Despite a vote to extend Sunday shopping in Toronto, a Danforth Avenue clothier plans to remain closed.
On Nov. 8, city councillors voted to allow all Toronto retail stores open on four of nine public holidays each year. Currently, only retail stores and shopping centres in the city’s five tourist areas can open on all holidays. Saul Korman has operated Korry’s Clothiers for 60 years, but has remained closed on Sundays.
“There are enough retail days,” he said. “It makes people work who don’t want to work on those holidays.”
Korman said he would have kept his store open if all stores in the neighbourhood did. He added he thought there were enough shopping days for owners to run their business. He argued it is neither beneficial to the owners nor the staffs.
He recalled when Sunday shopping began in Toronto, in 1992, an American chain store on Bloor Street discovered that all staff members but one were reluctant to work on Sunday.
“The person who said ‘yes’ ended up working 41 hours, and the rest worked 22 hours. They couldn’t make a living. After two months, everybody wanted to work on Sundays,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sunday shopping has always had a supporter in Toronto furrier Paul Magder.
Back in the 1970s, Magder explained he had customers coming in and out of his downtown fur shop on Sundays.
On one Sunday, he said, the police suddenly arrived and charged his staff – two workers of Asian descent – sewing in the back, not him. The two had volunteered to work an extra hour.
“I was angry with the police. I said, ‘You have your fight with me, not with my staff,’” he said.
He said the regulations prohibiting Sunday were unconstitutional. Magder is currently renovating his store, but he wants his son to come back to the business when the renovation ends; he’s afraid his son doesn’t want to.
“I think my son was so hurt by what happened,” Magder said “We were treated so terribly…All I wanted to do was to make a living.”
Magder said the city needs a different priority on Sunday shopping.
“Instead of discussing opening days,” he said, “the city has to protect people from being forced to work and make sure they get a bonus pay.”
He explained many stores at shopping malls such as the Eaton Centre actually have troubles getting staff for holiday shifts.
Korman said the partial permit has also been problematic. He said a lot of BIAs and plaza owners apply to the city to join a tourist area to remain open more days. He said it doesn’t give much choice to the retail owners if they’re in the tourist area.
“The push is put on the retailers by the shopping centre developers, because they’re looking for the commissions,” he added.