Unaware of Brantford’s municipal bylaw restricting Boxing Day shopping hours, Mandeep Singh, his brother Jatinder, and nine-year-old daughter Gurmannat arrived at Best Buy on Lynden Road at 5:30 a.m.
“Nobody was here,” Mandeep said. “I was surprised to be the first in line.”
Singh indicated he was looking to buy a 75-inch television, a laptop, printer, and a tablet for his daughter.
“We have waited six months to buy a big screen TV,” Singh said, adding that on Boxing Day many items, “are usually $200 to $300 cheaper, so I’m saving money.”
Brantford’s bylaw establishes retail shopping hours on Boxing Day as 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., while in most other Ontario cities stores open much earlier.
“6 a.m. is pretty early for staff, because it was just Christmas yesterday” said Grace Townsley, who took a spot at the end of the line just after 8:30 a.m. on Thursday.
The Brantford woman said she was trying to buy an Apple watch and expected to save between $100 and $150.
By 1 p.m. the Best Buy store was still abuzz with hundreds of shoppers taking advantage of discounted prices.
“It’s been a busy day,” observed store manager Alex Lear. “We had a couple hundred people lined up from the get go.”
Lear noted that while his store is “one of the unique ones” to be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., it meant he could have all his staff working just one shift, making for more people on the floor to assist customers.
John O’Neill has owned and operated Brant Stereo on Market Street in downtown Brantford since 1973 and recalls a time when stores were closed on Boxing Day.
“The pie doesn’t get bigger because you added another day,” O’Neill said.
The longtime downtown merchant said the city kept retail staff in mind when they crafted the bylaw. Otherwise, he noted, “some of the chain stores would open at midnight, which wouldn’t be too attractive to employees.”
While his store wasn’t nearly as crowded as others on Boxing Day, O’Neill says he’s not concerned about competing with big box stores.
“The myth that they are lower price is just not there,” he said, noting that while he doesn’t carry low-end products, his website administrator generates daily pricing reports from competitors across Canada and automatically sets his prices lower.
“If you want some of the better products, that’s basically what we do here.”