Does city hall make a difference? Do they do anything down there that the little guy can benefit from? Produce Planet didn’t think so.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 23, 2012  Alex Iabs can tell you that they do things that hurt the little guy.

Alex is the owner of a brand new produce store on Mount Forest that runs  west off Guelph Line.  It’s a small shop in one of those little strip plazas.  His store, Produce Planet, faces Guelph Line.

Alex is in his second month of business and things are going good  – so good that his larger corporate competitors are feeling a bit of a pinch.  Food Basics called the city’s by law enforcement department saying Produce Planet had put signs on public property; a no, no in Burlington.

Fresh fruit, some of it grown locally sold by a small independent grocer. Larger competitors complain to city about where he puts his signs.

By law enforcement called the store and explained the rules.  Iabs is an innovative marketer – so he hired students to walk up and down Guelph Line holding the signs – same impact but more cost to a guy who has to go up against Fortinos just a three minute drive away, Food Basics, a two minute drive away and No Frills which is about seven minutes away.

Going up against that kind of concentrated competition takes guts but  Produce Planet is still there and expects to be there for some time.

He picks up fresh produce at the Ontario Food Terminal in Mississauga and buys as much product as he can locally.   And it looks as if he can still stay in business using young students holding signs in the hot weather.  “They can last for about an hour” said Iabs.

Priced to sell - Produce Planet draws in new customers at the new store off Guelph Line

“When I got the call from the city saying the dozen or so signs I had on the side of the road were illegal”, adds Iabs, “there was an immediate drop in business and I had to tell three part time people that I could no longer employ them”.

Iabs who has a background as a produce manager with a large corporate store decided he wanted to try and work for himself.  The hours needed to run his own business are much longer but he has the satisfaction of seeing a response for his efforts. Produce Planet is open 8 to 8 – seven days a week.

“There were days when we had consistent line-ups at the cash register and that’s a good feeling”, said Iabs.

Robert, days away from finishing school and looking forward to entering high school in the fall earns $8 an hour holding up a sign.

He recently tried having flyers delivered door to door.  They went out a day or so ago and it’s too early to measure the results.  So in the meantime young Robert, who expect to enroll at M.M. Robinson in the fall to study drama and cooking, (that’s what’s called hedging your bets isn’t it?) will stand out in the hot sun for $8 an hour and hope to drive business to Produce Planet where the prices are lower and the produce as fresh as it can get.


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1 comment to Does city hall make a difference? Do they do anything down there that the little guy can benefit from? Produce Planet didn’t think so.

  • deidra

    Innovative very innovative and clever guy. Hey managers from Food Basics and stuff like that look at the ideas and effort. Produces are really fresh, prices competitive, success is inevitable. See ya)