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10 Useful Items for Every Seasonal Allergy Sufferers' Home

10 Useful Items for Every Seasonal Allergy Sufferers' Home

By Ambia Staley

If you're anything like some of us here at the RFD office, spring is not your favourite time of the year. If you count yourself among one of many allergy sufferers out there, the thought of spring cleaning, cuddling with your pet cat, and frolicking through blooming gardens may fill you with crippling dread.

Unfortunately, on the worst days of the season it may be impossible to completely erase all your symptoms without resorting to living out your life in a bubble. If that's not a practical solution for you, there's no need to worry as we've complied a handy list of items you can purchase to at least gain sweet pollen-free relief in your own home!

1. Mattress or Pillow Protectors

If you don't already have a protective cover for your mattress or pillows, you may want to consider getting them, especially if you own pets or are allergic to dust-mites. Many people think of protective covers only as a means to protect your mattress and pillow from sweat and stains, but they have the added benefit of blocking out dust-mites and other allergens from entering your mattress. They're a great affordable option that you can continually remove and wash as needed to keep your mattress fresh.

2. Hypoallergenic Mattress

If you've got more money to spend, you may want to consider purchasing a hypoallergenic mattress. There are a number of specially made mattresses currently on the market which are specifically geared for those with allergies. If you can't locate one of these mattresses, or if they are out of your price range, look for any memory foam or latex mattress which like the hypoallergenic variety, also have a dense core that will help block out allergens. If you're looking for a mattress and you have allergies, try to avoid coil, spring, or pillowtop mattresses as these varieties have lots of space within them for the dust-mites to gather.

3. Door Mats

Most homeowners think it's common sense to have a door mat outside their home to reduce the amount of dirt tracked into the house. But, it's important to remember that the very same shoes tracking in that dirt are also tracking in pollen and other outside allergens. To reduce this occurrence, consider doubling up on your doormats! By placing a mat both outside and inside your door, as well as asking guests to remove their shoes when entering, you can limit the allergens to your doorway, making it much more manageable and easier to clean up before it's too late for your sinuses.

4. Shades

If you've got curtains or blinds adorning your windows, you may want to consider ditching them in favour of some shades. Dust and other allergens can easily get trapped in the crevices of these window coverings and can end up making your allergy symptoms worse inside than they are outside. By switching to simple flat shades, you minimize the area dust and pollen can gather and make cleanup much easier. If you're not a fan of shades, you can also opt for curtains made with a lighter material which can easily removed and machine washed on a regular basis.

5. Air Conditioner

If the worst of your allergies stem from pollen, you may want to keep your windows shut this spring and summer and rely on the AC to keep cool. If you've got a good quality air conditioner, it can also work as a dehumidifier which will in turn limit the growth of indoor allergens like dust-mites and mold.

6. Air Filter

If you're allergic to things inside the house just as much as the outside, then an air filter will become your best friend. When looking around, make sure you choose one with a HEPA filter. HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters have a very fine mesh that's made to catch harmful particles like pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and tobacco smoke.

7. Vacuum

A vacuum is a staple in most homes, but if you suffer from allergies, make sure your vacuum is equipped with a HEPA filter. In addition to helping suck up messes on the floor, the inclusion of a HEPA filtration system will help trap dust and allergens, helping you get a little more relief.

8. Plastic Storage Bins

If you want to avoid dust and other allergens collecting on things like your linens, towels, and children's stuffed animals, consider storing them in plastic bins when not in use. Not only will sealing these items up prevent dust from collecting and stirring up your symptoms, but the bins make great organizational tools as well!.

9. Shower Head

If you don't already have one, make sure to invest in a great shower head that will thoroughly rinse you off. Most people take a shower to wash off and relax after a long day, but for allergy sufferers, a good rinse after going outside or dusting the house will help wash away the pollen and dust which has collected on your body and in your hair.

10. Dust Masks

If you've ever been to various parts of East Asia, you'll find that wearing surgical masks during allergy season is a pretty common sight. Unfortunately that trend hasn't yet caught on here in Canada, but these handy masks -- whether the industrial dust masks, or a simple surgical mask -- are great items to keep on hand in your house. One of the most worst things about allergy season is when you need to clean and dust your house. Cleaning up dust prevents allergies, but dusting gives you allergies -- it's a torturous eternal struggle. So stock a few masks on hand, and put one on while cleaning to make the experience a little less harmful to your sinuses.

Do you suffer from seasonal allergies? Are there days that are so bad you wish you could just hibernate until Halloween to avoid the itchy eyes and sneezing? If you have any products you keep at home to help relieve your symptoms, let us know in the comments below!

Google I/O 2016 Roundup: Android N, New Messaging Apps, Android VR and More!

Google I/O 2016 Roundup: Android N, New Messaging Apps, Android VR and More!

By Simon Hung

Google held their annual Google I/O developer conference this week, highlighted by a keynote presentation from CEO Sundar Pichai and other Google executives to showcase some new products they have in the pipeline. In stark contrast to typical Silicon Valley keynote presentations, this one was held outdoors at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in California, kicked off by a weird harp duet performance.

The full keynote is available to view on YouTube.

You can view the full two-hour keynote via YouTube, but if you're interested in a "too long; didn't watch" version, we have you covered and put together this roundup with some of the highlights, listed in the order in which they were presented during the keynote.

Google Assistant

Who needs friends when you can talk to your phone?

The race to create Skynet has begun, as Google has improved Google Now to compete with the likes of Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. Now called Google Assistant, this virtual assistant is similar to its competitors and allows you to have natural “conversations” with your Google device to create what Pichai calls a “personal Google.” Google Assistant is also aware of context, allowing you to ask ambiguous questions like “Who was Lisa Marie Presley's third husband?” and it will utilize various resources to help answer your question.

Google Home

Creepy or cool? Google Home is a small device that's always on and always listening.

Google’s entrant into the emerging home automation market, Google Home is a small speaker/microphone device that you place in the hub of your home, allowing you to control media or connected devices like lights, schedule tasks and even get answers to obscure questions from Google by speaking to it. No launch date or price has been revealed, but you can click here to sign up for details and updates.

Allo

Allo from the other side.

Much to the delight of Francophone Adele fans, Allo is the name of Google’s new messaging app, meant to take on the likes of Facebook Messenger and even Google’s own Hangouts, although it isn’t meant to be its replacement for now. Described as a smart messenger, Allo learns your messaging habits, allowing the app to automatically suggest responses based on context. Google is baked into Allo and can integrate with external apps, enabling you to do things like display search results or make reservations without leaving the app. A feature called WhisperShout allows you to change the size of your messages, so YOU DON’T HAVE TO USE CAPITAL LETTERS to raise your voice. Allo will be available for free on Android and iOS this summer.

Duo

Duo is Google's new video-calling app.

