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Ontario toy store fighting to keep open amidst COVID restrictions

A small Ontario toy business has been in revolt against the Ford government lockdown measures.

Derrick Noble, owner of Bolton’s Nobletoyz, a toy store that has been in business for four years, is planning to defy provincial COVID-19 lockdown orders by re-opening Saturday.

While Noble fully agrees with measures to contain COVID-19, he believes it shouldn’t be at the expense of local business owners counting on a busy Christmas season to offset what’s been a terrible year.

In a recent Toronto Sun interview, Noble mentioned he is not doing this in conjunction with Adam Skelly, the owner of Adamson BBQ, who similarly defied the lockdown measures a few weeks ago.

“Anybody who comes in is expected to wear a mask,” Noble said.

Caledon, which is included in the region of Peel’s provincial lockdown, constitutes a very small part of the region’s COVID-19 infections.

In the “grey” zone, only businesses deemed essential are permitted to have in-person customers. The rest are restricted to curbside or delivery only.

It has meant bigger retailers–such as Wal-Mart and Costco–are permitted to have customers in the stores whereas small businesses like Nobeltoyz are not.

“How come they don’t have a problem with a thousand people in Costco, but there’s a problem with a toy store letting six people at a time in?” he asked. “You can go five minutes from where my store is, walk into Walmart and buy what I’m selling.”

Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson said the regional council unanimously passed a motion Nov. 26 urging the province to address the disparity between the big box stores and small businesses in Peel like Nobeltoyz.

To help local businesses navigate the ever-changing rules and access provincial and federal economic support, the town is setting up a Town Hall with MPP Sylvia Jones and MP Kyle Seeback “as soon possible,” Thompson said.

The support Noble has received from the community has been “mind-blowing,” he said. He’s hoping Saturday will be peaceful.

“Please do not come if you plan on making a scene,” Noble said.

Noble also noted that come Saturday, the store will have hand sanitizer set up in multiple areas and that masks will remain mandatory.

“I speak from the heart, always. I love my community,” he said. “I’m not sleeping, I’m nervous, I’m scared, but I’m super excited to try and deem our business and other local small businesses essential.”

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