Archive for December, 2015

Mac’s Dunbar

Friday, December 4th, 2015

Macs_Dunbar_Life_Palla_Media_Farhan_HaiderMac’s: Canada’s Convenience Store Since 1962

Mac’s has been a fixture on Dunbar Street since 1997. The Canadian convenience store franchise got its start in 1962 under the name Mac’s Milk, represented by the mascot “MacIntosh” the grinning cat, who sported a tam o’ shanter hat and kilt.

In 1975 the company underwent a name change to Mac’s Convenience Stores. In 1999 the company was bought by Montreal based Alimentation Couche-Tard and the new logo “Hibou” the winking owl was introduced, welcoming customers at over 850 storefronts across Canada.

Farhan Haider is the proud owner of Dunbar’s Mac’s and like the winking owl, he has a spark with his big, welcoming smile.

He takes pride in serving people and it is a priority to make customers feel happy when they come in the door.

Originally from Lahore, the capital city of the Pakistani province of Punjab, Haider holds a Masters degree in business administration and learnt how to run a successful business from his 11-year background in marketing.

Macs_Dunbar_Life_Palla_Media_3His new life in Canada began in 2008 when he moved to Canmore, Alberta. While working for another franchise, Shell Canada, he determined he would like to explore this line of work and submitted an application to see what opportunities existed with Mac’s. In 2011 his effort yielded the chance to move to Vancouver to run the Dunbar Street Mac’s.

While product buying is managed centrally by head office, all of the ordering for the Dunbar store is left to Haider. Recently he earned a feather in his cap when headquarters deemed, based on his location’s excellent sales, the Dunbar store would receive a large renovation, which took place this past summer.

New flooring, lighting, a variety of new equipment and a shift in the floor plan transformed Mac’s. Throughout the construction process the business remained open, as Haider did not want to inconvenience his customers.

Today clients have even more selection from the new and upgraded equipment, which offers some of Mac’s mainstay products such as Frosters, Polar Pop, soft ice cream, milkshakes and coffee.

Macs_Dunbar_Life_Palla_Media_frosterFlavours have been added to the Polar Pop soda fountain station (with 20 flavours to choose from at an affordable 79 cents each). There are now 12 Frosters’ on tap, and nine flavours of soft ice cream and milkshakes.

Simply Great, a European brand, is the house coffee which is paired with a state of the art machine that can whip up a cappuccino, latte or mochaccino with one touch of a button. Coffee drinkers are responding favourably and there has been a substantial increase in sales.

Open 24 hours a day, year round, the store’s top selling items include Frosters, milk, candy and coffee. Other popular services include an ATM, and the sale of both transit and lottery tickets. Mac’s has recently introduced their own economical brand of spring water, soft drinks, potato chips, nuts and trail mix (look for the owl logo).

He and his wife Saba, who assists with the business, have a young family (two children ages 5 and 7). They enjoy seeing the shop as a family destination and mention children will drop in for a treat while their parents pick up supplies and look at the magazines.

Mac’s clientele is diverse. The morning tends to bring in older clients who pick up a newspaper and coffee. The afternoon sees working people, school kids and families walking through the door, while night owls (including university students) often come in to refuel with snacks and coffee.

Mac’s Roller Grill offers quick snacks for people on the go such as hot dogs, smokies, corn dogs, taquitos, spring rolls, breakfast burritos and chili cheese nachos. If you are looking for a fresh baked good to accompany a beverage the new Bakery to Go case offers muffins, cream cheese strudels, apple turnovers and chocolate chip cookies.

As a 24/7 business Mac’s is a go to store when other businesses are closed. Christmas and New Year’s Day are always exceptionally busy. Traditionally the convenience store offers customers free coffee on these special holidays.

Macs_Dunbar_Life_Palla_Media_extAs a marketing specialist Haider points out that Mac’s is a wonderful place for gift buying. Two racks are loaded with gift cards with something to please everyone on your list including Mac’s gift card (good for students and teachers), Canadian Tire, Cineplex, Facebook, Indigo, iTunes, Old Navy, SportChek, Starbucks, Subway, prepaid credit cards, and a variety of popular game cards.

Haider appreciates the value of marketing tools such as social media and has created a Mac’s at Dunbar Facebook page so customers can interact with their neighbourhood convenience store.

Going the extra mile for his customers is always at the top of Haider’s list. He mentions making home deliveries for a customer who was temporarily unable to leave the home, and he also recollects making a client’s day when she lost her wallet and never thought she would see it again. It’s all in a day’s work for this friendly business owner.