Duo is a companion to Allo and Google’s new dedicated video-calling app, similar to FaceTime on iOS. The app itself lack bells and whistles, but this was intentional, as Google focused on optimization and a fluid user experience. A feature called Knock Knock presents a live feed of your selfie camera as a video Caller ID, which is neat, but also has the potential to make for some awkward calls depending on how some people use it. Duo will also be free on Android and iOS this summer.

Android N

The most anticipated portion of the keynote, Google released new details about the next iteration of Android, dubbed Android N…for now. Google is taking suggestions to name Android N, but it isn’t considered a vote, as they've stated that they have final say for the name, so don’t expect it to be called Android Namey McNameface. Traditionally, Google has named Android iterations after desserts and you can click here to submit your suggestion.

Google is taking user suggestions to name Android N.

In addition to back-end improvements, Android N will include new performance, productivity and security optimizations. Some of the noteworthy enhancements include:

  • Emojis -- Android N will support new Unicode 9.0 emojis, with 72 new emoji icons and the ability to choose a gender for emojis that display an occupation
  • Multi-tasking -- Android N will automatically clear unused apps in your multi-tasking drawer (your seven most recent apps will remain active) and a new “Clear All” button will finally allow you to kill all apps at once. A feature called Quick Switch also allows you to jump to your last-used app by double-tapping the recent button
  • Multi-window -- a new split-screen mode is available natively on Android N and a new picture-in-picture mode will be available on Android TV devices
  • Notifications -- you can now reply to messages directly from notifications and quickly change settings for certain notifications with a long-press
  • Seamless updates -- updates to Android N will apply seamlessly so you can use your phone normally and won’t have to see that annoying “Android is upgrading…” screen whenever Android updates
  • Security -- file-level encryption, end-to-end protection with certain apps and automatic removal of malicious apps will bolster user privacy and protection on Android N

Android N will be available this summer and Nexus devices will be the first to get access. Unfortunately, those with other devices may have to wait -- similar to older versions of Android, the new OS has to be approved by your phone manufacturer and carrier before the update is available, a process that many Android users know can take upwards of years.

Daydream (Android VR)

Daydream will let you play games, watch movies and even view news in VR.

Google is fully committing to VR with Daydream, a mobile VR platform which includes a reference-design for a VR headset, plus plans for “Daydream-ready” devices -- a specification for phone manufacturers to develop high-end hardware that will be compatible with Daydream, with partners including ASUS, HTC, LG, Samsung and others. Daydream could be a significant step for VR and become a more desirable option for consumers, as you won’t have to invest a large sum of money into a singular device like the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift. In addition to games, Google also announced partnerships with Netflix, IMAX, MLB, The New York Times and more to create unique VR experiences.

Android Wear 2.0

Google hopes software improvements can help increase the popularity of Android Wear devices.

The wearables market has yet to explode like some analysts predicted, but Google hopes to change that with Android Wear 2.0, the largest update to their Android Wear software to date. A number of usability features have been added, including the ability to display information from any app on a watch face, smart text replies, handwriting recognition and the ability to run standalone apps without a phone, which is a godsend for those who exercise with an Android Wear device. Android Wear 2.0 will be available to all users this fall.

Android Instant Apps

Android Instant Apps lets you run apps natively even if the app isn't installed.

In an effort to improve the mobile browsing experience, this new Android feature will automatically run apps that you do not have installed to display content. For example, if you tap a link to a product on Amazon but don’t have the Amazon app installed, rather than direct you to the web page or Play Store, Android will now automatically take the necessary components from the app and display the content natively as if you were in the app. The process is invisible to the user and doesn’t download anything directly to your phone. This feature can also run on previous Android versions like Jellybean and Kit Kat.

Other developer-focused features like Firebase and Google Cloud TPU were also unveiled, but we've left those out and focused mainly on consumer-oriented news from the keynote. To learn more, you can click here to visit the Official Google Blog and read more details about Google I/O.

Does anything from the keynote tickle your fancy? Maybe some of the new products have rustled your jimmies? Share your thoughts in the comments and let us know!

Visiting the IKEA Pop-Up Experience in Downtown Toronto

Visiting the IKEA Pop-Up Experience in Downtown Toronto

By Simon Hung

Last week, we wrote about the IKEA Pop-Up Experience that was coming to Downtown Toronto from May 13 to 26. The idea of a food-related IKEA store had our curiosity, but the news of free meatball samples got our attention. Since the RedFlagDeals global headquarters is only a five-minute walk away, we decided to pay the store a visit to see what the pop-up space had to offer.

Upon entry, you’re greeted by a concierge who instructs you to take one of dozens of wooden spoons that adorn a wall. The spoon acts an ingenious virtual shopping cart, as they're embedded with RFID chips that you use to shop for items scattered throughout the space. There are four shelves in the store with about 50 total kitchen-related products available for sale.

In case you manage to get lost.

The space consists of six themed areas, each dedicated to a food-related area in a typical home -- the dessert room, the hosting room, pantry, the living room, patio and kitchen. In typical IKEA fashion, there are arrows along the floor to guide you, but the space is completely open and not designed as a maze like in full-sized IKEA locations.

The Dessert Room

A large tub of free chocolate awaits you in the dessert room.

This area is the first room that you encounter and contains a tea-party setup for kids and a tub of free chocolate samples. You’re instructed to try a few, but that didn’t stop many patrons from devouring handfuls of chocolate. The samples were quite delicious and the price was right, so we weren’t going to tattle. Here, you’re able to purchase 20 baking supplies including baking trays, measuring cups, full-size chocolate bars, muffin mixes and a free dessert recipe book.

Items available for purchase in the dessert room.

The Hosting Room

Next, you’ll make your way to the hosting room, which also serves as the checkout area of the store (more on that later). Here, there are a couple of tables with various tabletop set-ups featured on the tables themselves and on the adjoining wall. In this section, you’re able to purchase 11 assorted tableware products and utensils.

Items available for purchase in the hosting room.

The Pantry

Connected to the hosting room is a tiny alcove for the pantry. It’s a small space that accommodates no more than two people and there’s not much in here other than a couple of small carts and storage solutions. There are 11 more items in this area available for purchase, including napkins, food storage accessories and a free guide with planting tips and tricks.

Items available for purchase in the pantry.

The Living Room

Free seed packets are available in the living room.

The living room space is devoted to helping you discover your urban green thumb, with an interactive greenery display featured in the centre of the room and bench seating along the windows. One wall in the room features a seed display, where you can get small packets of free seeds to start your personal herb garden. You can get parsley, dill, basil and sage seeds, although only parsley and sage were available when we visited.

The Patio

You'll find outdoor inspiration in the patio area.

The only area in the pop-up experience without freebies or items for purchase, the patio area is bright and vibrant with a mock patio set-up to provide you with patio design inspirations for the next time you host an outdoor get-together.

The Kitchen

Meatball samples are served in the kitchen.

