A Montreal toy store owner has been fined thousands for surpassing operating hours.
“When we received the fine, it was the worst gut-wrenching experience we ever had in our lives,” said Yannis Felemegos, owner of Jouets LOL Toys located in Parc-Extension.
Last winter, in Febraury 2020, an inspector from Quebec’s Ministry of Economy and Innovation dropped by the store unannounced.
Later in the year, Felemegos received a $2,250 fine in the mail for operating his store past 5 p.m., going against a provincial law governing the operating hours of commercial establishments.
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“I wish that both levels of governments, municipal and provincial, take a very close look at the contributions that small businesses have given over the years,” said Felemegos.
The family-run business is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 12, 2021, to contest the fine.
“Even if we lose, the situation has to change — small businesses cannot continue to survive when we are fighting a war sort to speak with our competitors,” said Felemegos.
As a small retail store, Felemegos’s toy shop is already struggling to compete with big stores and other corporations that also sell online. He adds that the provincial law is decades old and should afford more flexibility to small businesses as they struggle 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, because of the strict opening and closing hours, Felemegos can’t keep these classes going, as they do not fit the operating hours set by the government.
“We also have master students coming to our store, analyzing our toys and learning from here,” said Julie Drakoulakou, who has a background in occupational therapy. “We try to teach children how to use their fine motor (skills) and to play things with their hands, and to stimulate their development.”
The small business is facing court tomorrow in hopes of making a change.
Quebec’s economy ministry and mayor’s cabinet did not respond to our request for comment.
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