The year began on a low note for Ottawa’s retail community as Elgin Sports ended its seven-decade run in the city. Once a thriving franchise with seven locations and roughly 100 employees, owner Karl Kofmel told OBJ that he made the call to close up shop in February after facing rising pressures from online retailers.
It’s a reflection of the pressures facing many brick-and-mortar retailers in Ottawa and around the world. Ian Lee, professor with the Sprott School of Business, says that small, independent stores like Elgin Sports will continue to “vanish,” going the way of video rentals.
“The world of retail is changing; the landscape is changing … I think there’s still a lot of changes to come, too,” Mr. Kofmel told OBJ.
It was a back-to-back win for Ottawa’s Fullscript, as the online platform for natural health products was again named OBJ’s fastest-growing company. From 2014 to 2016, the firm achieved revenue growth of 3,128.6 per cent.
Co-founder and CEO Kyle Braatz says the firm isn’t going to take its foot off the pedal anytime soon, as he sees the health-care industry moving rapidly towards preventative solutions associated with lifestyle choice and supplements.
“I think the sky’s the limit when it comes to the market that we’re playing in, the problem we’re trying to solve,” Mr. Braatz told OBJ.
Few other local residents could’ve played the role of hype man for Canada’s big year better than Guy Laflamme. Throughout the year, Ottawa 2017’s executive director was spreading the capital spirit at marquee local events celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation – most of which he had a hand in planning.
Among those events was this summer’s $4-million Kontinuum light and sound show put on by Moment Factory. The firm’s co-founder Sakchin Bessette told OBJ that the ambitious exhibit showed something special to Ottawa tourists and residents alike.
“It’s hard to say no when someone like Guy Laflamme comes to you and says, ‘Hey guys, you want to pitch on this project where we’re going to take an LRT tunnel and transform it into a completely new experience?’” Mr. Bessette said. “What we do is create entertainment that brings people together.”
In August OBJ sat down for a Q&A with the man who this year, after working at Kanata’s Brookstreet Hotel since it opened in 2003, took the reins of the four-diamond resort. Nyle Kelly talked about his future plans for the property, including its growing leisure business segment and coming expansions to its meeting space.
Mr. Kelly says he sees a trend towards conference-based business in the hospitality industry, as well as a shift towards value-conscious customers that he says will end up paying more for a better package.
On a personal level, he says the Brookstreet has always rewarded his loyalty and invested in him, allowing him to bolster his career with a master’s degree, for example. Now in the GM’s suite, Mr. Kelly feels like he’s “at the start again,” with a number of exciting years ahead for the Kanata hotel.
This fall, OBJ columnist Bruce Firestone sat down for an interview with Ottawa’s new head of planning and economic development to get his honest take on how the city can improve its development strategies.
Steve Willis told Mr. Firestone that at the next review of the city’s official plan (slated for 2022), he’s hoping to take a more nuanced view of how to best build neighbourhoods – doing away with the one-size-fits-all attitude in exchange for a “common sense” approach. Delegated authority at City Hall could help residents and developers hurdle over obstacles that, realistically, shouldn’t apply to every minor variance.
He added that developing walkable, mixed-use communities will have a substantial impact on the city’s economy and provide quality jobs for residents.