John Thomson  

John Thomson's I Didn't Know That!

First of all, I want to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my readers and friends. It was a bad ending for me because of health problems. I was in KGH Christmas Day and came home on the Friday. My doctor was on top of it and he sent me home.

It has been a difficult time for me but more importantly, Mrs. T. and her life has been turned upside down. But things are looking better.


The price of gas took a drop to 119.0.  I didn’t expect that one!

I was surprised at how long the big oil guys held the line on prices!


It wasn’t that many years ago that we were still getting some staples delivered to the door. Remember the milkman, bread delivery, and the cleaners? Back then we had a delivery once a week of chips and soft drinks .Those were the days when the family knew the druggist at the corner store and he knew what all the health problems were. Way back then there were banks, not branches. You did all your business with the manager and he knew the entire family.

It was certainly a different world.


My last rumour before I got sick was about “Old Navy”.  A reader sent me the information regarding this long awaited store.  The location is said to be the southern end of Orchard Park Mall where there are three empty store spaces.

It was previously rumoured that Cora’s new location would be in this same area with an outside entrance so they could open their doors for breakfast.


It was quite a sad day for the viewers across the province when Tony Parsons said goodbye to TV and retired from the CBC and the broadcast industry on January 1, 2014.

When we came out here thirty-six years ago Tony was the news anchor at CFTO-TV Toronto. He just had a way of talking to the viewers that kept us all calm in a crisis.

He also spent many years with BCTV who were purchased by Global/Shaw Media.

I am sure Tony is now anxious to play golf.


The Men’s Warehouse, the largest shareholder of Eminence Capital, is backing the suit seller’s hostile bid to acquire rival Jos. A. Bank.

Jos. A. Banks has over 500 stores and is interested in Moore’s which is also owned by the Men’s Wearhouse. This is one sweet group of buy one, get three free.


Statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, John Thomson.  While we are sure that every care has been taken in the compilation of this information and every attempt made to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur.

Castanet will not be held responsible for any claims, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within this article.


John Thomson's I Didn't Know That!

I saw your comment while reading your business article on Castanet regarding Harvey’s Hamburgers being the “Best Tasting Hamburgers".  It is true, Harvey’s usually wins that award each year in Canada. Here is some good news that you may not be aware of.  At Swiss Chalet in West Kelowna we now serve Harvey’s Hamburgers fresh off the grill and we have had a lot of excited guests come in that are Harvey’s fans to try us out!  At this time we are serving Harvey’s products (limited menu) in our take-out area only but guests are welcome to come into the Swiss Chalet dining room and eat their burgers if they so choose. Offering Harvey’s in Swiss Chalet Take-Out is a test model for Cara in BC with four stores participating, two of them are West Kelowna and Kamloops. The Great Taste comes from the good quality of meat, char grilled with fresh cut tomatoes and pickles along with your choice of toppings. Thought I would pass this news along to you and if you want more info just send us an email back.  Also at this time I would like to invite you to come and re-acquaint yourself with the “Great Tasting Hamburger” anytime.

The e-mail was received from the owner/operator Maurice Baker.


Two months ago Amazon.com announced it was going into the home delivery pre-packaged food delivery in the lower mainland. Last year the Amazon group built their first warehouse in Delta. The company now has 96 warehouse locations around the world, with two in Canada. On Cyber Monday the distributor was producing 300 orders around the world in one second.


Participating A&W restaurants in central BC are hosting the 6th annual Breath of Life Day, a local fundraiser to help infants, children and young adults with their daily battle against cystic fibrosis.

Saturday, December 7th, they will donate one dollar for every burger sold and submit 100% of all donations received to Cystic Fibrosis Canada. Proceeds are used to fund research to improve treatment and to find a cure.

The local A&Ws make Breath of Life Day a fun event for all. Free Root Beer refills, visits by the Great Root Bear, kid’s games and prizes, raffles and more. This year’s prizes include: A classic all metal body A&W pedal car, 5 - $50.00 free gas cards donated by Petro Canada and 20 free oil change gift certificates donated by Bannister, Kelowna.

Participating A&W Restaurants include: Westbank, Kelowna, Winfield, Vernon, Armstrong, Salmon Arm, Kamloops (Columbia) and Ladysmith.