The kitchen is the most exciting room in the pop-up experience, as this area features a fully-furnished IKEA kitchen, including the best part of the space -- IKEA meatball samples. You have your choice of two meat, two veggie or one of each, and it was by far the most popular area in the pop-up experience. You’ll also find a virtual-reality station where you can view an IKEA kitchen using VR goggles. There are also 12 more items you can purchase, including a cutting board, frozen meatballs and a free IKEA recipe book.

Items available for purchase in the kitchen.

The Buying Experience

A wooden spoon embedded with an RFID chip acts as your shopping cart.

A throwback to full-service stores of the past, the spoon you took at the beginning of your journey acts as your shopping cart. To purchase an item, you can tap on the blue icon next to your desired product and a blue light will flash to indicate that it’s been added to your cart. Tapping on any of the free recipe books will do the same.

The checkout area in the IKEA Pop-Up Experience

Once you’re ready to pay, you can head over to the checkout area and tap your spoon onto a small placard to initiate checkout. From there, a cashier will help verify your order and a clerk will retrieve your items from their backroom. If you tapped on any of the free recipe books, you’ll have to enter your e-mail address as they’re delivered digitally as a PDF. Once you pay via credit or debit (no cash is accepted), you’re done! You can also grab a free 2016 kitchen or wardrobe brochure on your way out, along with a few more handfuls of chocolate samples.

While you can't purchase any furniture and product selection is fairly limited, it was interesting to see what IKEA had to offer in the pop-up space and is definitely worth a visit if you happen to be in the neighbourhood and craving some free chocolate or meatballs.

If you want to see the IKEA Pop-up Experience first-hand, the store is located at 363 King Street West until Thursday, May 26, from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM on weekdays and 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM on weekends (the store will be closed on Victoria Day). On the other hand, if you'd rather visit a full-sized IKEA store, be sure to read our guide with tips on how to shop at IKEA like a pro!

Sweet Spots to Explore in Steveston, BC!

Sweet Spots to Explore in Steveston, BC!

By Michelle Hopkins

For decades Steveston was best known as a quaint little fishing village where people came from all over the Lower Mainland to buy fresh fish. Now it's known for playing Storybrooke, Maine in ABC's Once Upon a Time and it's absolutely bursting with coffee shops, eateries, and great spots for those who need to satisfy their sweet tooth. As of spring 2016, it is home to more than a dozen bakeries and confectioneries as well as a plethora of coffee shops that also cater to sweet cravings.

If you're looking to tour Steveston's sweet spots you can start your journey with none other than The Sweet Spot. You will be tempted to forget all about your plans to diet when you bite into their famous chewy coconut macaroons, flourless chocolate cookies or any flavour of their house made ice creams.

For the passionate chocoholic, Sinfully The Best Chocolates, Fine Foods & Gifts is nirvana. The aromas alone will tantalize you. All of their artisan chocolate are handcrafted on the premises. Indulge if you will in one of their Seven Heavenly Sins, with monikers such as Golden Greed, A Touch of Gluttony or Tropical Sloth.

Outpost Mini Donuts is a gourmet mini donut haven. Using locally sourced ingredients, the classics are all here, including the cinnamon sugar, chocolate icing with sprinkles and the maple icing. Then there are the seasonal ones such as the lemon, blueberry, Boston cream, mocha and coconut … try to eat just one.

Bell’s Bake Shop transports you to the fifties diner-style. However, there’s nothing old fashioned about these cupcakes. Every day, owner Jennifer Bell and her team bake small batches in order to serve the freshest cupcakes. Although renowned for her eight cream-filled cupcakes, like Red Velvet, Cookies and Cream, Devil’s Food and Confetti, she also features layer cakes, wedding and specialty order cakes.

One of the first to satisfy sugary cravings in Steveston is Timothy’s Frozen Yogurt. Located on the Fishermen’s Wharf, it is named for local resident Tim Culling. His frozen fruit yogurts garner many accolades as do his hand made, hand rolled waffle cones. You can actually follow the wafting aroma of the baked cones right to his busy spot. If you prefer ice cream, he’s got it. The double chocolate fudge and hedgehog flavours are decadent. P.S. In the summer months, the line ups can be long but locals and visitors alike believe his frozen treats are well worth the wait.

This is just a snapshot of the many Steveston merchants who cater to your sweet tooth.

All Loblaws Stores Closed (Including Shoppers Drug Mart, RCSS and No Frills) Due to Tech Glitch

All Loblaws Stores Closed (Including Shoppers Drug Mart, RCSS and No Frills) Due to Tech Glitch

By Kate Musgrove

Due to what they're describing as "tech difficulties," all Loblaws stores are currently closed. This includes Shoppers Drug Mart, No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore and Zehrs. According to the official Loblaws Twitter page they're hard at work on a fix.

So far there's no estimated time of restoration, although we're certainly hoping it's sooner rather than later. Do you have a Loblaws store in your neighbourhood? If this problem reoccurs would you think about switching supermarkets? Let us know in the comments!

Rogers to Shutter Mobilicity and Transfer Existing Customers to Chatr

Rogers to Shutter Mobilicity and Transfer Existing Customers to Chatr

By Simon Hung

It’s been the elephant in the room since Rogers acquired Mobilicity in June 2015. For many Mobilicity customers, it wasn’t a matter of if, but when the company would be dissolved and it appears as though that time has come, as Rogers has shuttered the Mobilicity brand and will move all current customers to their budget subsidiary, Chatr.

Rogers will cease new Mobilicity activations beginning August 15 and will begin the process of transferring more than 154,000 current customers to Chatr. In a statement given to MobileSyrup, customers will have the option to shift to a “comparable Chatr plan,” but current monthly wireless plans will not be grandfathered to Chatr.

Effective this summer, Rogers will cut ties with Mobilicity and transfer current customers to Chatr.

Mobilicity was an RFD favourite due to the affordable, unlimited lifetime plans they offered once upon a time, but the company struggled financially until their acquisition by Rogers for $465 million in June 2015. Only 180 Mobilicity outlets remain across Canada and Rogers has stated that they will keep more than half of them open and re-brand them as Chatr outlets.

Many RFD forum members have expressed uncertainty with these lifetime plans, as Rogers has not released specific details about how these plans would be transferred to Chatr, if at all. Since Mobilicity did not use a contract model, some have speculated that owners of lifetime plans would be out of luck after the transfer and would have to settle for whatever Rogers considers a “comparable plan” on Chatr.

Mobilicity has set up an FAQ page regarding the move and will release more details at a later time. Until then, customers can use their phones and pay their bills normally.

This is the second time in the past month that a major Canadian telecom has changed the wireless market, as this news follows Bell’s acquisition of MTS in Manitoba.

While you wait for the Chatr transition, be sure to check out our Ongoing Deals forum, where you can find threads dedicated to helping you find the wireless deals from different providers.

If you’re a Mobilicity customer, how do you feel about the news? Express your dissatisfaction, jubilation or indifference by dropping a message in the comments!

