Travel Tuesday: an island getaway to remember

Prince Edward Island (PEI) has quickly become one of my favourite places to vacation, and summer is definitely the best time to visit! Depending on what you like to do, PEI has something for everyone — below are a few of my PEI hot spots.

Beaching is an absolute must for any island vacation 
I’ve seen many beautiful beaches around the world but there are few that compare to those in PEI!  There are literally beaches everywhere you turn in PEI.  We spent lots of time visiting different beaches, soaking in the sun (Picture: Blooming Point Beach, Located on the North Shore).

Road trip
PEI’s west coast is packed with natural beauty, surrounded by pristine white sand beaches and lots of impressive red sandstone cliffs!  We spent a day exploring the incredibly scenic area of the island, where we visited the West Point Lighthouse (at 69 feet tall, it’s also one of PEI’s tallest and most unique lighthouses).

michelle-flavoursFlavours of PEI
There are so many amazing restaurants to choose from, with (of course) endless seafood and fish dinners. One of my favourite spots during this trip was our dinner at Open Eats in Summerside. I ate an entire pound of mussels to myself, which was absolutely delicious! Open Eats is a fairly new spot in Summerside. They use lots of fresh local foods, the staff was friendly, and the décor was delightful – a definite must if you’re looking for an enjoyable evening out!

Lobster, anyone? For a real taste of the island, there’s nothing more fun or authentic than a traditional lobster supper! Throughout the summer months, the best place for a lobster dinner is in New Glasgow — PEI Lobster Supper. Once you’re seated, you’re not only served lobster, but all-you-can-eat mussels, chowder, salad, dinner rolls, and dessert!

michelle-cow2Ice cream until the cows come home
A visit to PEI wouldn’t be the same without a stop at Cows Ice Cream — they really do serve Canada’s best ice cream! And, their hilariously-named flavours will leave you chuckling with every bite: wowie cowie, moo henry, don cherry, michelle-brewerygooey mooey.

Island Breweries
PEI may be new to the craft brewery scene but it is already excelling. The PEI Brewing Company, located in Charlottetown, is a brewer and distributor of all-natural craft beer.  They offer a great brewery tour, where you can see firsthand how they make my favourite beer – “The Gahan Blueberry Ale” (there wasn’t enough Blueberry beer to quench my thirst!).

And MORE island breweries!
michelle-brewery2Another great spot for craft beers is Upstreet Brewery, which opened in June 2015. We spent an evening there enjoying their large selection of draft beers, and even got to  meet Dylan Menzie (a local celebrity / musician who made it to the final round of CBC Music’s Searchlight contest).

Full of rural charm, surrounded by pristine white sand beaches, and with so many exciting attractions and  experiences to enjoy, this is one island where you’d be happy to be stranded!


Featured small biz – JB Salon

jb-salonJB Salon offers professional hair services and a commitment to provide a personalized consultation to fit your. They offer convenient hours and free parking at Murrayville Square in Langley. You can enjoy a complementary beverage while experiencing theirr modern, friendly environment.  JB Salon’s founders vision is to grow JB Salon as well as to give back to the community through fundraising and donations. They have sponsored BC Children’s Hospital, Douglas Park Community School and the Langley School District, and look forward to supporting other organizations in the community in the future.

For more information about our featured small biz visit the Shop Small Biz directory.

Featured deal:

Every Wednesday is Seniors Day (get 20% off regular hair services)

Free Webinar – Creating a Successful Small Business Website 101: Approach and Execution

shutterstock_216859354croppedDid you know that 88% of Canadians will research online before making a purchase at your place of business? Furthermore, 80% of Canadians’ searches are for local purchases.

Having a compelling, effective website is no longer a nice to have for entrepreneurs. It is now an essential tool in running your successful small business. Everyone is looking for the magic bullet solution – the tactical advantage that will act as a launch pad for your business and its bottom line.

There are numerous tools and strategies that businesses can implement on the web to contribute to that goal, but which ones do you choose, and are those individual tactics enough?

In this free webinar, Andrew VanderPloeg, VP Communications at Bark Communications, will share valuable strategies on how to strategically approach your site, and then within that strategy, employ effective tactics to win on the web.

This webinar is free but space is limited. Please sign up for your preferred date below today.

Creating a Successful Small Business Website 101: Approach and Execution
September 27, 2016 at 1pm EDT

Creating a Successful Small Business Website 101: Approach and Execution
September 28, 2016 at 1pm EDT

You do not need to be a web developer or designer to benefit from this webinar.

A life-long love affair with independent book stores

By Jessika Diamond

I love books.

I think it’s genetically bred into me, with my family having sold books for more than a century.

In July 1810, Louis, King of the Netherlands, forced Jews to take family names, and like many of our Gentile neighbours, we took names related to our trades. The name my great-greats chose?


Thanks to anti-Jewish legislation prohibiting the owning of businesses in the Netherlands during World War II, my grandmother sold the bookstore to a family friend. My mom still lived above it until she moved to Canada, making me and my sisters the first generation of descendants not to grow up in the family bookstore since the mid-19th century.

Not that we haven’t done our best to duplicate this environment at home – my mom had close to 6,000 books when I was growing up, and I myself have a few floor-to-ceiling shelves double-stacked.

Due to this particular family history, my loyalty has always been to independent stores. They don’t have the volume sales to offer insane discounts on the selected (read: generally overstocked and badly-selling) books, but you can’t beat the selection or the customer service.

If I go to a chain and ask for something by my favourite fantasy author, they’ll have the latest few books from her and maybe one or two of her earlier works. Bakka Phoenix (84 Harbord St, Toronto), on the other hand, has just about every book this author ever wrote. This is especially true if the author is new to you but has been around for a while: don’t even bother with a chain. You’ll only be able to buy bits and pieces of a series.

I have an acquaintance who writes a mystery series that takes place in San Francisco. Her stuff’s not a huge seller, and I’ve looked into Chapters to find it – they had only her latest. Sleuth of Baker Street (907 Millwood Rd, Toronto), the mystery bookstore, however, has her work front and centre in the new releases.

Before every move, I purge my book collection to get it back down to a “manageable” 2,000 titles. I generally do this by selling books to second-hand bookstores. In my latest purge, I brought books to BMV (multiple locations; I chose 471 Bloor W, Toronto). I walked in with four boxes of books and walked out with nearly $200.

They opened and checked the spine of every book, buying only the ones with few-to-no cracks in the spine. They only buy books in good quality, which means they only sell books in good quality. They pay $1 and up for each book, and their prices to buy are reasonable. If I can spend $5 to buy a two-year-old, almost-new book at a second-hand store, versus spending $11.99 for a new copy at a large chain, I know where I’m going.

I’m a big fan of excellent customer service. In my experience, most of the employees I deal with at chain stores are simply employees – decent and knowledgeable about their section, yet that’s about it. I’ve lost track of how many times an employee at a second-hand or independent store has bent over backwards for me, taking time to specially order books of a genre that’s completely outside their wheelhouse, going to the back and searching, calling me on their day off to tell me that the store couldn’t order X book but they found it at another independent in town for me…

After all this writing about independent bookstores… I think I know where I will be going shopping today!


14248947_10153636288831537_1741204463_Jessika Diamond is a senior event manager working in the green building industry. A life-long reader who still favours paper over e-books, especially since she reads in the bath, she’s even been known to bring books on dates (though in all fairness, that started when she was dating a firefighter who often got called out on fires during dates). She also listens to e-books when she drives or walks, and vehemently avoids those “What fictional reality should you live in?” quizzes because she wants to experience ALL of them.

Featured small biz – Red Tree Wellness

red tree logo colour exploration V2At Red Tree Wellness, healing begins as you enter the door –  you will feel the energy shift and the healing begin. They provide a comfortable, calm and supportive environment. Red Tree Wellness practitioners are professional, warm, compassionate and caring practitioners who are there to support your path to balance. The healing extends beyond human nature to mother nature, and they are proud of their conscious ecological footprint at the clinic.

Red Tree Wellness uses both western and eastern medicine approaches. They also collaborate and communicate with other health care professionals which enhances treatment quality and results. They take the time to hear your concerns and integrate them in your healing process. Red Tree Wellness was established in 2006, and are centrally located in Vancouver in the Fairmont Medical Building at 750 West Broadway Avenue.

For more information about our featured small biz visit the Shop Small Biz directory.

A Bigger and Better Shop Small Biz Directory is Coming Soon!

ssb_laptop_en-cropped-2-coming-soonWe have some fabulous news for Shop Small Biz participants – both businesses and consumers. We will soon launch a new and improved Shop Small Biz!

There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to bring you a value added online experience. The new and improved Shop Small Biz will continue to offer you many of the same great features, like:

  • Exclusive promotion and access to independently owned Canadian businesses
  • High impact campaigns to connect local businesses with the people who love to support them
  • Downloadable imagery

Here is a taste of what we will be adding:

  • A better design that will be easier to navigate
  • More options for businesses to customize their profile
  • Ability to target other businesses and/or consumers
  • An opportunity for shoppers to review and comment on their favourite shops
  • An events calendar

CFIB members will get additional benefits, including:

  • Access to free premium ad space on the Shop Small Biz homepage and social media
  • A member-only section that lets your business promote exclusive deals and events to other CFIB members
  • Customizable, downloadable posters and imagery

Our directory overhaul will be complete in time for our annual Small Business Saturday event, which will take place on Saturday, October 22nd, 2016. Make sure to stay tuned for our brand new website and announcements of more exciting stuff to come on Small Business Saturday!

Featured small biz – Shopgirls Gallery Boutique

shopgirlsShopsgirls Gallery Boutique was established in Parkdale Village, Toronto, Ontario in 2007 by Michelle Germain. It carries women’s clothing and accessories that are stylish and creative from over 80 Canadian designers and includes the most figure flattering jeans in the world! Shopgirls Gallery Boutique offers expert advice on making all women look and feel incredible.

They are the largest retailer of C’est Moi clothing and Second Denim’s Yoga Jeans. C’est Moi produces a wide selection of those basic pieces that every woman should own in the most durable, breathable, and comfortable fabrics, guaranteed to solve many a wardrobe woe. Yoga Jeans are a staff and customer favorite.

shopgirls2By buying Canadian, you’ll not only look great, but feel great about your choice to support our economy and designers that wouldn’t be able to exist otherwise.

For more information about our featured small biz visit the Shop Small Biz directory.