The Good Shopper Blog

"Canadian pride may not rest on our sleeves, but it resides deeply in our hearts."

Steve Miller


Stocking stuffers made in Canada...from Dollarama! (Part 4)

By / Par: Isabelle Remy - Dorval, Quebec

Category / Catégorie: From Isabelle

Here is the last instalment in my 4-part series on Canadian-made stocking stuffers from the Dollarama. Yes, that's what I said; you can find Made-in-Canada items that retail for $ 1.00 (and a few for $2.00)!

If you missed the previous posts, you can read them here:

Part 1 (stocking stuffers for kids)

Part 2 (stocking stuffers for Mom)

Part 3 (stocking stuffers for Dad)

And of course, let's not forget about our beloved pets at Christmastime!  They provide us with joy and unconditional love all year long, so why not fill a special stocking just for them? Here are a few things they will appreciate on Christmas morning:


Clockwise from top:

  1. Just for Me dog biscuits (340 g)
  2. Loving Morsels dry cat food (800 g)
  3. Rex dog treats (pig ears)
  4. My Buddy sunflower seeds
  5. Just for Me dog treats (113 g)

Total cost (before taxes): $ 6.00

And of course, the treat your pet will enjoy the most is free: a nice long walk or a good scratch or an invitation to join you on the couch!

I hope this series has shown that buying Canadian does not always mean spending more money. But it always does mean spending money more wisely, as it contributes to our local economy, keeps jobs in this country and cuts down on our carbon footprint. Now that's a good deal!

From all of us here at Buy Canadian First, we wish you a very Happy Holiday Season filled with joy, peace, family and love!


Stocking stuffers made in Canada...from Dollarama! (Part 1)

By / Par: Isabelle Remy - Dorval, Quebec

Category / Catégorie: From Isabelle

Christmas is a little tougher than usual for many families this year. 2009 has been a difficult year financially for many Canadians, and money is tighter than ever. In difficult times, it seems even harder to buy Canadian. It is undeniable that products made in Canada are often more expensive then the imported ones; it's the price of quality. Shopping with a conscience for the Holidays is trickier than ever this year, but thankfully, we're here to help!

In the past few days, I've been hard-at-work scouring my local Dollarama for made-in-Canada stocking stuffers (did you notice how prices have increased at the dollar store this year?). I'm not saying it was easy, but I did find a few fun things your family will enjoy finding in their stockings on Christmas morning. I prepared a series of 4 posts, which will cover 4 different themes.

As usual, let's start with the kids!


Clockwise from top:

1) Dora honey graham snacks (80 g)
2) Funstuff liquid paint (236 ml)
3) Caillou hand-soap (237 ml)
4) Mini hockey stick
5) Hannah Montana chocolate-covered marshmallow (22 g)
6) Original Dubble-Bubble gumballs (100 g)
7) High School Musical decorative wall decals
8) SpongeBob Colgate toothpaste (75 ml)

Total cost (before taxes): $ 10.00

Not bad! Now add to that some homemade treats (your recipe or ours ) and you've got it made!

Next, let's take care of Mom...

Image source: Isabelle Remy


Amazing coupon deals for Made in Canada products

By / Par: Guest bloggers

Category / Catégorie: Tips and tricks

Like most people today, I'm watching my spending. I mean, I always paid attention to what was in my wallet but not to the same extent as today. Economists and the media could say what they want about the recession being over in Canada, but until I see it first hand, in my bank account, on my investment statements, I will continue to count my pennies. It's just common sense to do so anyway.

Me being me, I kinda took it to another level in the last couple of weeks: I've been scouring the web for deals and discount coupons and contests. This means that I've taken a huge interest in coupons and special promotions. I spent some time exploring and lo and behold, they had coupons for some Canadian-made goods and services. Some pointed to VisaPerks' website and that's where I hit the mother-load! I've been Tweeting about these deals all week, but I thought it would be better to put them all down here and link you guys to the right pages. Here they are alphabetically.

Happy bargain hunting y'all!