Apple Pay Expands to Support More Canadian Banks

Apple Pay Expands to Support More Canadian Banks

By Simon Hung

More owners of Apple Pay-supported devices will be able to take advantage of the service, as Apple has finally struck a deal with many of Canada’s largest banks to support their cards on Apple’s payment platform to make mobile payments up to $100.00 at participating merchants.

While Apple Pay has been available in Canada since November 2015, the service was exclusive to American Express cardholders, since Apple could not reach an agreement with financial institutions before the initial launch.

The following cards and institutions now support Apple Pay, as per Apple's support page:

  • American Express
  • ATB (MasterCard credit cards)
  • Canadian Tire (MasterCard credit cards)
  • CIBC (MasterCard and Visa credit cards, Interac debit cards)
  • RBC (MasterCard and Visa credit cards, Interac debit cards)

Integration with BMO, Scotiabank and TD Canada Trust is planned for the coming months, likely to be completed by June.

One of the headlining features when the iPhone 6 was unveiled in 2014, Apple Pay is Apple’s digital wallet platform, aimed at providing a secure payment method with select Apple devices at merchants who support contactless (NFC) payments. MasterCard Canada estimates that 92% of Canada’s top retailers are currently equipped to handle payments without a physical credit card.

More Canadians will be able to make mobile payments using Apple Pay.

Our resident forums guru Tom has been using Apple Pay since its Canadian launch in November 2015. In fact, he signed up for an American Express card just so he could use the service and he couldn’t be happier with the expansion:

“I use it [Apple Pay] almost every day, mainly due to the fact that Tim Hortons and McDonald’s accept it...but I’ve also used it at Chapters, Staples, Indigo and the Apple Store. I’ve already added my RBC debit card and will add every other card I have as it becomes supported.”

The main benefit with Apple Pay is security, as Apple partnered with Visa, MasterCard and other financial services to develop a token system when paying with Apple Pay. Rather than transferring credit card information directly, Apple Pay uses an anonymous digital token to authenticate payments and verifies the user with their fingerprint via Touch ID. The entire process is quick and does not require an exchange with a physical card. There are a few of us in the office who want to try it, as many of us hope that this brings us a step closer to eliminating credit cards from our wallets and purses. Plus, the idea of paying for items with a smartphone does appeal to our affection for technology. As Tom puts it:

“My phone is the one thing I always have on me…getting that payment machine to beep using my phone is oddly satisfying!”

On the other hand, while Apple Pay is convenient, it’s only supported with select iOS devices. If you use other mobile operating systems, you’ll have to stick with cash, plastic or use alternative digital wallets. Major competitors like Android Pay and Samsung Pay aren't yet available in Canada and time will tell if Apple Pay's popularity will lead to widespread adoption of digital wallets -- according to a study by GfK Canada, mobile payments accounted for a mere 3% of all payments in 2015. Plus, those who bank with smaller institutions or credit unions may have to wait a while before they are supported by Apple Pay. In fact, many have reported that PC Financial cards are not currently supported, even though most of their services are provided by CIBC.

Apple Watch owners finally have a reasonable use for their expensive gadget.

Apple Pay is currently compatible with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, 6S and 6S Plus, iPhone SE, iPad Air 2, Mini 3, iPad Pro (iPads only support in-app payments) and for those who like to show off, the Apple Watch -- click here to learn more about how to set up your device with Apple Pay.

Will you be trying Apple Pay? Do you have a fiery hatred for all things Apple? Maybe you think mobile payments will be as successful as Rob Schneider's film career? Share your thoughts in the comments and let us know if you'll ever abandon cash or plastic in favour of digital wallets!

IKEA Pop-up Store Coming to Downtown Toronto

IKEA Pop-up Store Coming to Downtown Toronto

By Simon Hung

IKEA is one of the most popular stores on RedFlagDeals and one of the major gripes for those who live in Downtown Toronto is the inaccessibility of some locations. Sure, there are three IKEA locations in the Greater Toronto Area, but they each take at least an hour of planning and travel, making it a hassle for many city folk and condo dwellers living downtown.

Luckily, that’s all about to change...sort of. Starting Friday, May 13, IKEA will be opening a pop-up store in the heart of Downtown Toronto at 363 King Street West, but don’t expect to purchase a STOCKHOLM sofa or BRIMNES bed frame, because this store will focus solely on food.

IKEA previously occupied the space in 2011, where they showcased home décor and artist-inspired products. Since then, the store is frequently leased to companies such as Coca-Cola to showcase unique products and experiences.

IKEA previously occupied the King Street retail space in 2011.

Described by IKEA as “a space designed to take consumers through a culinary journey,” the store is part of their new food-focused #StartFooding global campaign and will feature over 50 IKEA products for sale.

Other neat features include a fully-furnished IKEA kitchen, two Google Cardboard viewers where consumers can experience four different IKEA kitchens in virtual reality and most importantly -- meatball carts with meat and veggie ball samples. Food sampling is available every day from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM, while culinary students from George Brown College will perform chef demos from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM on Saturdays.

The store will be open from Friday, May 13 to Thursday, May 26, from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM on weekdays and 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM on weekends (the store will be closed on Victoria Day). You can learn more about the store here and view IKEA's official press release here.

Do you plan on visiting this unique IKEA store? Be sure to let us know in the comments and check back later to find updates about the space and what it has to offer!

Microsoft to End Free Windows 10 Upgrades on July 29; Will Cost $119.00 USD Thereafter

Microsoft to End Free Windows 10 Upgrades on July 29; Will Cost $119.00 USD Thereafter

By Simon Hung

Windows 7 and 8 make up more than 50% of the Windows market share and many users have had the pleasure of being harassed to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, as Microsoft has offered existing Windows 7 and 8 users a free upgrade to Windows 10 since July of last year -- you can read details about the free upgrade here.

The bothersome notification that greets Windows 7 users upon start-up.

In a blog post published May 5, Microsoft has kindly reminded users that the free offer will be coming to an end on July 29 and will subsequently charge $119.00 for a full version of Windows 10 Home thereafter. It isn’t specified what currency the pricing is, but we suspect that it’s USD, since $119.00 USD is the current US price for a Windows 10 license, which means the Canadian price will likely cost $149.00 CAD. Those who have no plans to upgrade will also be delighted to learn that Microsoft will stop nagging you to upgrade once the date elapses.

In the same post, Microsoft boasts about the growing market share of Windows 10, as the operating system is now running on 300 million devices worldwide and has the highest customer satisfaction rating of any version of Windows. Despite its growth, Windows 10 only represents about 13% of the overall desktop market share, undoubtedly aided by the free upgrade offer. The upgrade period also coincidentally ends before the release of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, which will add a slew of new features and fix many bugs.

While the end of the free upgrade period was announced last year, this friendly nudge to upgrade also seems to be an attempt to increase the Windows 10 market share, as many Windows 7/8 users have been putting off upgrading to the new operating system because change is always awful.