Last year the event set a new record raising over $43,000.00. “This year; it is $50,000 or bust”, according to Claude Uzelman, one of the local A&W owners and organizers. “With the unwavering support of all the very generous corporate sponsors and all the folks who visit the restaurants on event day we will hit that goal.”

“With partners like A&W, we are able to continue with our research efforts to improve treatment methods and find a cure for cystic fibrosis,” said Jody Birnie, President, Okanagan Valley Chapter of Cystic Fibrosis Canada.

Jason & Lori, the A&W owners in Ladysmith commented: “This is a very difficult condition for these children. If we all help, just a little, it is possible that in the not too distant future Cystic Fibrosis will be a disease of the past. Mark it down. Saturday, Dec. 7th. You are invited.”


About CF and Cystic Fibrosis Canada

Cystic fibrosis is the most common, fatal, genetic disease affecting Canadian children and young adults.  In the digestive tract, CF blocks the absorption of adequate nutrients from food.  In the lungs, in a short period of time, respiratory problems become increasingly severe.  Ultimately, most CF deaths are due to loss of lung function.

The Foundation, on an ongoing basis, supports and funds multiple projects exploring all aspects of the CF puzzle; from investigating new methods of fighting infection and progressive loss of lung function to finding new treatments and perhaps a cure that works at a cellular level.


Here is another email from a reader who has been sending them for years.

It is going to be a sad day for industry in the Okanagan if we lose our rail service let alone other passenger opportunities.

Large industries and the jobs that go with it are going too.

It would be great for Kelowna, Vernon and Kamloops if they offered passenger service from Kelowna to Kamloops and all the stops in between. There could be a stop at the airport so that people from Vernon and Kamloops could get to our International airport. It would beat taking the bus or driving and having to leave your car at the airport!


The first retail report said the amount of shoppers is more than last year but that less money was being spent. I’m not ready to believe that yet. The stores seem very busy and the shoppers are carrying a lot of bags.


Statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, John Thomson.  While we are sure that every care has been taken in the compilation of this information and every attempt made to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur.

Castanet will not be held responsible for any claims, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within this article.

John Thomson's I Didn't Know That!

Change is the name of the game this week with lots happening and about to happen in this city. The rumours are wild and interesting. So you can see it is a very exciting in the Naked City. There are always 8,000 stories in the Naked City and this will be one of them.

It all started in Toronto about three months ago when Blackberry became available for the right buyer. In stepped Fairfax Financial Holdings with an offer of $6 billion on the table which after six week was taken off the table. Fairfax Holdings president became president of Blackberry.

Fairfax Financial was not one of the biggest money organizations in Canada but they were a mover and shaker. The company first came to my attention when I was doing another story on one of their holdings.

They were owners of the East Side Mario’s, a Canadian chain with their Kelowna store being one of my favourites. Italian Wedding Soup, Italian Salad and Seafood Linguini - now that was good food.

Two months ago Fairfax sold its restaurant holdings to CARA, one of Canada's largest food entrepreneurs. East Side Mario’s, a chain of Irish Pubs, Casey’s Bier Market and Prime Restaurants - all of their food holdings. But this was not over. Paul Rivett the president of Fairfax holds financial interests in all of the 950 restaurants I’m writing about. The CARA chain includes Swiss Chalet, Montana’s, Harvey’s (still the best hamburger ever), Kelsey’s, and Milestones.

But wait this is not over.

Fairfax, still on the move last week, purchased 51 per cent of the 110 Keg restaurants across the country from the David Aisenstat family who still own the other 49 per cent. So, the new Keg being built in Kelowna on the south highway will be a part of this mix

Now the final piece of this story. East Side Mario’s here is being closed by the new group on December 23rd of this year. The new tenant will be Canadian Brew Houses.

That was quite a journey.


We first went to San Diego in the early 80s and of course I found Trader Joe’s.  We went to the two stores we had in town for many things, all of them good. I came home that year and I wrote to the Trader Joe’s people and asked if they have looked at Canada and was there any chance for a franchise north of the border? They answered back that they did not franchise and in turned owned every store that was built. We have been customers of theirs for years. I have friends that bring me home some goodies every year since we don’t travel anymore. There is a real treat in The World’s Largest Cashews.

