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Demand for sports equipment and home gyms booms as Canadians prepare for pandemic winter – CBC.ca

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Canadians in need of sports equipment and fitness gear to stay healthy and have fun during a pandemic winter have learned a valuable lesson: Shop early to avoid disappointment.

“People saw what happened with kiddie pools and fitness equipment in the spring,” said Gillian Montgomery, who co-owns Skiis and Biikes, a sporting goods chain with three locations in southern Ontario. Her stores are already unusually busy.

“Normally we don’t have interest in winter products until we see the snow and even until Christmas, but this year we’ve had maybe 30 calls just since September about getting cross-country skiing equipment.”

At Calgary’s Abom Ski & Board, owner Randy Ahl already has a “big, long” waiting list for entry-level cross-country ski packages that haven’t even arrived at the store yet.

Wait lists already growing

“Whether it’s a couple or a family, they’re saying, ‘We want a phone call when those things come in,'” said Ahl, who has already outfitted entire families with boots, poles and skis that he does have in stock. “I consider over $2,000 to be a fairly big purchase, and that’s happened already more than a dozen times.”

People who plan to exercise indoors are prepping as well.  

Drew Berner has installed a home gym in his Toronto garage.

I fully intend to be out there all winter long,” said the father of three-year-old twins. “My garage is detached, but it is insulated, and I’m going to get a little space heater.”

Early in the pandemic with gyms locked down, health-conscious Canadians made alternate arrangements, following along with exercise instructors on YouTube, joining classes held in parks, or buying exercise gear to use at home. 

Drew Berner of Toronto hustled to assemble a gym in his garage, as many retailers were sold out of equipment and used goods were in hot demand. (Submitted by Drew Berner)

But many retailers were unable to satisfy demand for sporting goods and fitness equipment. Canadian Tire experienced triple-digit growth in the category. 

“Consumer demand far exceeded both historical demand and available inventory,” the company said in a statement to CBC News.  

A sense of urgency

When Berner tried to find a set of weights, an exercise bike and a rowing machine for his garage gym, he found most were already sold out. Only by persisting was he able to get what he needed. He spent $3,000 on a mix of new and second-hand equipment.

“That involved everything from having alerts set on Kijiji … to having email alerts from stores so I would be notified as soon as they had things I wanted in stock,” said Berner, noting that he had to act fast before another buyer scooped them up. 

Now, as cases of COVID-19 surge across Canada, national fitness chains such as GoodLife Fitness and F45 Training remain open — with limited capacity. Even so, some gym members are unwilling to return to an environment where people breathe heavily and sweat. And the market for used goods is again red hot.

The most popular search terms on online seller Kijiji are still dumbbells, ellipticals and exercise bikes, said company’s manager of community relations, Kent Sikstrom.  

Second-hand Peloton Bikes have more than doubled since this time last year, while inquiries about elliptical machines are up 39 per cent and treadmills inquiries are up 15 per cent. 

Brother and sister team Devin and Gillian Montgomery, owners of Skiis and Biikes, a small Ontario sporting goods chain, say their stores are unusually busy for this time of year. (Submitted by Devin and Gillian Montgomery)

“Probably in the next couple of weeks we may see snow shoes, cross-country skis,  sleds, and snowboard begin to create a new trend for the season,” said Sikstrom. 

eBay Canada, which sells both new and used goods, is also reporting significant increases. Stair machines are up 230 per cent from this time last year, while treadmills sales are up 280 per cent, according to the head of the Canadian operation, Rob Bigler.

Gear not essential

“We’ve been super busy,” said Bigler. “It’s a great time to sell that treadmill that’s been sitting in your basement, maybe being used to hang up laundry.”

But Samantha Monpetit-Huynh, a fitness coach and trainer in Toronto, pointed out that a lot of gear isn’t essential to stay active and healthy.

Randy Alh, right, the owner of Calgary’s Abom Ski & Board, stands with customer Ken Dyer. Alsh has started a wait list for beginner cross-country ski packages because of the demand. (Submitted by Randy Ahl)

“People forget your body is probably the best piece of equipment you’ve got,” she said. “You don’t need all this stuff — you just need to move and you need to do it regularly. More than once a week.”

Monpetit-Huynh said it’s possible to use laundry detergent bottles or soup cans as weights, and go for walks or runs. However, she recently invested $3,000 in a brand-new Peloton exercise bicycle that allows her to join spinning classes remotely.

