Millions of books are published each year to entertain and educate; provide connection and stimulate thought and conversation. Some are banned or challenged because some members of the public are uncomfortable with the perspective that unfolds within the book’s pages.
I’ve read a number of books that have been banned, ranging from some favorites: E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web (parents objected to the idea of talking animals) to Alice Walker’s The Color Purple (troubling ideas about race relations; sexuality and religion) and Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes. I’ve also read The Librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter; Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson; Monster by Walter Dean Myers and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
I didn’t know the books were banned at the time. I read them because the stories intrigued me. I read for enlightenment and entertainment. I am excited to read about a character’s experience that is so different from mine in an era or a place that I might never visit.
I remember reading Timothy Findley’s The Wars; J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in The Rye and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World in school.
I think it was in Grade 11, a student declined to read Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing and conducted an independent library study with another novel. I never asked her but I always thought her parents had decided they didn’t want her to read Surfacing or perhaps she had decided she didn’t feel comfortable reading it.
Some of the books, I’ll remember forever. Others were quickly forgotten. If a book’s premise doesn’t capture my imagination or the characters leave me cold, I close the book and move on. But the books that have resonated with me, left their imprint and shaped how I viewed the world, the people in it and at times, my place in the world.
Consider checking out banned or challenged books from your local library and try to figure out why people are so upset about specific books. Ask yourself if the book upsets you. What is it about the book that upset you? Why? Even if something about the book is upsetting does that mean that other readers shouldn’t have access to it? Why?
Written by Andrea Wang. Illustrated by Hyewon Yum.
None of the children speak English at Luli’s day care. They all play alone while their parents attend English as a Second Language class next door. Luli finds a way to bring them together.
On a different day, Luli pulls out a teapot, cups, a thermos of hot water and tea leaves.
Luli announces chai–the Chinese word for tea to the roomful of children. They each pop their head up with interest, calling out the word for tea in their home language and the word is written in the script of that country. Luli prepares the tea and when it’s brewed, she announces tea time and the children gather around.
Yum’s colored pencil illustrations are beautiful. The end papers invite interest all on their own. They feature different teacup patterns from the 10 countries of the children in the playroom.
Wang’s spare, layered text is both powerful and evocative. Much like their parents, the children also don’t speak English. They are all new to a country with unfamiliar foods, people and customs and that can be scary. Just as scary as entering a new playroom for the first time.
But Luli breaks the ice when she introduces the centuries-old ritual of tea time to the playroom group. The children connect and begin to talk, share and play together.
Written by Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie. Illustrated by Ashleigh Corrin.
A delightful picture book for adults and children, 3 to 8.
Layla’s Happiness is an ode to joy.
Layla is seven years old. Her name means night beauty and she loves the night.
Layla brings back fond memories of being little and carefree: Skipping down a sidewalk on a sunny day; playing jump rope with friends in the schoolyard and forming secret clubs to discuss nonsense.
At seven, I knew that I loved words and I divided my name into different words. I loved the library and choosing from the many books on the shelves on weekly visits.
As a child, like Layla, one of my favorite things involved closing my eyes to wish on a bit of dandelion fluff. Then I’d toss that spiky fluff into the air and watch it dance on the wind to the place where wishes go.
Layla delights in simple things. She enjoys climbing a tree, eating spaghetti without a fork and lying indoors, under a tent, reading poetry with her Mum.
I used to keep a scrapbook with cartoon strips that made me smile and later, in life, I made a list of joy-filled moments. Not achievements but gifts of pure, unplanned happiness.
That’s Layla’s wisdom. She intuitively recognizes the simple gifts a day can bring.
We usually see images of an older, William Hall, the Royal Navy captain who was honored with a Victoria Cross for his bravery in November, 1857.
The above image is a portrait of the sailor as a young man. It hangs in Government House in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Hall is recognized as the first Black man, the first Nova Scotian and the first Canadian to receive the British Empire’s then, highest honor, the Victoria Cross.
In an era when many are reassessing the “heroes” of the past, there are people who feel Hall deserves to be honored with a statue.
At the Siege of Lucknow in what was then known as British India, Hall and his crew stood their ground during the bombardment of a key position in a conflict between the British Empire and colonial India.