Now it looks like we may be on the list. Pirate Joe’s, started by an entrepreneur in Vancouver, took on the American giant. Pirate Joe's is a specialty grocery store in Vancouver, owned by Michael Hallatt. Its inventory consists entirely of store brand products resold from locations of the U.S.-based grocery chain Trader Joe's—which does not operate any locations in Canada. Despite the high costs of operating the store due to its business model, the store became popular with residents who enjoyed the opportunity to purchase some of the distinct private label products offered by Trader Joe's.

Although he has asserted that the business was legal, Hallatt's operation drew the ire of the Trader Joe's company, and the shop eventually became the subject of a lawsuit filed by the company in May 2013, which claimed that the Pirate Joe's shop was infringing on its trademarks and damaging its reputation. Despite this setback, Hallatt pledged to continue operating the store and went to court in San Francisco and he won because the judge told Trader Joe's they could win in an American court. They in turn dropped the suit.

Now Hallett wants to start a fast food joint called “M”.


Finally some info on Cara.  The owners have found a place to rebuild their very successful store. They don’t want the location announced yet but it will surprise you.

It always amazes me that in 2013 these developers don’t want any positive publicity. This is the world of information. We’ll see how long I can go with this plan.


This email came in yesterday...

“Apparently blueprints have been issued for Old Navy to go into Orchard Park taking the space of Tommy Hilfilger and the two shops next door.“

I don’t know how much there is to this story but this is a source who has proved really reliable.


Since its inception in 2000, Township 7 Vineyards & Winery has featured the same logo and label. Winery owners John Tietzen and Mike Raffan determined it was time to enhance the logo and bottle labels so as to emphasize the winery’s commitment to making just quality wine and nothing else.

To do so, the owners sought out an entirely different approach from what the BC wine industry typically does. John called upon his extensive connections to some of the world’s best marketers who have represented clients such as BMW, Geico, Net Jets, AFLAC, UPS, Walmart, Pizza Hut and Axe. Ultimately, the advertising agency, Profero New York was selected. Profero New York’s client list includes famous beverage brands such as PepsiCo, Baileys, Guinness, Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, & Diageo, which is one of the world’s largest producers of wine, beer and spirits. In fact, Aaron Reitkopf, the C.E.O. & President of Profero New York, visited the Okanagan Valley and personally experienced its vibrant wine industry. The actual logo and label designs were developed by industrial graphic artist Harry Garcia of Profero New York.


Tim Hortons president has told Canadians that he is going to speed up the service. The store I go to always has a line-up, day and night. The CEO says two many offerings for sale slows everything down. But they do keep the line-up of new products.

Tim Hortons TV ads are all heavy promotion for new products for a limited time only. Their new products are chosen by a panel and usually prove to be good eating.


Long-time volunteer and local philanthropic leader Terry Flannigan was honoured at United Way's leadership recognition event, hosted by UBC at their Okanagan campus. Flannigan was the 2013 recipient of the Dina and Mel Kotler Humanitarian Award, created in 2008 by “Million Dollar Mel” Kotler as a way to recognize the volunteer efforts of community leaders who have also contributed to the United Way. Dina Kotler presented the award to Flannigan, citing his community contributions that have largely gone “under the radar”.

Flannigan started the UBC Okanagan campus campaign for United Way during the university’s first year of operations in 2005. Since then, the campus community has raised over a quarter of a million dollars for the United Way campaign. He was also instrumental in starting the UBC Athletic Scholarship Breakfast and was Chair of the Seniors Games hosted in Kelowna. Asserting that a strong United Way campus campaign translates into more community support for educational institutions, Flannigan has spearheaded United Way campaigns at all of the post-secondary institutions he has worked at, including Grant McEwan College and Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

UBC Okanagan Deputy Vice Chancellor Deborah Buszard is a member of the 2013 United Way Campaign Cabinet, and wanted to host the leadership event on campus as a way to say thank you to donors throughout the region who contribute $1,000 or more to the campaign. In her remarks, Buszard emphasized how the university’s campus community of close to 10,000 people have a responsibility to create a civil and sustainable society for all. Fourth-year student Lucia Woolgar shared her experiences involved in the Reading Week Days of Caring program, where university students are matched to projects through the United Way as part of their community service learning.  