Birks - 10% (think Canadian Diamonds and Gold!) - Expires: Nov 1, 09


 Cake Beauty - 30% - Expires: Dec 31, 09


Canada's style at home magazine - 75% - Expires: Jan 31, 10
Canadian family magazine - 70% - Expires: Jan 31, 10

Canadian Gardening magazine - 60% - Expires: Jan 31, 10

Canadian HomeWorkshop - 55% - Expires: Jan 31, 10

Elle Canada magazine - 75% - Expires: Jan 31, 10

Escents - 20% - Expires: Jan 31, 10
Foxy Originals - 25% - Expires: Feb 1, 10

Hockey News - 65% - Expires: Jan 31, 10 (think Canadian Diamonds and Gold!) - 25% - Expires: Jan 31, 10

lavish & lime (great made-in-Canada section!) - $10 - Expires: Jan 31,10

Lush - $10 - Expires: Sep 30, 09 (that's really soon!)

Outdoor Canada magazine - 60% - Expires: Jan 31, 10

rasberry kids (carry great Canadian-made brands) - 15% - Expires: Jan 31, 10

Toronto Life magazine - 75% - Expires: Jan 31, 10 (all Canadian brands flagged) - $10 - Expires: Jan 31, 10
  Author: Melissa Thibodeau


Buy where?

By / Par: Andrea Willowcat - St. Jean Baptiste, Manitoba

Category / Catégorie: Canadians making waves

Canadians are concerned about the new protectionist stance in the buy American provision of the US stimulus bill. America's new bill already has Canadian steel mills on edge with several more industries curious of their fates as well. The bottom line is that this provision could potentially cause a ‘tit-for-tat' retaliation by other countries who could adopt the same policies causing global trade wars and impose a reintroduction of huge tariffs that NAFTA phased out. You may wonder why Canada hasn't implemented a similar provision; it is because the Canadian government adheres to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and World Trade Organization (WTO)?

On February 19th 2009 President Obama and Prime Minister Harper met in Ottawa for a news conference, you can read the transcript here. The leaders discussed many things that included the Buy American act and NAFTA, Obama assured to uphold his obligations to NAFTA and WTO and said this:

Now you didn't ask me about the "Buy American" provisions, but since it relates to our recovery package, let me just reiterate -- and I said this very clearly before the bill was passed and before I signed it -- that I think it was very important to make sure that any provisions that were there were consonant with our obligations under WTO and NAFTA.

He also stated:

I provided Prime Minister Harper an assurance that I want to grow trade and not contract it. And I don't think that there was anything in the recovery package that is adverse to that goal.

Prime Minister Harper also commented on the provisions:

On -- on the "Buy American" provisions -- and let's also be very clear, as well, that in both WTO and NAFTA, there are -- there are industries and there are ways in which and there are levels of government at which one can have domestic preferences and purchasing policies...So I think it's critical that the United States has been a leader for a long time in the goals of an open global economy. I think it's critical that that -- that that leadership continue. And I'm -- I'm quite confident that the United States will respect those obligations and continue to be a leader on the need for globalized trade.

Here at Buy Canadian First we always say "it's not about buying Canadian always, it's about buying Canadian first"; it's knowing and weighing your options. Shopping consciously in much the same way consumers are looking for eco-friendly products. 

I'm curious, if what Prime Minister Harper says is true, that these treaties have ‘domestic preferences and purchasing policies' then clearly some of the outsourcing practices conducted at the Government level doesn't make sense - Stephen Harper.

Why has 48 year old Grohmann Knives Limited lost its contract to supply the Canadian Military to a lesser quality non Canadian-made knife? Why has the Ontario Government's procurement office stopped buying their Ontario flags (of all things!!) manufactured by a Toronto company and instead purchased them from a foreign flag maker?

Shouldn't our Government be setting the example first (there's that word again) for all Canadians to be inspired by? Hopefully Harper's new economic action plan can look into the allowed ‘domestic preferences' and start practicing what it preaches. God knows our hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers could use the contracts!

Not that I want to turn this post into a rant line, but I'm asking you to leave a comment about how you feel about this and tell me if you know of other examples of such contradictions and lost contracts. Our Account Managers will then contact them and see how Buy Canadian First could help them.