Because they were short-staffed, Captain Hall volunteered his assistance and all but Hall and one crew member, who was badly injured, were killed.
In 2010, Hall was honored with a Canadian stamp. Many years later a memorial highway was named for him.
Today, when statues of individuals who once promoted offensive colonial and/or racist views are being pulled down it’s important to remember that the world has changed.
Hall fought for freedom in an era when many harbored negative stereotypes about him and didn’t even think he had the right to serve.
Captain William Hall deserves to be respected and remembered as a Canadian military hero.
For me, this time of year, is often about preparing to go back to school whether I’m teaching or taking a class.
Unfortunately, this school year, because of COVID, many parents are struggling to figure out whether to continue to keep their kids at home or send them to school.
Social interaction and after-school activities, not to mention in-class learning all enhance learning and mental health and well-being. Without additional clarity around school boards’ COVID policies, parents have a tough decision ahead of them.
As September nears, this Staples’ commercial has entered my thoughts. And since it has always brought a smile to my face, I thought I’d share it with you.
Crooner, Andy Williams’ 1963 version of the song, ‘It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ brings back fond memories for many others, too.
According to Marketing Magazine, this Staples’ ad first debuted in 1996. It depicts a father happily prancing through the Staples’ aisles, picking up back to school supplies, trailed by two dejected children.
Parents and viewers repeatedly responded positively to this ad. Since its initial launch, it has aired five times with a 33% unaided recall in favor of Staples. A touch of nostalgia and a dash of humor in a back to school campaign strategy receives an A+ for Staples.
“The open house is more than just a Q and A,” says Joe Stokes, university registrar at Ontario Tech University in Oshawa. “It’s an opportunity to showcase our programs, our research, our facilities and all of the great things that come with being a student at the university.” Of the university established in 2002, he adds, “We are that nimble young university that focuses on technology and on being innovative.”
Student prospects and parents are advised to pre-register for the event but they can also log in when the event goes live.
Visitors can click on the Navigating Your Day link and will be shown how to navigate the website. “There’s also a navigation on the left side where students can find out what time presentations are running, what faculties have chat rooms and other services that are there to talk to students,” says Stokes.
Future students will be able to talk with faculty, admissions officers, awards and financial officers, support staff and current students.
Monday, April 5 to Saturday, April 10, 5 to 9 p.m.
There’s still time to learn about the Faculties of Human and Social Sciences, Liberal Arts and Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier’s Brantford Open House campus event. “Students are making a final decision at this time of year,” says Craig Chipps, manager, Canadian Student Recruitment, as the June 1 deadline for acceptance of admission offers looms. “Aside from buying a home, it’s the largest investment a family can make.”
Future Golden Hawks and varsity team supporters are encouraged to explore the university’s website and develop questions before participating at the event, including virtual campus tours.
Faculty and staff will address the mechanics of admissions, academic programs and experiential learning opportunities. Pre-recorded videos are also available to view. And an email campaign allows for continued engagement after the event.
Postsecondary education is a big investment, says Anne Kalil, manager, Recruitment, Algonquin College. “We tell people would you buy a car without taking it for a test drive? You want to make sure it’s the right fit.”
Algonquin’s Virtual Open House event provides a customized menu of events and a recruitment team to guide them.
Pre-register for the event and learn about academic programs, credit transfers, residence life, financial aid, college applications, student services and experiences. Faculty, students and alumni are on hand to answer questions. A virtual tour is available along with weekly, live virtual tours.
Humber College emphasizes career-focused learning for high school students and adult learners. Prospective students can choose to pre-register or register on the day of the live virtual open house event to join the session and ask questions.
Faculty members, senior teams and support services staff also answer questions about experiential learning opportunities, transferring credits and financial aid options that include bursaries, scholarships and funding.
Student ambassadors answer questions so prospective students can find out more about virtual learning or “what it’s really like to attend Humber,” explains Joy Borman, manager, New Student Recruitment and Advising.
Future students can also access pre-recorded videos and information sessions from the previous virtual Fall Open House to get a sense of the college.
Centennial College’s Aaron Schoenmaker advises virtual open house visitors to prepare their questions and “ask the questions they might not have been able to get answered by viewing the website material.”
