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National Business Book Award winner announced.

June 3, 2013 | Teresa | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The winner of the 28th annual National Business Book Awards was recently announced.  Chrystia Freeland was honored for her book Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-rich and the Fall of Everyone Else. The author, who is a columnist for the Globe and Mail, as well as editor of consumer news at Thomson Reuters, explores in her book, the super rich and their impact on the economy and politics. 

Check out her book along with the other nominated titles:


   Nba plutocrats


Other nominated titles:

Nba true north     Nba double     Nba power

For reviews of these titles check out this page from the Report on Business.


A toy story

May 6, 2013 | Raya | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...




Toys have been around for thousands of years but did not become "big business" until the early 1800s when advances in transportation--mainly trains-- allowed for the wider distribution.  The industrial revolution that followed led to the mass production of toys making them more affordable. Increased accessiblilty was ccompanied by changes in the products themselves. Early toys such as horses, soldiers, wagons and other simple toys were usually made of wood, tin or cast iron. Later innovations in materials, like sawdust-based composition for dolls' heads and lithographed paper on wood to simulate domestic interiors or hand painted scenes on play sets, added variety and rapid change to this growing industry.

The 20th century introduced many new and exciting products: Plasticine was first made commercially in 1900, Meccano was invented by John Hornby in 1901, train sets became very popular in the 1920s and Lego was introduced in the 1950s. Mr. Potato Head appeared in 1952 and the skateboard was invented in 1958.  One of the most famous toys of the 20th century, the Barbie doll, was introduced at the 1959 Toy Fair in New York City. With inventions in circuitry and miniaturization in the early 1980's the video game market exploded with Nintendo leading the pack.  According to a Euromonitor report (report available through  Research Monitor database ) the traditional toy and games industry, currently valued at $1.8 billion (Canadian Toy Industry Association) in Canada, will continue to grow at 1% per year despite an ageing population while video game sales will reach an estimated $3 billion by 2016!

Are you an inventor looking for more information on the toy industry and it's competitors or are you someone who is simply interested in reading about the cut-throat world of toys? Take a look at what the library has to offer:

   Toys1 Toys2 Toys3

  Toys4     Toys5  Toys6


The Pampered Chef

March 11, 2013 | Raya | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...



In 1980 Doris Christopher, former home economics teacher and stay-at-home mom, decided to supplement the family income by selling quality kitchenware by doing in-home presentations to small groups of women. The key to her success was in demonstrating the ease and versatility of the products by preparing food during her presentations and selling products that she felt passionate about. In her first year she did $50,000 in business and soon after The Pampered Chef was born.

With $3000 in start up money Doris built a business and made it an international success by creating a mission that resonates with most people: To bring families together at the table for shared mealtimes. The company continued to grow even through the 1990's as other party plan merchandisers began to lose business due to changing lifestyles. It spread to the UK in 1999 and Germany in 2000. In 2002 Doris Christopher sold The Pampered Chef to Warren Buffett. Today, The Pampered Chef is a multi-level marketing company with an international workforce of 60,000 that still continues to offer high quality kitchen products.

To read more about The Pampered Chef and other direct selling companies, take a look at these books:

Pampered1 Pampered2 Pampered3 Pampered4







Branding your business

December 22, 2012 | Raya | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Have you been able to connect emotionally to your customers?  Is your company irreplaceable?  Do you think you can build a lifelong relationship with your customers? Maximizing your business' earning potential by creating a brand that people just can't live without is pretty tricky. So how do you do this?

In order to succeed in branding you must first identify the needs and wants of your customers. You do this by integrating your brand strategies through your company at every point of public contact. Be innovative and evolve as customers needs change. It's important to spend time investing in researching, defining, and building your brand. Your brand then becomes a promise to your customers that the product will always be reliable and trustworthy. It's a foundational piece in your marketing communication and one you do not want to be without

Brands that have been around for a long time can be excellent examples of how to target your customers. Take for example Nestles which is the leading brand of instant coffee. It was also the first.  After intensive research in the 1930s researchers developed a way to reduce their coffee surpluses by producing a cheaper coffee which could be made by adding water. Over the years it continued to be innovative by introducing various types of coffee.  As a result Nescafe has remained the world's leading coffee brand and the second most valuable brand in the beverage sector with around 3,000 cups of Nescafe drunk every second!  Then there is Wrigley whose main product was Wrigley's Scouring Soap and not gum. William Wrigley believed in customer incentives and offered a free packet of baking powder with every purchase of his soap.  The baking powder soon became more popular than the soap so Wrigley started selling the baking powder and offered two packs of gum as an incentive.  Again, when Wrigley realized that the gum was more popular than the baking powder he allowed his customers to dictate his business direction and made gum the sole focus of his company. After that, he continued to introduce different varieties of gum and worked hard to market his best product--Wrigley's Spearmint-- by advertising in ways no one had before.

There are many more brands like Nestles and Wrigleys and they all have many things in common when it comes to branding. Will your company be the next Nike, Campbell's or Coca-Cola? Here are some books to get you started:

Brand Brand3 Brand4 Brand5




Procter & Gamble celebrates 175th anniversary

December 14, 2012 | Raya | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...




