Headquarters Blog

April 18 2012

Plus-Size Resources for Canadian Shoppers

By Kate Musgrove

One of the areas that Canada lags behind the US in terms of availability and variety is plus-size clothing options. And it's not hard to understand why -- Canadians tend to be slimmer than Americans. (The average Canadian woman weighs 19 pounds less than the average American woman.) If you are a plus-size shopper in Canada, here's a quick look at some of the best retailers we've found:

  • - I'm continually surprised by the volume and breadth of the plus-size section at They have styles from Ralph Lauren, Style and Co, Calvin Klein, Jones New York, Tahari and other brands, and there are very frequent price reductions and sales. There's a mix of splurges ($285 silk blazer!) and steals ($17 Ralph Lauren turtleneck or $20 Jones New York tee).
  • Addition Elle and Penningtons - the cornerstones of Canadian plus-size shopping. They can have great deals, but I'm often irked by seeing that $7.50 shipping charge at checkout. They accept returns in-store, which is handy if you happen to have one nearby. Prices are moderate -- you'd be hard-pressed to find a single apparel item over $90 (outerwear excluded).
  • - not a true plus-size retailer, but their standard sizes go up to XXL (in tops/dresses) and 20 (in jeans) which is larger than most retailers. They offer free shipping over $50 and regularly run sales, coupons and other promotions. Old Navy's US site has a dedicated plus-size section with sizes up to 4X, but shipping and duty from the US can be pretty steep.
  • - huge plus-size selection and most items have a lot of customer reviews, which I always find helpful. A wonderful resource for plus-size swimwear as well. Although they're a US brand, they have free shipping promotions at least once a week and those promotions include Canada. Can be a bit pricier (it's not uncommon to see a $70 shirt) but with the quality of the clothing merits it -- and regular promotions and free shipping bring the prices down.
  • Lola + Gigi - a boutique-style site with apparel from Kiyonna, Lundstrom, Melissa Masse and others. Items are gorgeous -- but can be priced as high as $695. The sale section is worth keeping an eye on -- there are sometimes very discounted items available.

And if you're open to cross-border shopping the options open up even more, of course. Now tell me -- who did I miss?


April 17 2012

What's New: Revamped Return Policy from Sears Canada, Longer Shopping Hours in MB + IKEA Electronics

By Kate Musgrove

There's a lot of news in the shopping world today with everything from updated return policies to longer shopping hours. Here's a quick roundup of what I've seen so far:

  • is a new site from Tim Hortons intended to help you streamline your daily coffee runs. Currently it just lists beverages -- we'll be sure to let you know when it includes muffins, bagels and breakfast sandwiches!
  • Sears Canada is revamping their return policy next month. They will be removing the 10-day return policy they have previously maintained and put an end to their 20% restocking fee for big items like appliances and electronics.
  • IKEA is launching an electronics line with televisions and sound systems. Here's hoping the TVs don't require assembly! It's in a limited European market right now; we'll see it by the end of 2013.
  • Manitoba is set to increase their Sunday shopping hours! Currently, shopping on Sunday is allowed from 12 PM to 6 PM only.
  • Construction is just about to start on Toronto Premium Outlets, a 500,000 sq. ft. mall outside of Toronto. They're expected to house a number of high-end retailers but no names have been released just yet.
  • Club Monaco launched online shopping today and they're offering free shipping through April 30!


April 17 2012

What Would You Do if You Were Hit with a $1400 Cellphone Bill?

By Danielle O'Hanley

Sometimes I get annoyed when my cellphone bill is $10-$15 over my regular cost, but that's nothing compared to this father who got hit with a $1400 bill this week.

According to Techvibes, the bill came after Alex Dunsmore gave his son a cellphone with an unlimited texting plan. Unfortunately, his son and his girlfriend exchanged some 1000+ texts through a texting app which wasn't so "free" -- he got charged with a long distance fee for every. single. message. On top of that, when the father refused to pay the bill, Rogers "forced termination of both cellphone contracts—and charged $800 in cancellation fees to do so."

The father is arguing that he should have been notified about the excessive spending, but Rogers rebutted by saying that account holders are responsible for their own accounts/fees. Personally, I think this is a good example of why a pay-as-you-go type plan might be better suited to teens (since it's a bit harder to go overboard). I agree that the charges are ridiculous, but that teenager should be paying the many hours of yard work does that work out to?

If you want to get in on the discussion, there's a lengthy thread about the article in the Off Topic forum.


April 16 2012

Club Monaco Online Shopping is Coming...Tomorrow!

By Danielle O'Hanley

Ever since we heard that Club Monaco was planning to roll out online shopping last month, we have been waiting with bated breath for the launch.

Well, the wait is almost over! According to their Twitted feed, they will be launching tomorrow (exclusive to their Facebook fans). If you don't have Facebook, you will have to wait until Wednesday to shop.

We still haven't heard anything about what shipping costs will be like, but we'll be sure to update as soon as we know!


April 13 2012

Great, Free Programs/Software/Add-Ons for PCs

By Kate Musgrove

The team here at spends a lot of time on their computers. A lot of time. Over the years we've come across some great free (of course they're free!) software/programs/add-ons that make our days just a little easier in one way or another. Here's a quick rundown of some of our favourites.