This includes an Open House On Demand with video greetings from the college president, guidebooks, virtual tours, program videos and webinar Wednesdays. “We want them to ask questions so we know they’re making the best decision for them,” says Schoenmaker, acting manager, Recruitment.
Open house visitors do not need to pre-register. On event day, an accordion menu will announce the virtual open house, with times and links to individual sessions.
“There’ll be information on specific program areas and schools of study,” says Schoenmaker. “Visitors will be invited into breakout rooms to connect with coordinators and faculty members from individual programs.”
“This is going to be our largest Open House,” says Dave Scott, manager, Office of the Registrar. The college-wide event will involve faculty, program coordinators, support services, athletics and recreation staff, current students and student club representatives.
Visitors are encouraged to click on Zoom links to attend online presentations, talk with advisors and participate in the virtual campus tour.
“It’s a chance to interact with people who work at the college and ask about the experience,” says Scott. “We hope people will come out. It will help them make a decision.”
Pre-registration directs visitors to eventbrite.ca to receive an email link to the live presentation.
For busy professionals, young singles and couples, who prefer the convenience of affordable downtown living, Antares Luxury Suites is one of Winnipeg’s top spots in the rental, retail market.
“There’s a huge need for apartments in the downtown core and we offer competitive pricing,” says Ekeen Saad, Westcorp Properties’ leasing manager.
The pet-friendly rental suites are part of Westcorp’s two-phase conversion of the Place Louis Riel Suites Hotel, located at the corner of Smith Street and St. Mary Avenue.
With condo-quality finishes, the elegant suites include granite countertops, four appliances (fridge, stove, dishwasher and microwave), drapery and window treatments.
Residents are just steps away from Winnipeg’s growing sports, hospitality and entertainment district (SHED).
In nice weather, rental occupants can forget parking hassles and walk to the Winnipeg Art Gallery, City Place Shopping Centre, the University of Winnipeg, the Forks’ vibrant markets, and the MTS Sports and Entertainment Centre – home to the Winnipeg Jets.
In colder temperatures, they can stroll the neighbourhood through the Winnipeg Skywalk.
In this keyless building, residents will experience the best in state-of-the-art technology once the final phase is completed by year’s end.
Occupants use their smartphones (Android and iPhones) to check on the availability of washers and dryers with a laundry app, connect with neighbours as they pick up a latte in the residents’ lounge, exercise at the gym, and take professional cooking classes in the chef’s kitchen.
Residents also have access to a well-appointed business centre with complementary iMacs, PCs and Wi-Fi. Many of these services will be accessible around the clock.
Westcorp Properties’ leasing team, maintenance staff and concierge work hard to create a first-class experience for the Antares Luxury Suites’ community, Saad says.
“Our customer service is the best. We offer the personal touch. It’s part of the Westcorp values. We go above and beyond what’s expected.”
Established in 1980, Westcorp Properties is committed to developing great spaces.
Antares Luxury Suites range from 425 to 812 square feet in a 25-storey, 315-unit building. Studios rent from $870 a month; for $1,595, corner penthouse suites include walk-in closets, heated bathroom floors and two-person showers.
“If there’s a weakness in your system somebody’ll get you-whether it’s a shoplifter or internal,” says Jack McKinnon, regional director/east for Lansing Buildall in Toronto,. His views echo those of many industry members, when he says retailers have to watch for both light-fingered customers and dishonest employees.
Shrinkage owing to consumer or employee theft and paper error is costing Canadian retailers about $2 billion annually, sending store owners in search of better security methods and hardware. Securing merchandise can be as simple as posting signs warning that shoplifters will be prosecuted or as sophisticated as close-circuit television, dummy cameras, electronic article protection tags, surveillance cameras and computerized inventory control systems.
“There is a trend out there that says retailers are realizing how much shrinkage is costing. Once you get to three, 4 ½ percent, you’ve got a problem on your hands,” explains Art Good, director, Retail and Distribution Services, Ernst & Young, Toronto. “There’s always got to be some shrinkage but if you can get it under one percent you’re in good shape.”