4470 Dunbar Street
Vancouver BC V6S 2G5
Telephone 604-736-9528

Martin Brothers Funeral Services

Friday, December 4th, 2015

Martin_Brothers_Funeral_Dunbar_Life_Palla_Media_extThere When You Need Them

Death is a difficult topic for many of us to broach. When your family is faced with a loss, the caring and compassionate professionals at Martin Brothers Funeral Services are there to help get you through one of life’s most challenging times.

Martin Brothers is a well-established funeral provider although it is relatively new to Vancouver. The company dates back to 1907 when Benjamin Martin founded the company in Lethbridge, Alberta. In 1922 he and his brother Harry purchased the T.S. Fetterly firm, which then became Martin Brothers.

In 1961 Ben’s sons Derek and Dale Martin purchased the funeral home from their father and uncle. Dale Martin Sr.’s son, Dale Martin Jr., resides as President and CEO of Martin Brothers.

Director of Operations, Valerie Martell indicates this is not a traditional funeral home; there is no chapel on site as there are so many churches and other venues to choose from in the community.

Martell explains, “We did not want to pigeon hole ourselves by having a chapel internally, instead we go to our client’s church or other venue and bring the service to them.”

Located inside an attractive, modern glass fronted corner location at Dunbar Street and West 18th Avenue, Martin Brothers opened in August 2013. “Martin Brothers has been well accepted and people are pleasantly surprised when they walk through the door,” Martell says. The staff throws open the glass doors as often as possible to remove the mystery of funeral services. Martin Brothers staff is pleased by how welcoming the community has been.

How did a Lethbridge based funeral provider open a location on Dunbar Street? Dale Martin Jr. was educated on Vancouver Island and his family spent much of their time in Vancouver.

He was aware a funeral provider was not serving Dunbar and expanding to Vancouver was a natural fit for his family business. They were convinced Martin Brothers’ services would be of value to Dunbar’s established, multi-generational population.

Martin_Brothers_Funeral_Dunbar_Life_Palla_Media_Valerie_MartellMartell has been with Martin Brothers for eight years. Three years ago she came from Lethbridge to launch the Dunbar location. Vancouver is now her home, although she returns to her native Alberta as often as possible.

She meets all of the families who pay Martin Brothers a visit and she is also an embalmer. One doesn’t often meet a funeral director and questions inevitably arise in social situations. She is happy to shatter stereotypes and educate people about the importance of this job. She says there are not enough people going into this profession yet it is an essential service and she encourages people to explore it.

When Martell was a preschooler her aunt died and she recalls caring deeply. At the viewing she wanted to adjust the sleeve on her aunt’s dress to make her look perfect. With this innate attention for fine details and no fear of death, she knew she wanted to be a funeral professional but it was unheard of for a woman to consider this career option. She came to the job later in life as a second career after going back to funeral service school for two years.

Interestingly, career aptitude tests indicated she was best suited for a career as a funeral director or a comedian (even though she says she isn’t funny, she really is).

A death can leave family members shocked and reeling. This is where Martin Brothers staff is at their best. As professionals they step in and plan a full service. They have the connections to pull it all together – from arranging an emcee and musicians to catering and flower arrangements, all of the details are left in their capable hands so that you and your family are able to pause and reflect on the person you lost. They know the value of this.

Martin Brothers discovers what is important to the family and works with their style and budget. They can help determine if you would like a public reception and a second reception at home.

Pre-planning a funeral is always an option and it makes it easier when a loved one’s wishes are set down in advance. Some people even choose to prepay and the payment is held in an insurance policy. The amount is guaranteed at today’s rate, so even if a death occurs many years from now the price is fixed.

Unique to this funeral provider is the opportunity to book a ceremony at sea to scatter ashes from Martin Brothers privately owned 70-foot yacht, the Pacific Ceremony. They will take friends and family out to English Bay where your loved one’s ashes will be gently scattered. The GPS location will be marked so if you ever visit that spot again you will know where your loved one was put to rest.

Martin_Brothers_Funeral_Dunbar_Life_Palla_Media_urnWatch the beautiful ceremony at sea video on Martin Brothers website. It is extremely moving to witness passengers simultaneously release white balloons from the back of the yacht (and a little hard not to shed a tear). It is those moments of beauty that will be remembered in years to come.

What is most fulfilling about her line of work? Martel says, “I am amazed at the number of gracious people I encounter in my profession.” It warms her heart that people share their gratitude when that they should be devoting their energy to care for themselves. She remarks, “I see the goodness in people and it surprises me every day.”

Martin Brothers is dedicated to making things easier for people by providing comfort in death by being honest, authentic and approachable. At the end of the day these trained funeral professionals are able to take the worry out of a family’s hands and offer a beautiful and meaningful service so you can celebrate a life well lived.

Martin Brothers Funeral Services
3398 Dunbar Street
Vancouver BC V6S 2C1
Telephone 778-330-7799