“We are so grateful to UBC Okanagan for their participation in the United Way campaign, and their willingness to open the campus to campaign leaders,” says United Way Executive Director Marla O’Brien. “It is so impactful for students and community members to come together to learn how each of them are contributing to a healthier Okanagan through the United Way, and to be able to honour Terry with the Dina and Mel Kotler Humanitarian Award in the location where he started the campus campaign is such a fitting tribute.”


Statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, John Thomson.  While we are sure that every care has been taken in the compilation of this information and every attempt made to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur.

Castanet will not be held responsible for any claims, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within this article.

John Thomson's I Didn't Know That!

Every month the Krieg family, a long-time real estate family from ReMax, put this information together for the column. They can be reached at 250-868-8000.


Sales of Single Family Dwellings (SFD) reached 166 this October, which is 36% above October 2012 and was just one sale under the average of the last 22 years. The number of active listings is 1,238 which is 18.2% lower than October 2012. YTD the total listings taken is 6.8% lower than the same period last year.

Percentage of Listings vs. Sales

13.4% of the listing inventory sold in October. This is similar to September, but far above October 2012 with only 8.1 % of the listings selling.

Average Price is Stable

The average price here in Kelowna was $481,993 last month. Year to Date, we are at $462,617 which is slightly lower than 2012, by 1.1%.

Million $ Plus

The MLS system shows that a total of 9 properties sold in October over $1 Million These were: 2 Lakefront Homes, 2 acreages.


We are happy to see the sales-to-listing ratio holding strong since April. It is currently at about 14%, compared to about 8% in the last 4 years.

Our average price went up, to just to under $500K and our over $Million activity was low with only 4 SFD sold which makes it a strong month. (The other transactions over a $ Million are excluded from the stats.)

We see a trend towards a strong 2014.


Congratulations to Canadian Tire on a super advertising campaign on TV. Their commercials are all aimed at young people and going outside to play, get some fresh air, play some sports or do something rather than play video games or watch TV in their spare time.

They are one of our more successful big box stores and a good organization who fights all the changes taking place in the country with new competition in just about everything.

At one time in this country Canadian Tire was the leader in many categories and sporting goods was one of them.


In twenty-five years I haven’t written much about politics but this time I have a little information that might be of interest to you. As you know the government has set a date of December 2nd for all for all proposals regarding the rail between Vernon, Kelowna and Lumby. I have been told that the date may be extended by six months. So far at least four parties are interested.


The population in Alberta has jumped to 4 million. Stats Canada just announced that the number from three million to four million  was from migration.


The property where the School District has their offices is on the market again. Colliers Real Estate is the broker.

  • 4 Acre site.  A+ premium location directly across from Orchard Park Shopping Centre with transit, health services, and a variety of other amenities.
  • The City of Kelowna is open to rezoning to Commercial and/or High Density Residential uses.
  • The Seller requires a 2 year leaseback.  This will allow the Purchaser time for rezoning and planning as our market continues to improve.
  • Designated an Urban Centre in a strong growth area.
  • Potential to enter into an agreement to build a new 18,000 square foot facility with the School District.


I remember back when Revelstoke Resort was just beginning and people from all over were buying shares and the prospects were hot. It was one of those things where the citizens of the area weren’t believing the developers. One of the those developers (and for the life of me I can’t remember his name, but he was known as the condo king in Vancouver a long time ago). I believe his biggest project was the redevelopment of the BC Tel office tower. It sold out within hours. His wife had bought shares in the development. I phoned him in Toronto but he didn’t want to discuss it.

I believe this is where Tom Gaglardi and his Northland Properties Ltd. came into the picture.

Northland Properties own The Sandman Inns, The Chop Houses, Denny’s Western Canada, Moxies and Sutton Place. There is a Sutton Place 220-room hotel on the mountain.

Gaglardi and his management staff have done a terrific job with the property.


Statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, John Thomson.  While we are sure that every care has been taken in the compilation of this information and every attempt made to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur.

Castanet will not be held responsible for any claims, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within this article.

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