Storefront 12/06/07

If the world gives you sawdust... Manager of Classic Woodwork Ltd., Dean Gosse, pictured with their new briquette machine.

Wherein Emilie Bourque watches folks turn sawdust into burnable, gold bricks.

Reduce, reuse, reheat?
After a Scopefan noticed a compressed brick made of recycled wood bits at a friend’s house, he tipped me (thanks Dad!) to investigate. Turns out they’re ‘Manufactured Right Here’ by Classic Woodwork Ltd., a custom millwork business in St. Anne’s Industrial Park, Paradise. Manager Dean Gosse explains that it was their answer to what used to be an enormous amount of waste.

“We ran into a problem trying to get rid of our wood shavings, sawdust, and scrap wood,” he says.

“Two years ago we sent three full [dumpsters] down to the landfill, so we said ‘there’s got to be a better way to do this!’”

After a little digging, they located a German company, Ruf, which makes machines for converting all kinds of organic and inorganic waste materials into compressed bricks for recycled use. In the case of compressed sawdust and waste-wood bricks, they found they can be burned just like logs in fireplaces, wood furnaces, and wood stoves.

Classic’s ‘briquette machine’—the first one imported to Atlantic Canada—is now a major part of their operation.

“It takes all the sawdust from our dust system, it fills up a hopper, then automatically turns on and starts making these bricks.” It uses no glue, wax, or any adhesive for binding. It’s hydraulic pressure alone holding the bricks together—massive amounts of it.

Although Classic Woodwork bought the machine privately, they say they want to keep the briquette prices low to keep moving them out, and keep simply recovering the cost of labour and materials for bagging them up.

Gosse says the cost of the project was a small price to pay for the health of the environment, and that profit wasn’t what they were after, just a way to reduce their waste. And at $3.40 for a bag of 20 briquettes, he means it.

If you’re interested to read more about the briquette machines, or to watch a video of them in action, visit the Ruf website at

Hm… maybe I’ll get one and hook it up to my dryer so I can make lint bricks…

Dollars and Sense
With the Canadian loonie neck-and-neck with the US buck, pressure is growing for Canadian businesses to reduce prices to match the parity. This is happening especially in book and magazine shops, where the US price is listed alongside the Canadian one.

Robert Hong, owner of Timemasters Inc., says this pressure is a little premature. Reducing prices to match large fluctuations in currency takes buying power that small businesses don’t have.

Hong, who is also an economic historian, says it’s not as if books and magazines are printed the day before we buy them. With a floating rate of exchange, combined with our techno-speed-world and the influence of currency speculators, currency rates are set and changed rapidly—“with a keystroke,” he says.

“Few people actually understand the lean and the lag time between what is the production of a good and the actual time it takes for it to be in front of you so that you can purchase it.”

He says you have to think about warehouses, and stockpiles of goods. “You have what are essentially dollars that were spent months and months ago—in the case of distributors and agents—whereas currency is at real time,” he says.

Nonetheless, local bookstores are standing up to take the hit.

Timemasters changed over to US prices over a month ago on newer stuff, and on older stuff, they are offering discounts. This is similar to bookstores like Bennington Gate and Chapters, which are offering special in-store sales. Coles has switched to US prices on books that were sold to them at more recent US prices, and Granny Bates is offering 20% off books with dual prices listed on the back.

Can I have a Dirty Grasshopper?
Coffee Matters will have a twin shop soon, and it will be even closer to the downtown core. Coffee Matters Too is slated to open mid-December, located at 320 Water St., in between The Tickle Trunk and Irene’s. In the city’s ever-increasing coffee shop frenzy, are you wondering if there’s anything special about this one? Well, Scott Hillyer, Director of Operations, says they will have a liquor license at their new location, which means liqueur-based specialty coffees.

That’s what I’m talkin’ about…

Beers + Rooms
Speaking of unusual locations to consume alcohol—you will soon have a chance to enjoy a pint of beer at an exhibit in The Rooms. Theo Sims, an English-born artist based in Canada, is coming here with his transportable bar: ‘The Candahar’. It’s named after a street in Belfast, and it’s basically a fully functioning traditional Irish pub, set up in one of their exhibit spaces. The exhibit deals with themes of community, and all elements of a pub experience. To add to the contrast between fiction and fact, there will even be an authentic Irish barman present (for the most part) in the pub, and he’ll be serving up drinks on certain Thursday evenings throughout the time the exhibit is here. This peculiar art experience opens on Wednesday, December 12th at 7:30pm.

Wrap it up
While pondering whether or not I had time to learn how to make chocolates before Christmas (and deciding ‘no’), I came across Cho-co-lat-ta-tae (a.k.a. the talented local chocolatier Erica Halliday). Turns out she’ll make me delicacies ranging from miniature chocolate Buddhas filled with gooey coconut or peanut butter (!) to solid nibbles like “moxi”, a warm and spicy Mayan-inspired combination. For more info on these treats:

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