by: Brian Clarke
When you think of local Ottawa businesses, what comes to mind? For me, it’s the Byward Market, Sparks Street, Westboro and the Glebe. However, local business is much more than the little shops and niche stores.
At Ottawa Rickshaws, we are passionate about this local business scene. In fact, we started (or are in the process of starting), the Rickshaw Media Group to use our advertising space, knowledge of Ottawa and passion for local business to promote the Ottawa businesses.
Most people think of Montreal and Toronto as the business centers of Eastern Canada. But, there have been a few local businesses that have developed into large companies, with well known and liked brands. And no, I’m not talking about Cognos and Corel and Ottawa’s tech industry (although they probably would be Trump-approved business)!
For all you with entrepreneurial spirits out there, maybe this can motivate you to help continue following your dreams and growing Ottawa businesses and the local economy. Let’s make ‘the Donald’ proud!
Here are three Ottawa businesses that have gone ‘big time’. I’m sure there are more, but these are probably the most well-known brands that have their roots right here in the Nation’s Capital.
The first ever Giant Tiger was opened up on George Street in the Byward Market in 1961 – and it’s still there now! Its founder, Gordon Reid, noticed the lack of discount stores in Canada and founded Giant Tiger. Today, his stores have grown to include over 200 locations spread across Canada. It is the largest Canadian-owned retailer and third largest discount store in Canada, after Wal-Mart and Zellers.
Born in Houston, Texas, Val Belcher loved his fajitas, but when he moved to Ottawa to play professional football for the Rough Riders, he noticed that this delicious Texas treat was unheard of in Canada. After his football career ended, Val and one of his former teammates opened the first Lone Star Texas Grill on Baseline Road in 1986. Lone Star has since spread across Ottawa and Southern Ontario, and more importantly, brought the word ‘fajita’ to Ottawa.
Although Farm Boy has yet to spread outside of Eastern Ontario, it has still quickly become of the most successful and well-known local businesses. The first Farm Boy was opened in 1981 in nearby Cornwall and has since grown to include thirteen locations, including one as far away as Kingston. Maybe Farm Boy is the next local business to sweep across Canada?
There are certainly other local businesses that I’m sure I’ve left out. Maybe the Works? Or Gabriel’s Pizza? What are your thoughts and feelings on these, and other, local businesses that put Ottawa business on the map?