How do retailers reduce shrinkage? By creating employee awareness programs and informing both staff and potential shoplifters that they will be prosecuted. Good suggests that retailers deal with the culture and develop employee awareness training on an ongoing basis.” He advises retailers to get a shrinkage department, then use consultants for input. Finally, let employees know that theft will not be tolerated—even senior staff.
In many ways, a retail organization’s loss prevention strategy is dependent upon its employees’ honest and ability to detect dishonest behavior among coworkers. According to a Canadian Retail Hardware Association training videotape, called Counterattack: Strategies for Loss Prevention, dishonest staff members steal up to five times as much as shoplifters.
Caught in the ever-tightening squeeze of the recession, combined with frozen wages, many employees feel underpaid and turn to theft. Often they rationalize that their company can afford the loss. They may even steal merchandise simply because they’re mad at their boss.
Pat Delesalle, managing director, retailing at Lumberland Building Materials Ltd. In Burnaby, B.C., says his company has a lot of shrinkage in the yard.” Internal theft has been a big problem in the last year,” says Delesalle, whose family owns 18 stores and employs about 1,000 people.
All stores are alarmed and, in some locations, there is camera surveillance. Yet, DeleSalle says customers have often notified management to watch someone who “didn’t ring it in properly, left the money outside the till or “asked if I wanted to buy the product for 50 cents off the dollar.”
Although Lumberland uses outside people to shop the staff, an alert customer recently informed management of a cheating cashier. It turned out that she had helped herself to $50,000 over the course of a year. Charges have been laid against the individual who began stealing within a month of being hired.
At Eves Do-it Center in Newmarket, Ont., owner Ron Sarjeant admits to feeling betrayed by employees who steal.
“I give them a very good purchase price on product but I also make them put that through on a charge account. Then I can keep track of what they’re buying to discourage theft.
“We’ve got wage cuts and people aren’t as satisfied now , as they once were, with getting increases every six months,” he adds, aware that the economy has affected retail employees’ spirits.
A disgruntled staff member is more likely to take advantage of any opportunity to steal, so it’s important to screen employees for honesty in the interview. After the employee is hired, management should train that individual to watch for pilferage.
“Our biggest thing is just keeping the staff alert to theft and to be on the lookout for it,” explains Sarjeant, when he’s asked how he deters shoplifters. “I believe that’s the best way to keep everybody aware of it and be on the lookout.
“We know that it’s happening,” says Sarjeant, “and we’re not catching them, because we find empty packages around the store—small hardware items, packaged plumbing, electrical packages.” The store’s 22 full and part-time employees are taught by supervisors to be on the lookout for suspicious or shifty-eyed individuals and strangers carrying a bag or large coat.
However, Delesalle at Lumberland says even the familiar faces have to be scrutinized. “Our floor walkers catch more regular customers than anybody else. They know our system, our weaknesses. They rationalize it and say they don’t get enough of a discount.”
Meanwhile, Good at Ernst & Young believes the only way to combat shrinkage is to constantly work on it and respond to suggestions. “People don’t steal if they’re being watched–and when they know the company won’t tolerate it.”
Jim Flewit of Jim Flewitt & Associates, a security mirror supplier, believes with the trend toward warehouse-style retailing, consisting of “larger buildings and not a lot of staff–security mirrors create an awareness. You don’t’ find the staff you used to, so the mirrors are filling for lost staff.”
Mel Fruitman, vice-president of the Retail Council of Canada, says mirrors are ubiquitous in retail stores, yet “You never see (retail employees) glancing up at the mirrors to see anything.” He suggests that employees “look in those things occasionally, particularly if you’ve noticed someone go down that aisle and can’t see them. Just glance up there and see what they’re doing.”
Says McKinnon of Lansing Buildall: “Security people go both ways on mirrors. Usually the thief watches for blind spots in them and that’s where they head with merchandise.”
At Eves Do-It Center, employees keep an eye on the mirror in the hardware area of their store’s 8,500 square foot space. “Ours is an L-shaped store and there’s an area that’s a blind spot to us from the service desk,” says Sarjeant. “We have to keep wandering through the area.”
