. We then would be listed in the credit shopping side but we also pay our bills at the end of the month; the shoppers who use their debit cards are really paying cash.

I know many Christmas shoppers abuse their credit cards during the season and then have to work their way out of the debt over next few months and really, some people have no idea of what they have done to get them in trouble. Unfortunately these numbers grow.


Okay I think we have solved the mystery of the special flag that is flying on the crane above SOPA Square. Here is the story - it is a Danish flag.  The crane operator’s wife is from Denmark. When they reach a certain level of development during commercial construction the crane operator hangs a flag.

There you have it.


When designer Tammy Tomiye decided to go into the publishing business 16 years ago she always thought there should be a distinctive wine tour publication and decided there was a need for an official wine tour handbook. This was designed to make a wine tour even more exciting for the wine lovers who come by the thousands into B.C every year. Her eXpose Design Studio has been in the publishing business for 16 years and has been publishing the wine tour guide for ten years.         

“Our goal was to assist visitors in making a BC wine tour vacation the best it can be. You will find tips on touring and tasting, maps to help you find your way and helpful tasting notes that you can print off and take with you with space for you to jot down your personal tasting experience. Our comprehensive list of BC wineries makes this guide an invaluable tool for your wine tour experience. Festival information, restaurant, attraction, accommodation, tour operator and residential development listings are all at your fingertips,” said Tomiye.

The 2013 guide is set to launch in the Spring. This marks a milestone with their 10th annual edition. 

Distribution over the years has grown from 50,000 to 75,000 in 2006, 80,000 in 2007 and now 90,000 since 2009. With a shelf life of one full year, from spring to spring. 

The distribution has now reached 100,000 copies through the wineries, the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald, restaurants, ferries, or online at winetourhandbook.ca

eXpose Design Studio is a graphic design/publishing company owned and operated by Tammy Tomiye. Originally from the Okanagan Valley, Tammy obtained her Bachelor of Applied Arts Degree in Visual Communications from Ryerson University in Toronto. Her magazine experience includes working for Toronto Life magazine before moving back to Kelowna and assuming the position of Art Director for Okanagan Life and Okanagan Business magazines from 1993 - 1997. eXpose design was established in 1997 and has since published several successful, quality publications.


We got a lot of emails while we were on down time and this was an interesting one:

I wonder what will become of all the empty store units in West Kelowna/Westbank?

Why pray tell do they continue to build new strip malls when we have an over abundance of empty ones?

The empty Extra Foods building could be a great Bowling Alley, Old Navy, Jysk or the soon to be empty Zellers combined with Extra Foods buildings would make a great IKEA. There is lots of parking there and wouldn't that be great for the west side?

The empty video store would be a great Mosaic Books.

We certainly could use a good drawing card over here.   Thanks for reading.


It is difficult sometimes to understand the developers of retail space all the time because they make moves that require them to take less dollars for a lease just to fill the place. It is a Miracle Miles of Shopping and when you drive over there and someone else is at the wheel you see how many cars are parked and how busy they really are. Your ideas are interesting and we never seem to lose the desire to have an IKEA store in the valley.  I have been doing this for 25 years and it is a never ending question. IKEA needs 350,000 sq ft for a true store and no matter how difficult it is to get to a store they are ready to ship to you. At the moment they do not build smaller stores although the company said last year they were looking at maybe a lower square footage for Europe.

Isn’t it funny how we say there is just too much retail and in the second breath say we still use another, and this list just keeps getting longer?


Our monthly local real estate report prepared by the Krieg family at ReMax:

December 2012 Report

Kelowna and Area Single Family Dwellings Activity

Sales reached 80 in December which is 16% below 2011 and 25% below our 21 year average of 106 sales. Having said that, YTD sales finished 4% over 2011.

Listings show a slight increase to a total of 1,173 which is 3% higher than last year’s December.

Percentage of Listings vs. Sales

We are still clearly in a buyer’s market at only 7% of the listing inventory selling. That equals to 15 months of inventory, where a balanced market starts at about 15% of inventory selling in one month or 6 month inventory supply.

Average Price Holding Steady

The average price here in Kelowna was $464,283 last month which is just above last year's December by 3%. For the year we saw a 1.1% reduction in SFD. Apartments experienced a 4.3% reduction for the year in the average price.

Million $ Plus

The MLS system shows only 5 properties sold in December over $1 Million. These were: 1 farm, 4 lakeshore homes and 1 single family dwelling.


December clearly did set the industry back again with only 7% of the inventory selling. Maybe we can blame it on the early snow. Either way, we are looking forward to an active spring. We know the buyers are out there, but they are very nervous and looking for bargains.

Looking back to 2012, our market slightly improved over 2011 but all in all was quite stable. 4.3% more Single Family Dwellings changed hands, the average sale price was slightly lower by 1% and we have a similar inventory going into 2013. Apartment sales increased by 8% and townhomes sales increased by 11% in 2012 over 2011. The biggest gain was recorded in lot sales. 215 lots sold in 2012 compared to only 166 in 2011 which is a big 30% gain.

2013 is here and we will see the HST eliminated in April which is good for high end real estate and we hope that the election in May will be positive for the economy. We are looking forward to see the real estate market improve. Bare in mind that we do not have any indication that the market here in Kelowna will turn into a sellers market quickly and it is impossible to tell ahead of time when that will happen. We will only see it as it happens and will certainly know once it has come into effect.


We had a wonderful surprise during the holidays from T-Bones Fresh Meal Market on Spall Road. They have four stores in the valley; Kelowna, West Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon. These are beautiful stores and the service is exceptional. We ordered something special for New Year’s dinner.  Lobster, shrimp and steaks and when we got home we were missing part of the order. Mrs. Thomson called the store and within minutes the manager said it was their fault and they would send the missing item out to the house at no charge. It was their mistake. 

This store was so busy that we were taking numbers.  It was crowded but there was so much staff so everything was easy.  They were all helpful and smiling - it is quite an operation. When I first interviewed the owner Brian Ulvelan years ago he had just sold the Clancy’s chain and was starting this new one in the Okanagan.  He and Carmen named the stores after Brian’s father. They had seven Clancy’s stores, their first one in Langley, when they sold and moved to Kelowna. Now they are writing history. It is quite the exciting store to shop in.

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