Procter and Gamble produces many of the products we use in our homes.  From toothpaste to detergent to cat food and more, P & G has become a global success story.  The key to their success has been innovation. By combining high value with excellent products as well as producing great advertising campaigns, P & G has positioned itself to be a market leader.

In 1837 brothers-in-law William Procter, a candlemaker, and James Gamble, a soapmaker, signed a partnership agreement and started producing both soap and candles.  In the 1880's they began marketing a product called "Ivory".  This revolutionary new product consisted of soap flakes that float in water. Like most companies of the time, P & G spent very little on advertising using only small ads in religious journals and city newspapers. Not until 1900 did they hire an advertising agency to handle its ads which began to appear as increasingly sophisticated four-colour ads. Then, as radio became more popular in the 1930's, P & G began advertising their products during radio programs.  These shows became known as "soap operas". By 1889, P&G employed 600 people and had annual sales that topped $3 million.  They also began to market new products that in some cases competed with existing ones. This laid the ground work for today's brand-management system and was the beginning of P&G's ongoing quest to respond to customers' needs.

Over the years P & G has acquired companies that have continued to give them the opportunity to diversify their product lines. Realizing the importance of increasing consumer engagement with their brands, P & G has managed to create a loyal consumer following through it's product quality, customer service and innovative product line.

If you want to read more about P&G, check out these books:

Procter Procter2 Procter3  Procter6



Customer service the Nordstrom way

October 19, 2012 | Raya | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...


Yet another U.S. company is set to make an appearance on the Canadian retail scene. Nordstrom Inc. will be opening 4 stores in Canada, the first of which will open in 2014 in Calgary, followed by stores in Ottawa and Vancouver in 2015, and then Toronto in the following year. It expects to hire 1000 employees and has plans to continue to expand across the country.

In 1887 at the age of 16 John W. Nordstrom left Sweden for New York City to make his fortune.  After many years of labouring in mining and logging camps John went to the Klondike and within two years had earned $13,000 and then returned to Seattle to start a business. In 1901, Nordstrom and his partner Carl Wallin opened their first shoe store in downtown Seattle.  John's business philosophy was based on exceptional service, selection, quality and value. As a result of this philosophy he built a devoted customer base that has continued to this day.  The company soon grew to become the largest independent shoe chain in the country. In the early 1960's Nordstrom purchased a fashion retail store in Seattle and merged it with their shoe store. Business prospered and two new stores were opened in Washington followed by expansion to the East Coast.

John Nordstom's philosophy of catering to customer's needs and providing excellent customer service is a mainstay of company policy that has made Nordstom a huge success in the retail industry.

If you're looking to improve your customer service and your bottom line, take a look at these books:


Nordstrom Nordstrom2 Nordstrom3

Nordstrom4 Nordstrom5 Nordstrom6

Pharmaceutical industry

September 24, 2012 | Raya | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...



The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most innovative and profitable industries in Canada.  Sales of pharmaceuticals total 3 percent of the global market making Canada the 8th largest world market.  In 2011 the manufacturing sector employed almost 27,000 people and provided 35,000 indirect jobs.  Over the last 10 years employment has increased by 12 percent. Brand-name companies account for 78 percent of Canadian sales and generics account for the rest. (Statistics Canada)

Despite these good points there has always been controversy surrounding the pharmaceutical industry and whether or not these companies have our best interests in mind.  This topic has been the subject of numerous books and documentaries.  Jeffrey Robinson, author of  Prescription Games: Money, Ego and Power inside the Global Pharmaceutical Industry , has done extensive research on the industry.  He  examines how drug companies have benefitted from politically motivated giveaways, how their claims that the costs of research and development are high are not true, and how their desire for ever higher profits come at the expense of real human suffering. He devotes chapters to corporate corruption of research, expensive sales strategies aimed at doctors, the growth of advertising directed at the consumer, industrial espionage and dubious charitable donations.

To read more about this industry, check out these fascinating books:

Pharma Pharma1 Pharma2 Pharma3



Great business documentaries

September 17, 2012 | Raya | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Trying to find a good movie to watch can be difficult.  So, to save you some time here are a few movies, in no particular order, that I found to be informative, exciting and, at times, as thrilling as a crime novel:

   Bigbucksbigpharma-128x128This DVD pulls back the curtain on the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry to expose the ways that illness is used, manipulated, and in some instances created, for capital gain.  Focusing on the industry's marketing practices, media scholars and health professionals help viewers understand the ways in which direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising glamorizes and normalizes the use of prescription medication, and how it works in tandem with promotion to doctors.


DvdIn the devastating aftermath of the economic meltdown, The Warning sifts through the ashes for clues about why it happened and examines critical moments when it might have gone much differently.  Looking back into the 1990's, Frontline discovers early warnings of the crash and uncovers an intense battle between high-ranking members of the Clinton administration vs. one woman trying to sound the alarm about the need to regulate the emerging, highly complex, and lucrative derivatives markets, which would become the ticking time-bomb within the American economy.