Greenwood Home Hardware is located at Halifax’s largest mall. The store has low ceilings, so owner Gordon Squires doesn’t rely on security mirrors to catch shoplifters. Customers enter through a turnstile—where they are always greeted by a staff member—and exit via a cashier. Employees count on good service to deter thieves.
Squires’ advice on handling shoplifters? “Help them to death.” A suspected shoplifter in Greenwood Home Hardware quickly discovers that down every aisle and around every corner yet another eager and friendly salesperson is waiting to offer assistance. Squires laughs, “You either have a ticked-off shoplifter or an impressed customer.”
With shrinkage amounting to less than two percent, Squires hopes to reduce paper worker errors when he installs a computerized inventory control system some time next year. To further discourage shoplifters, Squires has wired his tools to an alarm system.
“Our displays are all open with an electronic alarm set up. It’s physically impossible to take them more than six inches away.” Squires lost two, $200 drills before installing the wire that secures the tools,
Although retailers often secure merchandise such measures can have a negative impact on sales. “Some people kept the power tools displayed behind the glass case,” says Mike Dorschner, national accounts manager, Milwaukee Electric Tool (Canada) Ltd. “Then you have some people, and I’ll use Aikenhead’s as an example, who are more hands-on oriented. They want people when they come in to try a tool before they buy it.”
Dorschner adds, “Our tools are the kind of tools that if you can feel them hear them, see them, touch them, smell them—that kind of thing—you know you have a quality product in your hands. It’s hard to convey that message to a prospective customer when it’s caged off or behind the counter.”
Yet, in the long run, a secured power tool may offer more protection from shoplifters than a timid staff member. Says McKinnon of Lansing Buildall: “It’s hard for employees to play police officer. They don’t want to get involved. They see something but the majority of them will never say anything.”
Police Constable Ed Przbylo forMetro Police, 14 Division, in Toronto says, “You have the right to stop shoplifters and hold them for the police. Once people are caught they’re pretty passive. “But he advises personnel to be on their guard. The shoplifter may be armed.
Experiences at Lumberland in B.C. confirm the officer’s warning. Pat Delesalle says violent situations appear to be increasing. “Our security people have been punched, knives have been drawn and when you get a ring of people stealing merchandise for resale to buy drugs, these people are not at their best.”
Delesalle claims his company’s full-time security team enjoys nothing better than to catch a thief: “We have two security people. One’s an ex-policeman and one’s a certified private investigator. “They’re like Wyatt Earp, to them it’s like making a big sale.”
Would you Hire This Person?
It’s possible to separate the bad apples from the good in an interview situation simply by checking all your information.
Bob Thomas, national manager, Resources Protection at Sears Canada Inc., says job applicants have been known to lie about their educational training and even conjure up a non-existent address for their resumes.
Thomas suggests that employers use pre-employment screening, which, he says, is as simple as “looking over the application for vague information and time gaps–they could have been in jail or fired from their job.
“You should always call the previous employers and ask, ‘Would you rehire this person?” That’s basic, basic stuff that’s so important to do.”
At Lumberland Materials Ltd., Pat Delesalle, managing director, retailing, says job candidates are given a voluntary integrity test. This questionnaire, known as the Reed Test, is designed to gauge the subjective quality of personal integrity. “It’s important that we have honest people on our staff,” explains Delesalle. “Dishonesty breeds dishonesty.”
Applicants aren’t told the test’s purpose and according to Delesalle, most people aren’t aware that they’re filling out an honesty test. “The cost of getting rid of people is so expensive these days—you might as well put the money up front,” he reasons.
“Honesty testing isn’t widely used in Canada,” says Thomas at Sears. “Because our legislation is different, our questions have to be framed differently. Management is leery of going that far.
Assessment testing has been around for almost 2,000 years, according to Marijane Terry, director of assessments at The Toronto firm of Geller, Shedletsky & Weiss, where industrial psychologists have conducted assessment tests since the late ’70s.
Applicants are screened to help establish the skills and behaviours needed for the position and other job-relevant criteria.
“Through interviewing and a questionnaire,” says Terry, “It’s possible to determine how the person sees themselves and their achievements.”
Btu she is dubious of the effectiveness of honesty screening. “None of that works,” says Terry. “We haven’t been satisfied when they’ve provided validity.”
But Ann Frech, an account manager with London House, a Macmillan/McGraw-Hill company in Rosemont, Ill., which specializes in human resource assessments, disagrees. She reasons: “These tests impact shrinkage and turnover rates and save the company a lot of money.”
The tests are said to have an accuracy rate of over 80 percent and according to Frech, they’re used by large retailers across the United States and in Canada.
Canada Post printed this stamp in 2011 as part of a competition inviting the public to create greater mental health awareness.
Musician Steven Page to speak at A Mental Health Morning
The songwriter will discuss his struggles with depression and mental illness to help raise funds for mental health and addiction programs at St. Joe’s.
On Oct. 7, a virtual breakfast featuring a keynote address from Music Hall of Famer Steven Page will help to raise awareness and funds for St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s world-class mental health and addiction program.
“I feel a kinship to the speakers,” says Angela Jaspan when reflecting on the Mental Health Morning keynotes she’s heard over the years. Jaspan lives with schizoaffective disorder and says, “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, it’s really helpful for everyone to hear from someone of that fame and stature and to learn from their experience with mental illness. It helps to show that mental illness can affect anyone.”
Now in its eighth year, A Mental Health Morning will take place from 8 to 9 a.m. Donations will go toward providing continued, first-rate care in the Mental Health and Addiction program at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, the regional lead in mental health and addiction care.
Before COVID-19, tickets to A Mental Health Morning event ticket were $50. But this year, individuals can attend the virtual event for free.
“We wanted to do something to show the community that we understand the physical, emotional, social and economic impact the pandemic has had on the mental health of all Canadians,” says Sera Filice-Armenio, President & CEO, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation. “A Mental Health Morning is about creating an accessible event and a dedicated time when people can take a moment to care for their own mental health.”
Over the years, the Mental Health Morning event has raised nearly $300,000. This year, by inviting attendees to consider a donation to the Foundation in lieu of the cost of their event ticket, St. Joe’s hopes to raise $50,000. Funds go directly towards mental health and addiction patient care and programming at St. Joe’s.
Individuals, community and corporate groups can register to attend and/or donate until the evening of Oct. 6 at
Corporations are invited to sponsor tables of eight for $750. Colleagues can still connect, in Zoom chat rooms, during the event.
In his keynote, singer/songwriter Page, formerly of The Barenaked Ladies and now a solo musician and theatrical artist, will discuss his struggles with depression and mental illness with both candour and humour.
A passionate mental health advocate, Page will talk about how songwriting assisted him on his journey toward improved mental health. The multiple Juno award winner will also share his talent with songs and his acoustic guitar. At the end of Page’s keynote, guests will have an opportunity to ask questions.
Mental Health Morning guests will also be inspired when they learn the stories behind the Spirit of Hope Award nominees and recipients. Their impactful contributions in the field of mental health or addiction or the obstacles overcome by these youth, individuals, groups and organizations, will further help to destigmatize the public’s perception of mental illness.
The deadline for award nominations is Aug. 31. Click here, for more information.
“I’m still challenged by the illness at its core,” concedes Jaspan. She was honored with an Individual Spirit of Hope Award of her own last year for her work as a part-time peer support counselor at St. Joe’s, and for addressing the public to destigmatize mental illness.
“In a way, St. Joe’s created me,” she says. “Their services nudged me into this role.” She became involved with the hospital’s Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program and worked in the Colours Café at the West 5th Campus. “They believed me, gave me opportunities, helped me with life skills. It’s very typical of St. Joe’s. They want to see you succeed.”
Global News’ Radio’s Ted Michaels’ hosts this year’s event. The AM 900 CHML afternoon news anchor has also received recognition for his efforts to reduce the stigma of mental illness.
Mental health and addiction affect people of all ages, income levels and ethnicities. In Canada, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental illness or addiction. And that illness or addiction will significantly impact their family and the wider community.
All too often, people with mental illness and addiction issues experience stigma and barriers to social integration. But with the help of public awareness events like A Mental Health Morning, change is on the horizon.
“It’s a win-win situation,” says Gordon Dunn of Dunn’s Pro Hardware in North Bay, Ont. He’s talking about energy conservation promotions that save customers dollars in these environmentally-conscious times. “If the sales reps can get the best of their products across to us, the consumer wins, we win and the manufacturer wins.”
Across Canada, fall energy saving ideas initiated by provincial utility companies and Power Smart Inc., a consortium that includes international and 18 major Canadian utility companies, that enable retailers to sell weatherstripping, insulation, interior sealants, energy-saving light bulbs, motion detector lights, storm windows, thermostats and low-flow showerheads, faucet washers and aerators.
The promotions are geared toward the DIYer. Summer’s heat and pesky insects make homeowners more aware of drafts and gaps around doors and windows. By the fall, they’re ready to tackle small reno jobs to winterize their homes.
D.H. Howden & Co. Ltd. , in London, Ont. distributes flyers to promote energy conservation programs from August through to November. “It makes for a good promotion for our dealers to tie into,” explains Bill Wilson, vice-president, merchandising. Howden has 450 Pro Hardware and Do-it center franchise dealers involved in the conservation promotions.
“As you’re going into winter, it really is part of our major selling campaign. And if you look at something like caulking, it’s a major time of the year for sales, so you can do some extra promotions to make it work.”
October is Power Smart Month at Power Smart Inc., which was founded by B.C. Hydro several years ago. Creative marketing campaigns provide about 3,000 stores across Canada with topic-oriented promotion packages, POP signage, displays and information material to inform customers about energy conservation products.
“Our flyers drive customers into the stores…and when the consumer gets in there, if the store is merchandised properly, it works very well,” says Wilson. Stores, he continues, “use up to four feature-ends to display product, wire banners, POS signage. But some use strictly product. They use the whole area and in their signage they try to convince the customer of the benefits of saving dollars with energy-wise products.”
As consumers become more energy conscious and are exposed to co-op ads, media, and in-store signage that talk up the benefits of energy conservation, retailers recognize that they need to be more aware of product features.
Dunn, his co-owner wife, Audrey, and their 11 full-and part-time staff offer customers a wide selection of merchandise in different categories. They carry seven different energy-conservation timers, all recommended by Ontario Hydro and displayed in the 48 feet they devote to energy conservation in their 5,600 square foot store.
“We have this rack right in the middle of our aisle for anybody that’s interested. We inquire what their needs are, what they want to do with the bulb and then we steer them over to the right brochure. And then, instead of the normal spotlight, we say that we also have a Capsylite or halogen or Supersaver bulb that’ll give the same results, but using less energy.”
If a brochure is available, it’s used by staff members to generate interest in energy conservation and specific products. “You’ve got to marry the customer’s basic needs with their pocketbooks, especially during these times,” says Dunn, whose customers often enter the store with questions related to Ontario Hydro’s television ads. He advises retailers: “Show the customer how using that timer is going to save them money and fulfill the needs they never even thought about in the first place.”
Utility companies aren’t the only organizations that work hard to promote energy saving products. General Electric offers a $1,000 shopping spree to promote caulking, while some lighting companies also offer rebate coupons to sell energy-efficient merchandise.
The Nova Scotia Power Corp. put together energy conservation packages wrapped in hot -water tank insulating blankets. Staff at Hector Building Supply in Pictou, N.S. used them to help persuade customers to buy low-flow showerheads. By turning in their old showerheads those customers received a $5 cash rebate.
“We advertised quite aggressively using local print and in-store advertising. We sold around 300 units,” says store owner Allen Johnson, who discovered that customers were initially slow to respond to the energy saving programs.
Hector Building Supply devotes five per cent of the store’s 4,000-square-foot space to 300 energy conservation SKUs, not including windows. During the fall, the store promotes mini-packs of insulation, air exchangers with heat recovery, fibreglass and Low-E glass.
Dunn at Dunn’s Pro Hardware is another retailer who doesn’t waste opportunities to promote energy savings. “When you’re talking to them about weather stripping or lightbulbs, then it’s easy to say, “Well, what are you doing when you plug in your car or your Christmas lights? Have you ever considered using a timer to streamline the exact amount of hours that you want to use?'”
Like any smart retailer, Dunn recognizes that strong energy conservation promotions open the door to easier sales of related products–and long-term savings for satisfied customers.