New Canada Post rules hitting local shops hard

It’s a story that’s become all too familiar across the city: another Canada Post outlet has closed up shop, this time near Bloor and Bathurst.

Hanin Drug Mart, a franchise of the IDA chain, closed its post office recently following demands from the federal agency to renovate and upgrade.

Hanin co-owner Magdy Salama said that it came down to a simple business decision for him.

“When you don’t make money you can’t spend it on somebody’s make-up,” he said, adding that profit margins are so slim in operating a Canada Post outlet that without an extremely high volume of customers it can be difficult to pay for the upgrades.

Less than five years ago, upgrades cost Salama’s business $30,000, part of Canada Post-mandated renovations, including new computers and a facelift.

“It’s not needed in reality,” said Salama, of the renovations.

Since the closure, locals have had to turn to the next-closest outlet, Bloorcourt Stationery and Post, over a kilometre away.

Like Hanin, that outlet has been serving customers for over 15 years. Now, it looks like it’s also in danger of being closed.

Last year, an employee with Canada Post visited Anil and Smita Dave, Bloorcourt’s owners, when their contract was up and laid out the details of the new look for Canada Post outlets. The couple, who came to Canada from India 10 years ago, took over Bloorcourt six years ago.

“When I started the business I spent a lot of money (setting up the Canada Post counter),” Dave said.

However, this time the demands were too much.

“They said they have a new look for the post office and to fit the (new) counter they need a minimum (six metre) wide space,” said
Anil Dave, whose shop falls short of the new requirements by half a metre.

“There must be hundreds of post offices in Toronto that don’t have this (six metre) space.”

Dave offered to set up the counter in a different configuration in the shop, but said that Canada Post wouldn’t have it.

While Dave said he understands Canada Post’s — perspective, that they are a business and must remain competitive — he thinks they
should be more flexible with the design protocol for outlets.

“With a service like this it’s not important how (you look) but if you have the knowledge required to give good service,” he said.

Unlike Hanin Drug Mart, which is primarily a pharmacy, the postal outlet here makes up more than half of the Daves’ business.

“In the past six years I’ve put my heart, sweat and blood into this business and (helped to) establish Canada Post’s name and their services.

“How can they take it from me?”

Canada Post hasn’t renewed the Daves’ contract yet, but it also hasn’t closed the outlet, granting the couple a two-year extension to try to find another shop nearby. The task has proved difficult so far.

“In the city it’s hard to find a place that is that wide,” Dave said.

Dave said the community is ready to stand behind the couple.

“My customers have said ‘We are ready to do anything for you if Canada Post (tries) to take the post office from you.’”

Calls to Canada Post were not returned at press time.

About this article:

By: Christopher Reynolds
Posted: May 5 2010 1:06 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto