Business / Perth / Shops / Smiths Falls / Technology / The Wedge

Visionary Retailers in Smiths Falls and Perth Who Will Survive

L – R : Brooke Henderson, John Wakim, Owner, Marianne’s Style, Brittany Henderson

By MAGGIE M, Wedgee-in-Chief, Editor, theWedge.LIVE 👗 TO SHARE click icons at story’s end. TO SUBSCRIBE go to upper-right column. TO COMMENT go to upper-right text link

I am thrilled by the success of this 31 year-old retail store in Smiths Falls, Marianne Style!

I asked owner, John Wakim today, “Can you handle any more business?” I got a resounding, “NO!”

Marianne Style, retail store, Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada PHOTO BY theWedge.LIVE

The shop caters to women, especially those who have a proclivity for highly-sought brands, Frank Lyman Design, Jane and John and Tricotto. But not all their customers have been in the store.

They know the brands, they know the store and they know John Wakin–virtually.

Its storefront at 45 Beckwith Street North represents a small fraction of his customer reach.

The shop is a “mini-Amazon” so-to-speak. Packing boxes are within sight when you visit–ready to ship-out orders received from its on-line version of Marianne Style!

The renown Henderson sisters (shown above) are customers too. This says a lot about the Marianne Style! brand.

Wakim has wacked the ball and hit a hole-in-one by taking Marianne on-line years ago. If no one entered his store it would make little difference to his bottom line, he had intimated to me awhile back. Nevertheless, his store is well appointed and the windows, gaze-worthy.

I’ve been searching for local retailers who are ahead of the herd–let me correct myself–who are where they should be this 2018. I have found few–almost none–who can complete a sale on-line. I have not met everyone, but it is mathematically improbable that local businesses are up-to-date and impervious to a real, immediate threat to their longevity.

“I’m not good with that computer stuff,” more or less is the chorus. I want to slap myself on the forehead–twice.

This is alarming. To survive the assault on local businesses from Amazon going live in Ottawa in Fall 2019, all local businesses must snap out of their procrastination and “everything will be ok” mindset.


Dan and Wanita Andress, pick and pack on-line order into green bins, in their store’s new on-line service, Andress Your Independent Grocer, Smiths Falls, Ontario PHOTO BY theWedge.LIVE

Loblaw retail brands have been moving quickly to activate on-line sales in the last few years–they were late to the race (so was WalMart).

The launch of PC Express at Andress Your Independent Grocer in Smiths Falls was anathema to their daily grind, but they came through it well. We were there to capture their first sale this summer. It was a big deal. There was cake.

Little did they realize this will secure their future.

Today, the store is settled-in with five employees teamed up to serve their on-line customers who drive up continuously. The demand has grown to the point where they need to expand further.

I interviewed Matthew Barnabe, owner of Barnabe Your Independent Grocer in Perth today. His store added on-line service about one month after Andress.

“Things are going very well. The customers love the service. Mostly the working mom. You don’t have to bring the kids in the store. And you don’t have to leave your dog in the car in those hot summer days,” glowed Barnabe about the service.

I have watched the staff run out to customers’ cars at Andress with their order immediately on arrival. It’s impressive. This is progress.


The public is ready for on-line shopping. This does not threaten bricks and mortar shops–it merely increases their sales per square foot and adds pick-and-pack to their routine.

For many businesses drop-shipping will add new, highly profitable revenue. Some businesses are entirely drop-shipped. It’s a new day.

Think the public is not ahead of you and to boot, waiting for you? Read on.

The current municipal elections showed a higher voter turnout thanks to on-line voting. The public is already on-line.

Smiths Falls Director or Corporate Services and Clerk, Kerry Costello, reviewed the numbers with me today. In the Township of Drummond-Elmsley, traditional voting was employed during both 2014 and 2018 elections; the turnout was shocking at 34.7% and 20.8% respectively. Internet voting was not available, likely causing the drop.

In Smiths Falls, over 2,000 voted on-line out of 3,234. That’s about 62% of voter turnout! Paper ballots and phone voting were also offered; so, no method encroached on voter turnout. This was a wise strategy and surely engaged new incremental voters.

My point is, the public is primed to work, shop, vote on-line. The future is not coming. It’s already here. Yet, finding a local shop on-line is like finding a nano particle in a haystack.

Screen Shot 2018-10-28 at 5.18.52 PM

Current Stats : Executive Summary by eMarketer

There is a demand and when that demand is not met, they will shop at U.S. originating behemoths–and send those profits south.

It is pure insanity to lose these sales. Every day. Every hour. Every minute.


Fall 2019 Amazon goes live from its Ottawa East warehouse. Almost all business categories are at risk–from shoes to nuts.

If businesses delay adding on-line shopping to their websites, they will not survive. The “Amazon effect” in U.S. is a common idiom. Sears just went down–the latest after a litany of failures.

None of us wish to be forced to buy from Amazon because everyone else did not take them seriously. Take Jeff Bezos seriously. The man is determined to be in every space possible including space.

Amazon is in the service business now, music, games and movies. Capice?

They are even pursuing the artisan dollar. So while you think ‘one-ofs’ won’t be affected, you would be wrong. Artisans are manufacturers and Bezos wants to be these makers’ sales channel.


  1. Local businesses must do what Amazon cannot do (Amazon is not God). Do it well. Do it big. Hint: it involves humans.
  2. Start building your on-line store now. Not next year. Now.
  3. Ask yourself, if you don’t take these two steps now, will you survive?


We can’t sit idly by and watch businesses self-destruct. Sorry, but we love you too much. The smaller, more vulnerable, more local, the more we love you.

So we’re diving in to help business. We know fear of the unknown is the main obstacle. Don’t fear the change. It’s not hard. And it won’t break the bank.

Imagine sales growing in your bank account while you sleep. That’s e-commerce 24/7.

So the wedge is adding a new service to our media presence. Helping businesses get on-line with their stores. Setting up your on-line aisles, shelves, carts and cash-out for you–aesthetically, elegantly. Copy, graphics, photos–we’re old hat at that.

Realize facebook posts are time consuming and contribute almost zilch to the bottom line. Especially, when your viewers can’t make a purchase unless they get dressed, put on their face and drive to your store before it closes. We call that “friction” in the tech world.

Plus, there is little value in a ‘like’. It feels good for a moment. Nice hit of dopamine. That’s all. No revenue.

Let us know if you want to survive the second assault on Main Street. The first was WalMart and its carnage is almost incalculable. Amazon is a bigger threat–exponentially.

I hazard to imagine a future with only parks, pedestrians and people ordering Amazon products on Amazon devices with a latin female name by voice command. And robots serving dishes made by robots in a few ro-bistros. That’s already in the plans.


Reach out to us on our contact page and we will respond in 24 hours.

This division is called “Wedge Works.” Tab going live above this weekend. We are in development.

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