Image source:


Made-in-Canada changes lives

By / Par: Guest bloggers

Category / Catégorie: What's hot

I've gotten into the habit of asking the people in my life if because they know what I do for a living (and that I can't shut up about it) has impacted the way they themselves shop. The resounding answer I got was “Yes, damn you!” Evidently, like for everyone who works at Buy Canadian First, it seems that all our friends and family can no longer pick-up a product while shopping and not look at the country-of-origin label. They care about what the label says.

When I'm at the grocery store, I try to only buy produce that is grown in Canada. Regardless of season. Obviously this is difficult right now, but I am still amazed at what produce does grow in Canada - even in February. And what lacks in fresh, I can find frozen, which to me, is just as good. In some cases I have not had any choice but to buy food from other countries, but I consciously try to limit my radius to the US. I'm that stubborn about it now. It's a lifestyle choice I've made and I can't say I'm bored or hungry at all. Since the start of winter I have consistently gone home from the supermarket satisfied with my bags full of fresh Canadian-grown produce and other products of Canada and felt that my choices have contributed to the growth of our food manufacturing businesses.

As far as consumer goods are concerned, I won't lie and tell you it's easy to only buy Canadian. Some products are really hard to find. It would help if retailers would train their staff to know which of their products or brands are made in Canada because most times they just shrug and say they don't know. This is especially true when you walk into large retailers. How do I go about it? I do research online first: I find the manufacturers and their websites and then check out the “store finder” pages. Then, if the products I'm looking for aren't sold in Montreal or the GMA, I'll consider buying them online. After a while though, you develop a feel for it. It becomes a habit. Even before I joined Buy Canadian First, I already knew of a couple dozen brands that were made here. Now obviously I know of hundreds more, but I have my favourites I stick to.

Of course there is what I buy when I shop and what my boyfriend buys. He tries really hard to buy Canadian most of the time but he's not as obsessed about it as me and that's perfectly OK. Last fall, he went out of his way to find a made-in-Canada snow-brush, scraper and shovel for me, as this was going to be my first winter driving my very first car (I am the proud owner of a Canadian-made 2009 Toyota Matrix). He was pleasantly surprised to discover that the type of brush and scraper he would purchase for himself was made by a Canadian manufacturer (Mallory Industries). So he was supporting Canadian-made without even realizing it, simply because he never paid attention to labels before...Not until he met me ;-)

I'm sure if you scour your home for everyday items you will be happy to see how many Canadian-made products you already endorse, without knowing it. That's how I first discovered that Le Chateau manufactures in Canada; that Tristan has a Canadian-made collection; that Roots still manufactures some apparel in Canada; my super comfy pillow was made by Montrealers at LBC ; that my favourite bath products by Canus and Lush were made in Canada and not to mention all the "Products of Canada" that were already in my pantry. 

Believe me, once you start seeking out to buy Canadian intentionally, you will not be able shop like you used to ever again...and I don't think that's a bad thing. Suddenly the country of origin becomes a big deal. You will proudly add “AND it's made in Canada” to your answer when people ask you “oh where did you get that?” But you will also get frustrated in your quest to find your canadian-made equivalent of a readily available foreign-made product and at times you will postpone your search or even give up. Some days you will also acquiesce to the foreign-made item. But the best thing you could do is walk into a store, find the manager and specifically ask the question “do you sell an xyz that is made in Canada?”

We the consumers have so much power. If we all started to put more pressure on our merchants to carry more canadian-made goods or suffer the loss of business, what do you think would happen? ESPECIALLY now, in these tough economic times. By buying Made in Canada, you are supporting manufacturers, helping them to stay in Canada or to simply stay in business. You are being socially and environmentally responsible but more importantly, what's on everyone's minds these days is that you are ensuring the livelihoods of hundred of thousands of Canadian workers. Statistics Canada has estimated that over 300,000 Canadians are at risk of losing their job this year. This past January, we already saw 129,000 jobs disappear. This drop in employment exceeds any monthly decline during the previous economic downturns of the 1980s and 1990s.

Out motto here at Buy Canadian First has always been that it's not about buying Canadian's about considering Canadian-made first. We built this website to help consumers find those Canadian-made products and to make it easier for manufacturers to find their end-users. My wish is that one day I will receive hoards of emails and comments stating just one thing, and I will know what it means: "Damn you! ;-)"

Are you up for the challenge?