“I love going to the gym, but I thought, ‘You know what? I should get something because if we get a second wave I want to be prepared.'”

Berner said for him, there’s more to it than fitness.

“Exercise is crucial for my mental health,” he said. “I notice even if I go for a couple of days without exercise my mood starts to drop.”

Other Canadians who feel the same and haven’t yet made a plan would be well advised to start considering their options — or risk getting left out in the cold during a long pandemic winter.

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More than 100 People Gather for COVID-19 Protest in Windsor – AM800 (iHeartRadio)

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The Great Demonstration Against Harmful COVID-19 Measures drew more than 100 people to downtown Windsor Sunday.

Protestors held signs rebelling against mask restrictions, quarantine protocols and what they’re calling “coerced testing” at the foot of Ouellette Avenue beneath The Great Canadian Flag for a rally around 1 p.m. — followed by a march up Ouellette Avenue where they stopped traffic in front of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit on the corner of Erie Street.

Co-organizer Currie Soulliere, who launched a failed attempt to shop at Devonshire Mall without a mask earlier this summer, says protestors don’t want to see another lockdown.

“There’s always a threat that there may be another lockdown and we need a guarantee that there’s something protecting us from that happening again,” she says. 

Medical Director of Health Dr. Wajid Ahmed previously said the protest is dangerous, potentially spreading the virus and information with no scientific backing.

That didn’t stop the crowd from chanting outside a likely unstaffed health unit on a Sunday afternoon.

“He didn’t want to speak to us, I’m pretty sure he said that, but we are going to make our presence known in front of the health unit,” Soulliere added.

Parts of Ottawa, Toronto, Peel and the York Region have seen modified Stage 2 restrictions imposed this month as hot spots in record case numbers in Ontario.

Windsor remains in Stage 3 of COVID-19 recovery and has few restrictions outside of phycical distancing rules and mask requirements.

Soulliere says protestors want a guarantee that won’t change.

“Some kind of guarantee that we’re not going to have any more lockdowns or shutdowns over what is amounting to a far less deadly virus than we were initially told, ” says Soulliere. “Honestly, a lot of us are questioning whether [Dr.] Wajid Ahmed should have his position at the health unit.”

There have been 42.5-million cases of COVID-19 documented globally since the pandemic began in April resulting in 1.15-million deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

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Lee Kun-Hee, force behind Samsung's rise, dies at 78 – Business News – Castanet.net

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Lee Kun-Hee, the ailing Samsung Electronics chairman who transformed the small television maker into a global giant of consumer electronics but whose leadership was also marred by corruption convictions, died on Sunday. He was 78.

Lee died with his family members by his side, including his only son and Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, the company said in a statement.

Samsung didn’t announce the cause of death, but Lee had been hospitalized since May 2014 after suffering a heart attack and the younger Lee has been running Samsung, South Korea’s biggest company.

“All of us at Samsung will cherish his memory and are grateful for the journey we shared with him,” the Samsung statement said. “His legacy will be everlasting.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent senior presidential officials to pass a condolence message to Lee’s family at a mourning site. In the message, Moon called the late tycoon “a symbol of South Korea’s business world whose leadership would provide courage to our companies” at a time of economic difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Moon’s office said.

Lee’s family said the funeral would be private but did not immediately release details.

Lee inherited control of the company from his father, and during his nearly 30 years of leadership, Samsung Electronics Co. became a global brand and the world’s largest maker of smartphones, televisions and memory chips. Samsung sells Galaxy phones while also making the screens and microchips that power its major rivals — Apple’s iPhones and Google Android phones.

Its businesses encompass shipbuilding, life insurance, construction, hotels, amusement parks and more. Samsung Electronics alone accounts for 20% of the market capital on South Korea’s main stock exchange.

Lee leaves behind immense wealth, with Forbes estimating his fortune at $16 billion as of January 2017.

His death comes during a complex time for Samsung.

When he was hospitalized, Samsung’s once-lucrative mobile business faced threats from upstart makers in China and elsewhere. Pressure was high to innovate its traditionally strong hardware business, to reform a stifling hierarchical culture and to improve its corporate governance and transparency.

Like other family-run conglomerates in South Korea, Samsung has been credited with helping propel the country’s economy to one of the world’s largest from the rubbles of the 1950-53 Korean War. But their opaque ownership structure and often-corrupt ties with bureaucrats and government officials have been viewed as a hotbed of corruption in South Korea.