 TappedIs access to clean drinking water a basic human right, or a commodity that should be bought and sold like any other article of commerce? This timely documentary is a behind-the-scenes  look into the unregulated and unseen world of an industry that aims to privatize and sell back the one resource that ought never to become a commodity: our water.  From the plastic production to the ocean in which so many of these bottles end up, this inspiring documentary trails the path of the bottled water industry and the communities which were the unwitting chips on the table.



       This documentary dives into the bustling world of late nights, long hours and hard partying to chronicle the rise of a new force in Indian society--the telemarketers. Fast-paced, gritty and fun, this film is a compelling insider's look at youth culture in India. "Here you'll learn accent coaching to sound less ethnic, enjoy culture lessons that feature a viewing of "Crocodile Dundee" and discover that if you can keep the customer on the phone to say no six times, you've almost got your sale.  Watching the highs and lows of the business is compelling, as is the look at Western consumer  values corrupting Indian youth." (NOW magazine)


 Dvd2Our civilization's addiction to oil puts it on a collision course with disaster.  Compelling, intelligent, and highly disturbing, this film visits with the world's top experts and comes to a startling but logical conclusion--our industrial society, built on cheap and readily available oil , must be completely re-imagined and overhauled.  The world's oil supplies are peaking and the crisis of global shortage looms; we are running out of oil and we don't have a plan.


 Dvd3Available in nearly 200 countries, Coca-Cola sells an average of one billion bottles, cans and glasses of their product daily, with archrival Pepsi close on its heels. This documentary looks at the development of these two industry giants and the story of their legendary rivalry. Discover the changes the Coca-Cola formula has undergone over the years--including the controversy over its once high cocaine content--and find out how a massive business blunder by Coca-Cola allowed Pepsi to step into the spotlight.


Dvd4This documentary brings to life the story of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, two Italian immigrant anarchists who were accused of a murder in 1920 and executed in Boston in 1927 after a notoriously prejudiced trial.  Their ordeal came to symbolixe the bigotry and intolerance directed at immigrants and dissenters in America.  Millions of people around the world protested on their behalf, and now 80 years later, their story continues to have great resonance, as civil liberties and the rights of immigrants are again under attack.


Dvd5 One of the greatest scandals in American corporate history, this DVD draws upon the wealth of insider interviews and archival material to show how Enron, once the nation's seventh largest corporate entity, essentially faked its bookkeeping to report profits that never existed. Using various techniques Enron executives tried to hide massive losses that eventually toppled the company and left 20,000 employees jobless.




Learning About Retail

September 10, 2012 | Margaret W. | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Are you interesting in starting a retail store, or growing an already existing retail establishment? One way of learning how is by delving into the experiences of those who have been there before you. Here are three books that look at the experiences, and lessons learned, of successful retailers. Check them out!

By Invitation Only

The Zappos Experience

Competing In Tough Times

By Invitation Only The Zappos Experience Competing In Tough Times

By the way, Enterprise Toronto will be hosting a seminar on September 17th, 2012 from 10:00 AM to 11:30 entitled Building A Winning Retail Plan. The session takes place at the North York Civic Centre, Committee Room 3, 5100 Yonge Street, Toronto. Join them, and learn the steps in starting your own retail business!


Target: Aiming for Canada

August 27, 2012 | Raya | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

In 2011 Target bought 189 Zellers stores across Canada and is planning on renovating between 125-135 of them to open Target here in 2013 and 2014. 

Founder George Draper Dayton opened the "Dayton Dry Goods Company" in Minneapolis in 1902.  The store became known for dependable products, fair business practices and a sense of community.  In 1918 Dayton establishes the Dayton Foundation because he believed in creating a better world and setting an example in helping others. It became the Target Foundation in 2000 and reached a giving-milestone in 2007: $3 million per week to various charities and organizations.

After his death in 1938 Dayton's son and grandsons took over the store and grew it into a nationwide retailer and became known as Dayton's. In 1954, to meet the needs of suburban families, Dayton's began expanding beyond Minneapolis to the suburbs. By the 1960's Dayton's leadership decided to create a different kind of store by moving away from the department store format to a new kind of mass-market discount store that would cater to value-oriented shoppers. In 1962 this new store becomes known as Target and it's logo, a bulls-eye. After a decade of growth Dayton's goes public in 1967 with five autonomous divisions: Dayton's department stores, Target stores, B. Dalton Bookseller, Dayton Jewelers and Dayton Development Company.  Over the years Dayton's has continued to expand its Target stores by joining forces with other retailers and continuing to change its product lines and store format to meet the changing needs of its customers.

Target is the second largest discount retailer in the U.S. after Walmart, so it is inevitable that domestic retailers like Canadian Tire, Sears, The Bay and others will feel some pressure when Target first opens its doors in Canada. We can only hope that they will weather the storm.

Read about Target and other retail stores operating in Canada:


  Target Target2 Target3 Target4

Target Target3 Target2

Welcome! We are specialized librarians in our business department and we write about current issues for small business owners and those interested in personal finance matters. For more information and resources see our Small Business & Personal Finance page.