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GTA independent retailers speak their mind


September 29, 2008
By Amanda Ryder

Sept. 29, Toronto – Credit card fees, inventory management, employee attraction and
retention, managing cash flow and marketing their business are the top
five issues facing GTA's independent retailers.

Toronto-area independent retailers and those who support them gathered
at Mississauga's Living Arts Centre last week to discuss issues and
address concerns affecting small business in the region.

The meeting was part of Independent Retail: A Changing Landscape, a yearlong initiative driven by Retail Council of Canada and Scotiabank Small Business – held the third of its nationwide town hall meetings at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga.

Harinder Takhar, Minister of Small
Business and Consumer Services for Ontario, showed his enthusiasm for
the project by speaking to the crowd and offering his support.

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"Independent retailers are very important to the Canadian economy,"
said Takhar. "When they succeed the entire province benefits.
I commend Retail Council of Canada for all the work it does to support
the Ontario retail industry and our entrepreneurs."

Hosted by independent retailer Paul Simmonds, president of Robert
Simmonds Clothing, the meeting brought together independent retailers,
business leaders, and industry experts to identify opportunities,
challenges and solutions for small business in Ontario.

"Meeting challenges and overcoming obstacles is a day-to-day reality
for independent retailers" says Simmonds. "As an independent retailer
myself, I experience these challenges first-hand. In today's
competitive market, we need to be on top of what's happening to stay
ahead of the game. This task force will ensure we provide the necessary
platform for that to occur"

Keeping on top of all aspects of their business is a constant challenge
for independent retailers – from human resources and loss prevention to
marketing and budgeting. Although independents are competitors in the
marketplace, the town hall meeting provided them with an opportunity to
share ideas and best practices, and most importantly, to establish a
forum to network and support each other, which will benefit the entire
independent retail sector.

"Despite the difficulties and challenges we all have in the operation
of our businesses, these are great and exciting times to be a retailer
in Canada" says Simmonds. "This task force will provide the necessary
framework for collaboration and information sharing that is so
important for our future growth and education. I think we were
successful in achieving our goals in the Toronto meeting, and we will
continue to gather experiences from across the country and be in a
position to provide independents with practical, cost effective
solutions to help them grow and thrive."

Retailers are at the heart of every Canadian community and are the
second-largest labour force in Ontario. Approximately 1 in 10
businesses in the province are retail establishments – 95 per cent of those are
small and independent stores.


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