The owner of a Montreal toy store has been fined thousands of people for exceeding operating hours.
“When we got the ticket, it was the worst harrowing experience we’ve ever had in our lives,” said Yannis Felemegos, owner of Jouets LOL Toys located in Parc-Extension.
Last winter, in February 2020, an inspector from the Quebec Ministry of Economy and Innovation stopped by the store without warning.
Later in the year, Felemegos was fined $ 2,250 by mail for operating his store after 5 pm, contrary to a provincial law that regulates the hours of operation of commercial establishments.
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“I want both levels of government, municipal and provincial, to look very closely at the contributions that small businesses have made over the years,” said Felemegos.
The family business is scheduled to appear in court on October 12, 2021 to challenge the fine.
“Even if we lose, the situation has to change: small businesses cannot continue to survive when we are waging some kind of war to talk to our competitors,” Felemegos said.
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As a small retail store, the Felemegos toy store is already struggling to compete with large stores and other corporations that also sell online. He adds that the provincial law is decades old and should provide more flexibility for small businesses struggling to recover from the pandemic.
Jouets LOL Toys also offers art classes and toys for children with special needs as they can be used for educational purposes. However, due to strict opening and closing hours, Felemegos cannot keep these classes, as they do not adhere to the hours established by the government.
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“We also have master’s students who come to our store, analyze our toys and learn from here,” said Julie Drakoulakou, who has a background in occupational therapy. “We try to teach children to use their fine motor (skills) and to play with their hands, and to stimulate their development.”
The small business will face the courts tomorrow in hopes of making a change.
The Quebec Ministry of the Economy and the mayor’s cabinet did not respond to our request for comment.
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