Microsoft has gone all-in with Windows 10, implementing it in their complete line of products, including Surface tablets, Lumia smartphones and the Xbox One. However, the operating system has also received some criticism for automatically sending user data to Microsoft -- a setting that is turned on by default. Nonetheless, they’ve been heavily campaigning for users to upgrade, including creating a video starring Microsoft executive Bryan Roper to outline ten reasons why you should upgrade to Windows 10.

Bryan Roper and Bryan Roper's hat outline the reasons you should upgrade to Windows 10.

If you’re currently running Windows 7 or 8, do you plan on upgrading? Let us know by voting in the poll below and sharing your thoughts in the comments!

Bell Acquires Manitoba Telecom MTS for $3.9 Billion

Bell Acquires Manitoba Telecom MTS for $3.9 Billion

By Simon Hung

It’s been a bittersweet week for the residents of Manitoba, as only days after the Winnipeg Jets won the #2 position NHL Draft, it was announced on May 2 that BCE Inc., parent company of Bell Canada, would acquire Manitoba-based telecom MTS in an all-stock deal worth $3.9 billion. In a subsequent transaction, BCE also sold one-third of MTS’ post-paid subscribers and retail outlets to TELUS in order to keep competition at a healthy level.

At the time of the announcement, MTS had roughly 50% of the wireless market share in Manitoba with nearly 500,000 customers. In fact, Manitoba was one of the few provinces in Canada (along with Saskatchewan and Quebec) who had a fourth major telecom provider in competition with the ‘Big Three’ of Rogers, Bell and TELUS. As a result, Manitoba had one of the lowest wireless rates in Canada, as the competition from a fourth provider drove down prices.

The news has some MTS customers worried about their telecom rates, as many have speculated that the loss of a fourth competitor will cause prices to increase. Back in January, we wrote about the unpopular decision by the Big Three to raise prices in response to a weak Canadian dollar and it looks like Manitoba may also feel the repercussions if prices do indeed increase.

Jay Forbes, President and CEO of MTS, was optimistic of the acquisition, saying "We've had a very competitive marketplace here in Manitoba and I don't see that changing…what I do see changing is that level of technology that our customers are going to have access to…they will enjoy access to better technologies, better internet access, better data."

That doesn’t have many convinced, as Michael Geist, an Internet and e-Commerce Law Professor at the University of Ottawa, wrote in his blog, “The deal therefore represents a huge blow to the government’s hopes for a more competitive wireless marketplace. Instead, one of Canada’s lower cost provinces is likely to see increased prices and the market continues to consolidate around the big three providers.”

As a result of this deal, Bell is expected to be the largest telecom provider in Manitoba, as their market share in the province will grow from 10% to about 40%, while Rogers and TELUS will both will hold around 30%.

The deal is still pending approval from the CRTC, Competition Bureau and Industry Canada, and is expected to close in late 2016 or early 2017. Until then, Manitobans can forget about this news by remembering that the Winnipeg Jets will (probably) enjoy the services of Patrik Laine for the next decade.

Manitoba's feeling of winning the #2 pick in the NHL Draft and Bell's acquisition of MTS.

If you're from Manitoba and an MTS customer, be sure to share your thoughts on the acquisition in the comments! You can also browse our Ongoing Deals forum, where you'll find a number of threads dedicated to finding the best Internet, television and wireless deals from the major providers.

Great Staycation Idea: Exploring Storybrooke in Steveston, BC!

By Michelle Hopkins

Steveston is renowned across Richmond and beyond for being a quaint fishing village filled with unique boutique shops and restaurants -- but Hollywood has also discovered this popular riverfront village! If you are a fan of ABC’s hit television series, Once Upon a Time, you might just recognize The Steveston Cannery Café. Once an old bunk house for cannery workers in the late 19th century, it now stars as Granny’s Diner in the picturesque mythical town of Storybrooke, Maine.

If you are in town at the right time, you might be lucky enough to spot some of the show’s big stars like Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White), Jennifer Morrison (Emma Swan), Lana Parrilla (Evil Queen) and Robert Carlyle (Rumpelstiltskin).

You can also take home a little slice of Storybrooke. Merchants and coffee shops have embraced the fairy-tale show, one which transforms Steveston into an American town several weeks each year. Your first stop is the Visitor Centre at 3811 Moncton Street. This is where you will find the largest selection of Disney-themed Once Upon a Time souvenirs – everything from t-shirts, sweat shirts, fleece blankets, hats, mugs, magnets, posters and more.

"Since the show started filming in 2011, the increase in local visitors and visitors from all over the world, who come specifically because of the show, has gone up by 60 per cent,” says Lori Getz, visitor services manager, Tourism Richmond. “We sell all sorts of Disney licensed merchandise and it sells extremely well."

It doesn’t stop there. Several other merchants have jump onto the show’s craze. A couple of storefronts down from the Visitor Centre is the Candy Dish. Besides its dizzying array of sweet treats, this old fashioned candy store sells chocolate Evil Queen and Wicked Witch apples, Rumpelstiltskin castle, Emma’s dark swan, Prince Charming sword and homemade Snow White fudge and more.

Then, head over to the Village Books & Coffee House and sip on a Dark Swan latte. Or go to the Steveston Coffee Co. for an Emma or Henry (named for Henry Mills, who is played by Jared Gilmore) hot chocolate.

The store It’s Posh doubles as Mr. Gold Pawnbroker and Antiquities Dealer. In this gift shop you’ll discover an assortment of items that celebrate the show -- from replica jewelry such as Mister Gold’s dagger necklace, Emma Swan’s necklace, Regina’s Tree of Life (Evil Queen), Storybrooke pocket watch, candles, postcards, wooden signs and more.

So next time you plan a visit to Steveston, pick up your Once Upon a Time free self-guided walking tour map and bring home mementos from one of the most popular fairy tale shows on television.

Netflix Titles Available in Canada But Not in the United States

Netflix Titles Available in Canada But Not in the United States

By Simon Hung

It’s easy to feel a little jealousy towards our neighbours in the United States. After all, they have NHL playoff teams, Google Fiber Internet, unlimited McDonald's fries and perhaps their most enviable asset -- a larger Netflix library.

Some Canadians aren't happy that Netflix is cracking down on the use of VPN services to circumvent geo-blocked content. Plus, the news that they’ll be increasing monthly rates on grandfathered plans has many subscribers in a tizzy. In fact, over 40% of users who voted in our poll said that they’ll be cancelling their Netflix subscription once the rate increases.

Before you send a tube of glitter to their headquarters to show your frustration, take solace in the fact that the Canadian Netflix does have content that’s unavailable to Americans. It's a small victory, but we've listed a few titles below to help make you feel a little better about our humble Netflix catalogue.

24

24 -- otherwise known as the Jack Bauer Power Hour.

Canadian Netflix users have the pleasure of hearing Kiefer Sutherland utter “damn it” hundreds of times, as the popular series 24 is not available to Americans. The first eight seasons are available to stream, including the seventh season prequel 24: Redemption. However, Netflix does not have 24: Live Another Day, the mini-series that aired in 2014. This shouldn’t bother too many fans, as the series was must-watch TV during its first five seasons, while the later seasons were drawn-out and less engaging.