  • Paint.NET - super-easy and surprisingly robust photo editing software
  • Notepad++ - it's basically a highly evolved Notepad product with tons of added features
  • Free Studio - for simple video file conversion
  • Open Office - a great free replacement for MS Office
  • FileZilla - for easy FTP
  • Trillian - chat with friends on multiple clients from any device
  • CutePDF - convert documents from any Windows application to PDF
  • Dropbox - 2 GB of storage you can access from anywhere
  • FireShot - ultra-easy screenshot program for FireFox
  • UltraMon - a very easy way to manage work on multiple monitors (and I also use it between my desktop and my TV)
Do you have a favourite free computer program? We'd love to hear about it!

(Thanks to Vivian, Val, Vincent, Jerowe and Jeff for contributing!)


April 12 2012

Ontario Government Proposes Consumer Cellphone Protection Plan

By Danielle O'Hanley

Sure, the three-year cellphone contract makes buying that shiny new phone a lot more affordable, but wouldn't it be nice if you weren't locking in? If you're unhappy with your cellphone bill or thinking of switching providers, you'll be relieved to hear that the Ontario government announced today that it is moving towards adopting legislation that would allow you to cancel your cellphone contract at any time. It would also protect you from those crazy penalty fees by putting a cap on them.

If the legislation passes, providers would also have to provide more easily digestible information about your bill costs, and would need your express consent to renew, extend or change your contract (I have a friend whose contract was accidentally extended to a 99-month term who would be happy to hear about this).

This new rule would go into effect six months after passing and take effect six months after. If you were to change or extend your existing contract after that date, it would apply to your contract as well.

The consensus seems to be that this would be a win for Canadian consumers, who are tired of being forced into contracts (you can see that with the rising popularity of low-cost, unlimited usage plans in urban centres).

What are your thoughts on the proposed legislation?


April 11 2012

Royal Canadian Mint Looks to Digitize Cash with MintChip

By Kate Musgrove

I never thought I would find myself following the Royal Canadian Mint news cycle, but they're up to some interesting stuff lately! After nixing production of the penny (a decision that the government, not the Mint itself, made) and modernizing the $1 and $2 coins with lettering on the edge of the $2 coin and micro-engraving on both coins they're now moving forward with MintChip, an adorably named virtual currency system that they are calling "the evolution of physical currency".

Currently the system is in the Research & Development phase and they're actually running a contest to see who can come up with the best potential uses for the technology. Registered participants in the contest will receive a software development kit, two microSD MintChips and two remote MintChip accounts. Originally, the contest organizers intended to accept participant applications through June 27, but they stopped accepting applicants just a week into the challenge because the level of interest was so high! Certainly, a virtual cash system that could replace the crumpled, torn and easily lost paper currencies of the world has a lot of appeal. Not to mention -- the winner of this contest will receive 10 ounces of gold, which holds a total value of $17,000 CAD.


April 10 2012

February 15, November 1 and....Today!

By Kate Musgrove

Any real bargain hunter knows that the best candy prices come right after the big candy holidays. That's why you'll find the team at eating chocolate hearts through March and chocolate bunnies through May! I mean, you didn't really expect that an office full of bargain hunters would pay full price for snacks, did you?

On display below is the start of our 50% off Easter haul. In the background you can see what looks like a palm tree, but you'll have to visit our Facebook page for full details on that one.

Update: candy haul, day two! Nothing except the jumbo bag of Mini Eggs was over 99¢!


April 05 2012

Four-Day Weekend!

By Kate Musgrove

With Easter and Passover both this weekend the team here at is lucky enough to have four days off in a row! Some of us are headed on vacation but I personally am extremely excited about staying home for the duration. I plan to read, watch some movies, cook a few complicated meals and oh yes, sleep in.

We'll be back on Tuesday with our regular lineup of HQ news and stuff we like. For now: if you have a long weekend, what are your plans -- closer to a staycation or closer to a vacation? And exactly how late is too late to sleep in? And can anyone hear the phrase "four day weekend" without thinking of that great moment in The Simpsons?


April 04 2012

Not-So-Free Love (Battling the Cost of Wedding Season)

By Amanda Aikman

It’s spring, and the wedding bells are within earshot – I’ve got three weddings to attend before mid-July. I love wedding season, don’t get me wrong, but it can be a pricey time of year, and not just for the couples shelling out for their nuptials. With these three weddings come three wedding gifts, probably two wedding shower gifts, three new dresses, airfare for three people (thankfully only one of the weddings requires air travel), two hotel stays, and it looks like at least one cash bar. And I suppose my husband and son might expect at least a new tie or a haircut or something as well.

So how do we survive the season of love and still enjoy the finer things in our own lives this spring/summer…like a family vacation, new summer wardrobes, and those pesky expenses like car payments/rent/food/electricity? Well, I guess it’s time to get creative. Instead of writing cheques for gifts we’ll try to do something more personal…and, er, cheap this year.

One of the couples getting hitched have more than a few sweet teeth between them, so we’re heading to a British/nostalgia candy store to load up on kitschy, yummy candies, which we’ll put in a very cool vintage cookie jar we bought at a thrift store, wrap the whole thing in cellophane and tie it with a big pink bow. Total cost - $50. Couple number two are ex co-workers we used to share a lot of spirited games nights with. For them, we picked up a Newlywed Board Game and paired it with a nice bottle of wine and a box of gourmet chocolates. It’s a romantic game night to go!

The third couple has stumped us so far, but luckily that wedding isn’t until July. Any cost-effective solutions would be much appreciated, as we’ve already spent a good chunk on airfare for this one.