Image source: Flickr Creative Commons - christopher.woo, ralphbijker

Author: Melissa Thibodeau


Last-minute stocking fillers made in Canada…from Dollarama! (Part 1)

By / Par: Isabelle Remy - Dorval, Quebec

Category / Catégorie: From Isabelle

I have to admit something: I have a love-hate relationship with the dollar store...My local Dollarama is a source of conflicting feelings which I'm forever struggling to reconcile. On one hand, I am turned off by all the knock-offs and low-quality imported products found on their shelves. Toys don't last more than an hour, and scotch tape does not stick! On the other hand, I must admit how practical and affordable some of those consumable items are: gift bags, party & scrap-booking supplies, activity books for kids, etc.

A few weeks ago, I found out something amazing: there are Canadian-made products at Dollarama! And they retail for $ 1.00! Can you believe it? I could not either. When I shared this juicy piece of information with Jessica Brown of the CBC, during our interview of November 24th, she was so surprised she mentioned it in her news report! Watch it here.

So I challenged myself to the following: in these uncertain economic times, when everyone is trying to reduce their spending, could I fill some stockings with inexpensive Canadian-made items from Dollarama? Well, after spending an hour and a half looking at product labels with my 11-year old son Nicholas (what's the big deal with child labour anyway...;-), I came up with enough supplies to fill 5 different themed stockings, all under $ 12.00 each (taxes included!). I thought this nifty fact could be of interest to others, so this is the first post in a series of 5 detailing the contents of each stocking.

Let's start with the kids' one, of course!


In the picture above, clockwise from front left:

  • Sandy Lion stickers (27 stickers)
  • Choco-Paradise macaroons (130 g)
  • Caillou bubble bath (500 ml)
  • Kids 2-in-1 Cherry Splash shampoo (444 ml)
  • Caillou hand-soap (237 ml)
  • Hershey's mini OhHenry (130 g)
  • Disney honey graham cookies (80 g)
  • Bubble King giant gumballs (5 pieces)
  • Comet chocolates "Santa's Parade" (33 g)

I bet Santa will be happy to hear about that!

Next chapter: the animal lover's stocking.


The news people were here! How fun is that?

By / Par: Isabelle Remy - Dorval, Quebec

Category / Catégorie: From Isabelle

We had quite the exciting day at the office yesterday! Jessica Brown from CBC News Montreal at Six, dropped-by for an on-screen interview. 

Late November is traditionally known as a huge shopping period, especially South of the border (Black Friday phenomenon), but in this time of economic uncertainty, we would love to see more shoppers stay closer to home and support the local economy! Doesn't that make more sense? That's what I told the CBC. Watch the segment here!

I can't tell you how delighted I am to see the media paying attention to the buy-Canadian movement. It confirms and bolsters the trend while raising awareness of the importance of supporting Canadian manufacturers large and small.

What do you think of Black Friday? Are you going to seek out made-in-Canada holiday gifts? Let us know!


Shoppers: Speak up!

By / Par: Isabelle Remy - Dorval, Quebec

Category / Catégorie: From Isabelle

Yes, I'm talking to you! I know you're actively looking for Canadian-made products. How do I know? The trend is clear, every one agrees, and that's great! So what have you done about it? Have you asked your local retailers to stock more goods Made-in-Canada on their shelves? Do you know how much power you have as a consumer to influence what products end up in retail stores?

This is a true grassroots movement and therefore must make it's way UP the supply chain. The good news is that consumers like you and I have the most power in this game, so let's use it! Have you ever tried to request a favourite brand at your local grocer and been surprised to find it there next time you visit? Don't be surprised: that's how it works!

So let's all get out there and take the time to ask store managers for the kind of products we want to see on their shelves. And if they tell you they don't know where to find those products, feel free to direct them to we've got some great manufacturers and artisans to introduce them to!

As the economy slows down and we get more discerning about what we spend our hard-earned money on, let's make sure we support our own economy so we can keep our jobs and keep buying those Canadian products. It's up to all of us to make our voices heard. Make sure you come back and let us know how your own personal campaign is going!

Image source: Creative Commons, Flickr - Canada's online drugstore
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