Batman Begins and The Dark Knight

Infinitely better than Batman & Robin.

Canadians can stream the first two films from Christopher Nolan’s iconic Batman trilogy, which means only you can enjoy Christian Bale’s hoarse Batman voice, Heath Ledger’s legendary Joker portrayal and Katie Holmes’ magical transformation into Maggie Gyllenhaal. Nolan’s Batman trilogy set a new standard for Hollywood superhero films and these two are must-watches for any Batman fan. Nolan’s 2014 science-fiction film Interstellar is also only available in Canada.

Various Leonardo DiCaprio Movies

Unconfirmed footage of Leo's reaction to (finally) winning an Oscar.

Now that Leonardo DiCaprio has finally won his Academy Award, be sure to watch a few of his films to show your support, as he's starred in some incredible movies before his big win. Plus, almost all of his movies on Netflix are not available to stream in the United States, including The Beach, Catch Me If You Can, The Departed, Titanic and The Wolf of Wall Street.

Community

Community is streets ahead. If you don't know what that means, you're streets behind.

Remove your evil goatee, grab a "baggle" and enroll in a Spanish class at Greendale Community College, because this isn't the darkest timeline since the first four seasons of Community are only available to Canadians. One of the easiest shows to binge watch, the show aired for five seasons before a sixth season was aired exclusively on Yahoo Screen. Despite losing momentum after the earlier seasons, the show has a cult following, hoping they'll make good on their promise of six seasons and a movie.

Ant-Man

What is this, an billboard for ants?!

This is a big small one, as Ant-Man, along with some other movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Iron Man) are available to stream in Canada but not in the US. In fact, Ant-Man is the one of two titles on our list (the other being Titanic) that is currently 100% exclusive to Netflix in Canada.

Happy Gilmore

Adam Sandler's latest movies make us angry, but Happy Gilmore is a classic.

Before Adam Sandler made questionable career choices with Blended, Jack and Jill and That’s My Boy (all of which are also available only in Canada), there was Happy Gilmore, a movie about a mediocre hockey player with a wicked slap shot who goes on to become a golf phenom, inspiring dozens of amateur golfers to seek revenge on their personal incarnations of Shooter McGavin.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Fans of Brooklyn Nine-Nine can stream all three seasons while waiting for the fourth.

An RFD office favourite, this is another easy-to-binge series that is not available to stream in the US. The turnaround time between television broadcast and Netflix availability is also very impressive (Season 3 was on Netflix the day after the season finale aired on television), meaning you won’t have to wait an agonizingly long time to enjoy this series.

Dredd

Do we want to see a sequel to Dredd?

A criminally underrated movie based on the comic book character, this film adaptation was well-received by critics but under-performed at the box office. Fans have been clamoring for a sequel and while a film sequel is unlikely, rumours of a television series have gained steam recently, including a pitch from star Karl Urban. As a Canadian, you can see what the hype is about by streaming the film on Netflix.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop

Slide into this silly comedy the next time you're browsing Netflix.

Before you discredit this entire list because of the inclusion of this movie, note that Paul Blart: Mall Cop currently holds a higher Rotten Tomatoes rating than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (33% vs. 28%). Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a silly comedy with a ridiculous plot and clueless logic, look no further than our favourite Segway-riding goofball.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

We did a Carlton dance when we discovered Fresh Prince wasn't available in the US.

Take a trip to Bel-Air and spend some time chillin' out, maxin' and relaxin', because Canadians can relive this classic 90s sitcom starring Will Smith while Americans are stuck in West Philadelphia, unable to stream the series. All six seasons are available in Canada, which is something that’s worth dancing to.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

"Matt the Radar Technician" recommends streaming Star Wars: The Force Awakens later this year.

The latest Star Wars film isn't technically available to stream on Netflix yet, as it's due to be available about eight month after its theatrical release (around July). But, we know that once it is available, Canadian Netflix will have exclusive streaming rights, so you can re-watch the movie as many times as you like to prepare for the upcoming Rogue One.

Those are some of our favourite Canadian-only Netflix titles, but there are even more great titles that we didn't mention -- Flubber, The Place Beyond the Pines, Gone Girl, The LEGO Movie and Suits are just a few more that Americans can't access. So while the United States may have playoff hockey, affordable fibre optic Internet and a lifetime supply of fries, Canadians do have one thing that beats all of those perks -- a political leader who isn't Donald Trump. Checkmate, Americans.

Note: we used Flixsearch.io and Netflixable.com to search and compare title availability across Netflix regions. Netflix rotates availability on a regular basis, so exclusivity may change depending on when you read our article.

Aeropostale Files for Bankruptcy Protection; Closes All Stores in Canada and 113 in the US

Aeropostale Files for Bankruptcy Protection; Closes All Stores in Canada and 113 in the US

By Kate Musgrove

Aeropostale -- a casual apparel retailer that's particularly popular with teens -- has filed for bankruptcy protection in the US and announced plans to close all of its Canadian stores as well as 113 stores in the US. Store closing sales will start on May 9 in Canada and on May 7 in the US.

Overall, this isn't a huge surprise -- the financial health of Aeropostale has been poor for several years. They lost money for each of the last 13 quarters, and in April, the stock was delisted from the NYSE after dropping to $0.27 US a share, a drop of more than 95% from its value two years ago.

Although they are pulling out of Canada completely, their current plans are to close only 113 of their 739 US stores and ideally move out of bankruptcy protection within six months.

Did you shop at Aeropostale? Will you miss them? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Amazon Quietly Expands Amazon Logistics Delivery Service to Canada

Amazon Quietly Expands Amazon Logistics Delivery Service to Canada

By Simon Hung

We recently wrote about our woes with delivery couriers (which you can read here) and it looks like Amazon is throwing their hat in the delivery ring, as they’ve recently began shipping some orders in Canada using their own delivery service, Amazon Logistics.

Amazon has been testing their delivery service in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York since 2014, contracting their own personnel to deliver Amazon packages instead of using a third-party courier like UPS or FedEx. The company has invested heavily in the service, including purchasing thousands of delivery assets like trucks and leasing 20 Boeing 747 freighter jets in order to expand this venture beyond the United States.

The company has stated that their goal isn’t to compete with other couriers, but to offer a faster delivery option for their customers. The move has worried some financial analysts, as they’ve questioned Amazon’s intentions and fear that this move will increase the struggles of major delivery couriers.

You may see more Amazon-branded vehicles on the street delivering your packages.

On the other hand, the move does make sense for Amazon, as having their own courier service will help alleviate their costs of outsourcing shipping, especially with growing popularity of Amazon Prime, which offers free two-day shipping on all orders for subscribers at the price of $79.00 per year.