Lee Kun-Hee was convicted in 2008 for illegal share dealings, tax evasion and bribery designed to pass his wealth and corporate control to his three children. In 1996, he was convicted of bribing a former president. But in both cases, he avoided jail after courts suspended his sentences, at the time a common practice that helped make South Korean business tycoons immune from prison despite their bribery convictions.

Most recently, Samsung was ensnared in an explosive 2016-17 scandal that led to South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s ouster and imprisonment.

Lee Jae-yong was sentenced to five years in prison in 2017 for offering 8.6 billion won ($7 million) in bribes to Park and one of her confidants to help secure the government’s backing for his attempt to solidify control over Samsung. He was freed in early 2018 after an appellate court reduced his term and suspended the sentence. But last month, prosecutors indicted him again on similar charges, setting up yet another protracted legal battle.

Lee Kun-Hee was a stern, terse leader who focused on big-picture strategies, leaving details and daily management to executives.

His near-absolute authority allowed the company to make bold decisions in the fast-changing technology industry, such as shelling out billions to build new production lines for memory chips and display panels even as the 2008 global financial crisis unfolded. Those risky moves fueled Samsung’s rise.

Lee was born on Jan. 9, 1942, in the southeastern city of Daegu during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. His father, Lee Byung-chull, had founded an export business there in 1938, and following the Korean War, he rebuilt the company into an electronics and home appliance manufacturer and the country’s first major trading company.

When Lee Kun-Hee inherited control of Samsung from his father in 1987, Samsung was relying on Japanese technology to produce TVs and was taking its first steps toward exporting microwaves and refrigerators.

A decisive moment came in 1993 when Lee Kun-Hee made sweeping changes to Samsung after a two-month trip abroad convinced him that the company needed to improve the quality of its products.

In a speech to Samsung executives, he famously urged, “Let’s change everything except our wives and children.”

Not all his moves succeeded.

A notable failure was the group’s expansion into the auto industry in the 1990s, in part driven by Lee Kun-Hee’s passion for luxury cars. Samsung later sold near-bankrupt Samsung Motor to Renault. The company also was frequently criticized for disrespecting labour rights. Cancer cases among workers at its semiconductor factories were ignored for years.

Earlier this year, Lee Jae-yong declared that heredity transfers at Samsung would end, promising the management rights he inherited wouldn’t pass to his children. He also said Samsung would stop suppressing employee attempts to organize unions, although labour activists questioned his sincerity.

The 52-year-old Lee expressed remorse for causing public concern over the 2016-17 scandal, but did not admit to wrongdoing regarding his alleged involvement.

Lee Kun-Hee resigned as chairman of Samsung Electronics before the 2008 conviction. But he received a presidential pardon in 2009 and returned to Samsung’s management in 2010.

“As South Korea’s most successful entrepreneur, (Lee Kun-Hee) received a dazzling spotlight, but he had many vicissitudes full of grace and disgrace,” the ruling Democratic Party said in a statement. “We hope a ‘new Samsung’ will be realized at an early date as Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong promised.”

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Job losses to come in wake of Cenovus-Husky transaction, but scale unknown – Calgary Herald

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Article content continued

Business Council of Alberta president Adam Legge acknowledged likely job losses.

“No one likes to see any further job losses than what this province has already been experiencing, and that’s the likely, unfortunate outcome of these kinds of mergers,” he said. “(It will be felt) through everything from real estate to job losses.”

Cenovus said Sunday they had yet to make any decisions on their office space.

In past Alberta oil and gas mergers, including the 2009 deal between Petro-Canada and Suncor, sublease space was added to the market as companies aimed to cut redundancies. The same could happen here, speculated Greg Kwong, the Calgary managing director for real-estate brokerage company CBRE.

“The public can focus on the fact that (Cenovus) is doing this to create efficiencies and come out a stronger, merged company,” Kwong said. “We’re mostly worried that this is a trend we’re going to see more of, maybe not to this magnitude, but with all companies struggling in this environment they’re going to look for efficiencies.”

Legge praised the merger from a business standpoint, saying it should make Cenovus more resilient and diverse and give the company “a new lease on life.”

“This is great news for Cenovus. It expands their footprint, gets them into some of the downstream retail market, which it sounds like they’ve been looking at for quite some time,” he said. “It’s probably a sign of more to come in the sense that as companies look to thrive in a new landscape, the reality is they’ll need to survive through scale.”

jherring@postmedia.com

Twitter: @jasonfherring

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