Monday, September 28, 2009

Irresponsible dribble

CNN reported today ( that a recent US survey indicates that only 40% of respondents would consider having their children get the H1N1 vaccine. They then go on to say that since April 2009 56 children have died of swine flu, obviously using statistics for dramatic effect.

What CNN omits to mention is that two thirds of the children had pre-existing serious medical disorders (e.g. asthma, cerebral palsy).

It's no wonder people are so confused about what to do. The media is just adding to the confusion.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Marathon Finished!

Event: 2009 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Chip Time : 4:41:23.2

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Support me in the JDRF ride

Everyone wants to believe they can make a difference in the world, and there are many worthy ways to contribute to bettering people’s lives. I have chosen to continue supporting Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation by participating in the Ride for Diabetes Research being held at City Hall on September 25th, 2009 . My colleagues at Scotiabank and I will be competing against each other to see who can raise the most money and pedal the most kilometers. This is an amazing event that brings together competitors from many different industries for one day to raise money to fund research to find a cure for type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes strikes children suddenly, making them dependent on injected or pumped insulin for life, and carries the constant threat of devastating complications. Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is currently funding over 40 human clinical trials – testing drug therapies and cures in people – that is the most ever for diabetes. Testing treatments and therapeutics in people is a clear indication that the pace of research leading to a cure is accelerating. You can help my team reach our goal by pledging me online at: Thank you so much in advance for your generosity. Sincere thanks, Wallace Wong

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Telus and Black's Part 2

Further to my previous post about the odd marriage between Telus and Black's there are a couple of practical reasons why this partnership is awkward.

First, everyone hates the phone and cable companies. There is no question that Bell, Rogers and Telus dominate the field, especially in central Canada. And it's quite evident from what's written on the internet that consumers aren't happy with anyone of them, either because of price gouging or poor customer service. Two bad qualities which are not compatible with successful retailing. So the question is, what is Black Photo management thinking by associating themselves with such infamy? (Probably no choice anyways). A mojority of photo consumers will shop elsewhere just to avoid supporting Big-Telephone.

Secondly, the process of signing a cell customer is totally different than photo retailing. People who shop at Black's want quick service. For example, drop off film, pick up photofinishing, buy a gift etc. It's already an annoying and common practice to stand in teller-like lines for service at Black's. Signing a cell customer takes at least half an hour, and that means taking a someone off the floor for that amount of time, thereby further increasing the queue. And it's unlikely that there would be dedicated staff to handle cellular products.

Should be interesting.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Telus buys Black's Photo

Canadian cell phone giant Telus aquires Canadian photo retailer Black's. It's a very odd marriage.

I worked for Black's during my highschool and university days, it was great experience for later things in life. I worked in a number of areas; from the photo lab, retail assitant manager, then in the head office MIS department. So I had a pretty good idea of how the company ran and even met some of the original Black's familiy when they still ran it.

I was fortunate to work in a number of flagship stores: Yonge & St. Clair (Original Store), TD Center (flagship concept location), Toronto Eaton Center, Yonge and Bloor to name a few. Black's was also famous worldwide, celebrities like Annie Lennox and Elton John would stop by. Alot of times you'd develop a friendly relationship to repeat customers, some you'd see a couple times a week.

In it's heyday the iconic commercials on TV and radio played the catchy tune, "Black's is photography". Comedian Martin Short was used in a number of TV spots, usually around Christmas time. I can't recall the last time I heard or saw a Black's commerical.

And who could forget the vinyl cooler bags. The Yellow or Silver bags given out during the summer promotions could be seen around the world by Canadians travelling abroad.

Black's was a pioneer in developing infrastructure to recycle waste water and chemistry from the photofinishing process, known as System Crystal. They were thinking green before Al Gore knew what carbon was. But Black's was eventually sold off to a number of companies like Scott's Hospitality (KFC) and later Fuji. It's changed hands at least a few more times.

In terms of profitability highest margins came from photofinishing and accessories, e.g. frames and camera accessories. Camera's and camcorders themselves were not money makers. In fact I recall discounting some in order to keep the customer from going elsewhere.

The digital age has all but decimated the traditional photo retailer. Camera's can be bought like calculators as Best Buy and Staples. You no longer need the expertise of someone behind the counter who happens to also be a photo-enthusiast. People don't print off 24 or 36 shots anymore, they pick and choose from the comfort of their own home. It's all quite sad actually but that's technology for you.

So when Telus said today that there was a synergy to be had from combining cell phone, video and media; I'm not sure who sold the M&A guy at Telus the Koolaid but it really doesn't make any sense any way you look at it. In reality all Telus bought was $25million bucks of retail space, most likely playing catchup to Bell buying The Source a few months back. I can't foresee alot of people buying a cell phone at a camera store.

Thanks again to capitalism for adding more gray to an already bland retail landscape.