This move will also help Amazon customers, as it eliminates steps in the logistical process when ordering from Amazon. Instead of having to wait for a courier like UPS to pick up packages from an Amazon warehouse and sort it in their facility, Amazon can sort and expedite packages directly from their own warehouse, bypassing steps that can typically take a couple of days.

Delivery time for our test order via free super saver shipping was an impressive 12 hours.

We tested this new service by placing an order with Amazon.ca on Tuesday, April 26. The account we used was not subscribed to Amazon Prime and we opted to use free super saver shipping. Although a day passed before we received a shipping notification (Wednesday, April 27 at 5:30 PM), the package itself was delivered the next morning at 6:00 AM. The 12-hour delivery time was impressive, especially when compared to previous orders shipped with free super saver shipping via Canada Post. However, our shipping address was located relatively close to a major Amazon warehouse, so your mileage may vary.

Amazon won’t abandon third-party couriers, as they’ll continue to use Canada Post, UPS, FedEx and others to deliver most orders. We aren’t sure if there’s a specific method to have an order delivered with Amazon Logistics, but we speculate that it’s determined by a combination of order size, product availability and address.

The service is in its infancy in Canada, but we can’t help but wonder if they’ll make this service an Amazon Prime exclusive in the future if it does prove to be better than third-parties couriers in an effort to gain more permanent Prime subscribers. Plus, this venture may also be a precursor to Amazon’s crazy yet brilliant plan of delivering packages with drones.

In the meantime, you can click here to learn more about Amazon Logistics or look for the courier abbreviation AMZCA in your Amazon shipping notices to identify if your order is being shipped by Amazon Logistics.

Have you had an Amazon order shipped by Amazon Logistics? How do you think this new venture will affect the other major delivery couriers? Tell us about your experience and share your thoughts in the comments!

May 2016 Video Game Release Dates

May 2016 Video Game Release Dates

By Ambia Staley

May is almost upon us, and that means a brand new month of video games to look forward to! While the release list for May is quite a bit shorter than those in March and April, there are still a few highly anticipated titles being released this month, including Ray Gigant for the PS Vita, Uncharted 4 for the PlayStation 4, and Disney Art Academy for the Nintendo 3DS.

Take a look below to see the full list of May 2016 video game releases:

  • Battleborn (PS4/Xbox One/PC) - May 3
  • Ray Gigant (PS Vita) - May 3
  • Shadow Complex Remastered (PS4/ PC) - May 3
  • Superhot (Xbox One) - May 3
  • The Park (PS4/Xbox One) - May 3
  • Coffin Dodgers (PS4) - May 3
  • Fragments of Him (PS4) - May 3
  • Table Top Racing: World Tour (PS4) - May 3
  • Tropico 5 (PS4) - May 3
  • Kathy Rain (PC/Mac) - May 5
  • Coffin Dodgers (Xbox One) - May 6
  • Ecotone (PC) - May 6
  • Stellaris (PC/Mac/ Linux) - May 9
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief's End - May 10
  • Goliath (PC) - May 12
  • RefRain - prisim memories - (PC) - May 12
  • Doom (PS4/Xbox One/PC) - May 13
  • Homefront: The Revolution (PS4/Xbox One/PC) - May 17
  • Shadow of the Beast (PS4) - May 17
  • Valkyria Chronicles Remastered (PS4) - May 17
  • htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary (PC) - May 18
  • Lastfight (PC) - May 19
  • The Way (PC) - May 23
  • Overwatch (PS4/Xbox One/PC) - May 24
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan (PS4/PS3/Xbox One/Xbox 360/PC) - May 24
  • Total War: Warhammer (PC/Mac/Linux) - May 24
  • The Last Blade 2 (PS4/PS Vita) - May 24
  • Tropico 5 (Xbox One) - May 24
  • Kittypocalypse (Oculus Rift) - May 25
  • Excubitor (PC/Mac/Linux) - May 26
  • Daydreamer: Awakened Edition (PS4) - May 31
  • Dead Island: Definitive Edition (PS4/Xbox One) - May 31
  • The Elder Scrolls Online - Dark Brotherhood (PC/Mac) - May 31
  • One Piece: Burning Blood (Xbox One/PS4/PS Vita) - May 31

Dates TBA:

  • Shadwen (PS4/PC)
  • The Solus Project (Xbox One/PC)

Are you looking forward to getting your hands on any of these titles? Let us know in the comments!

Courier Conundrums: What is RFD's Least Favourite Shipping Courier?

Courier Conundrums: What is RFD's Least Favourite Shipping Courier?

By Simon Hung

Online shopping is one of the pillars of RedFlagDeals, as the convenience of being able order electronics, clothing or unhealthy amounts of candy without having to leave the comfort of your home is wonderful.

Despite the convenience, one of the things that drive us crazier than frigid office temperatures is the ineptitude and inconsistency of shipping couriers. It seems as though bad experiences commonly outweigh the good, whether your expensive gadget is left haphazardly on your porch, your parcel gets brutally damaged, your delivery estimate is delayed, or you receive a slip telling you to go to a warehouse to pick up your package.

A FedEx driver hand-delivered a package to me. I gave him a word of thanks but he dropped it.

Delivery mishaps are all too frequent and after one of our editors experienced a traumatic courier-related catastrophe, we set out to find out if there was any correlation between specific couriers and service.

Shipping couriers are an enigma more puzzling than the blue/black/gold/white dress and seem to be a lightning rod discussion topic in our Shopping Discussion forum (Exhibit A, B, C, D). In an effort to solve this enigma, we conducted a completely unscientific, informal survey within our office. The final results were interesting, though unsurprising, as every participant has had at least one issue with most major couriers.

Purolator and UPS each received 30% of the vote for worst courier (L), while Canada Post received 60% of the vote for the best (R).

Purolator and UPS shared the distinction of being the least favourite couriers among our staff, with each company receiving 30% of the vote. When asked why, a common issue with Purolator was the fact that they often left notices to pick up the package from an inconveniently-located depot (in Toronto, the main Purolator depot is located in Etobicoke, a suburb that requires an hour of travel from the downtown core). One person was even charged extra after asking for a re-delivery:

"They told me they attempted delivery twice, and then told me to pick up the package in a depot 45 minutes away from where I lived. I asked them to deliver it again and was slapped with a $10.00 fee. After calling them, I got the fee "waived" and delivery the next day, but they never credited the $10.00 fee and I had to call twice to get my money back."

Meanwhile, those who voted for UPS were flummoxed by their odd delivery windows and lack of awareness or effort when delivering expensive items. One staffer had a particularly memorable experience, for all the wrong reasons:

"They never ring the doorbell…they just put the item on my doorstep and leave. One time I bought a monitor during a Boxing Day sale and they left the item out in the snow. I was home and randomly checked the front door just in case and discovered my package was half covered in snow."

On the other hand, Canada Post was the popular choice for best courier, garnering 60% of the overall vote. However, many of the votes were merely by default, as the abundance of post office locations makes it less of a headache when you have to pick up your delivery. As many participants pointed out, they were the best choice in a pool of bad choices:

"It's sad that Canada Post is the best but the others are so awful that I know no other choice."

"They can get into my building. I live in an apartment."

"It's a pretty narrow win, but I can't say that Canada Post has actually provided better service than the other couriers, honestly."

"I can pick up at the post office near me. I don't worry about my packages being left on my doorstep and I can pick it up at off hours."

What’s interesting about our in-office results was the disdain for Purolator and tolerance of Canada Post, even though Canada Post owns 91% of Purolator. Conventional wisdom would hope that one day, maybe (just maybe), we’ll be able to pick up Purolator packages from Canada Post locations, but that may make too much sense for it to ever happen.

It's okay. He's a professional.

You've heard what we think, how about you? Answer our polls below to express your opinion on the worst and best couriers and be sure to share your shipping horror stories in the comments!

RFD Shopping Survey -- You Could Win a $50 Gift Card!

RFD Shopping Survey -- You Could Win a $50 Gift Card!

By RedFlagDeals.com Staff

Hi, RedFlagDeals.com readers! We're running a short survey to ask your opinions on shopping in Canada! After you complete the survey, leave a comment letting us know and we'll enter you in a random draw to win a $50 gift card!

Create your own user feedback survey
Big Heart, Small Budget: 10 DIY Mother’s Day Gifts She’ll Love

Big Heart, Small Budget: 10 DIY Mother’s Day Gifts She’ll Love

By Amanda Aikman

Remember, when you were a kid, and your mom would say the gifts that meant the most to her were the ones you made yourself? I am a mom, and I know she really meant it. But by now, she probably has her share of macaroni art and pipe cleaner roses, so it’s time to up your game a little.

With that in mind, we present 10 of our favourite DIY gifts for moms. Some are better suited to crafty types who are well versed in the glue-gun arts; others are aimed at beginners looking for impressive results with minimal effort. All will brighten your mom’s Mother’s Day and remind her why you’re her favourite child.

1. DIY Frame Vases

This one requires power tools and a little know-how, but the end result is a lovely one-of-a-kind piece she’ll be proud to display next to your graduation photo and softball trophies. And once you’ve made this cool frame vase for her, you’ll know what to get her for all subsequent occasions…flowers to put in this cool frame vase!

2. DIY Kitchen Tablet Holder

photo courtesy of TipHero.com

When is a cutting board not a cutting board? When you transform it into this cool kitchen tablet holder, that’s when. Your mom can conveniently reference all of the latest online recipes while she whips you up an amazing family dinner. Win-win.

3. Tub Teas

If your mom likes tea and taking baths, she’ll love these adorable and calming tub teas. After all, you’ve spent years contributing to her stress; the least you could do is contribute to her relaxation now.

4. Egg Carton Roses DIY Lamp Shade

Got an eco-friendly mom with a soft spot for roses? Than this one is for you. Plug in your hot glue gun and start eating a lot of eggs. Before you know it you’ll have a lovely lamp shade fit for the Queen of Hearts (or at least the queen of your heart).

5. 52 Things I Love About You Deck of Cards

photo courtesy of CountryLiving.com

Nothing melts a mom’s heart like her children telling her how much and why they love her. This project might be a little time-consuming, but it’s guaranteed to trump the bouquet of flowers or Pot of Gold chocolates your siblings are going to show up with…and really, isn’t that the point of Mother’s Day?

6. Mason Jar Picture Frame Vase

From candleholders to snow globes to artisanal cocktail vessels, the versatile and affordable Mason jar is constantly being repurposed. This time, it’s donning a coat of paint and a family photograph and becoming a cheery new vase for mom.

7. Fizzy Scented Bath Bombs

photo courtesy of PlaydoughtoPlato.com

What mom wouldn’t love a pretty, sweet-smelling, fizzy bath bomb or two? This project is easy enough for young children to help with (or do for you) and gives you an opportunity to play with shapes and colours to create a customized gift your mother will love.

8. DIY Photo Pendant

For a nostalgic twist, create a pretty, personal gift with photographs of your mom in her youth, of you as a child, or of your mom’s mom. Attach your custom pendant to a charm bracelet or chain, or if your mom’s not into jewellery, turn it into a magnet.

9. Brown Sugar Exfoliating Scrub

Treat your mom to a natural beauty treatment with this handmade brown sugar exfoliating scrub. With just a few ingredients from your pantry, a cute jar and some ribbon, you can whip up a pampering experience that will leave her skin feeling soft and smelling sweet.

10. DIY Vintage Teacup Candles

photo courtesy of HeyGorg.com

Vintage teacups are too lovely to stay packed away in the cupboard waiting for teatime. Pick a favourite to transform into a pretty homemade candle and impress your mom with your refined style and inventive craftiness.

PJ's Pets To Close 27 Stores Across Canada

PJ's Pets To Close 27 Stores Across Canada

By Ambia Staley

Some more bad news on the Canadian retail front, as pet store chain PJ's Pets and Pets Unlimited announced earlier this week that they will be closing 27 stores across Canada.

PJ's currently operates 39 stores across the country. In a press release, company Vice President Brad Hamilton did not give a reason for the closures, but stated, "We are saddened to say that we are closing our doors after almost 50 years of serving the pet community across Canada". The closures span 6 Canadian provinces, including 11 stores in Ontario, 6 in Nova Scotia, and 5 in British Columbia. You can view a full list of closing locations here.

Most locations are expected to begin closing on April 29. Between now and closure, the affected locations are offering 30% off all food, pet supplies, and accessories.

Le Chateau to Close 40 Stores Over The Next 3 Years

Le Chateau to Close 40 Stores Over The Next 3 Years

By Ambia Staley

Struggling Montreal-based retailer, Le Chateau announced this week that it plans to shut down 40 stores over the next 3 years in hopes of recalibrating the brand.

After closing 11 stores in 2015, the retailer still reported a $12.8 million loss over the last year, making it the 5th year in a row that the brand has reported losses. However, this is an improvement over the $38.7 million loss reported in 2014.

The news may come as a surprise to some, as Le Chateau's recent efforts to turn the tide -- including the closures of less profitable stores, renovating others, and refocusing the brand on a more mature audience -- seemed to be a viable plan. Last year, the brand also went to its founder, Herschel Segal, for a $15 million loan in hopes of elevating some of the financial problems.

The news isn't all bad, as online sales increased 34.8% in 2015. However, online sales only account for approximately 10% of Le Chateau's total income. Realizing that retail trends now largely lie with e-shopping, Le Chateau hopes that closing even more under-performing stores and putting more effort into online sales will help turn things around.

Out of the 40 stores to be closed over the next 3 years, 14 are expected to close in 2016. There is still no word on which locations are slated for closure.

Does this new development come as a shock to you? Do you think Le Chateau can prevent succumbing to the same fate as Danier, Mexx, and other failed retailers in Canada? Share your thoughts in the comments below!