Meet the Marshalls, our new Canadian Tire owners

Canadian Tire in Leaside. Photo Glenn Asano.
Canadian Tire in Leaside. Photo Glenn Asano.

After nearly two decades, Jeff and Andrea Marshall, along with their two teenage children (Hope and John), can truly say they are finally home. As the new owners of the Canadian Tire store at Eglinton and Laird, their journey back comes after initially jumping at the opportunity to operate their very first store in Saskatchewan. Jeff recounted the rigorous selection process, highlighting the competitiveness that saw 1,500 applicants vying for just 15 available spots that year, with the corporation overseeing store transfers from owner to owner. When you get your first store, the location is dictated to you, and you’re either in or out. From Saskatchewan, it was on to CT in Prince Edward County, then Muskoka and from there Bolton. “Once you own a store it’s your choice to keep the store or put it ‘back into the pool’. We knew we wanted to get back into the GTA; that was the end goal. So, we just kept moving and making changes,” said Jeff. Their perseverance finally paid off. On March 17, amid the Covid pandemic in 2021, they assumed ownership of the Leaside Centre store, a mere 10 minutes from their home in Toronto.

When will the new Canadian Tire open?

I was excited to learn. … when would the new Canadian Tire store in Leaside open its doors for business? For those unacquainted with the development plan for the parcels of land at 70 and 80 Wicksteed Ave., 202-206 Parkhurst Blvd. and 99 Vanderhoof Ave., developer SmartCentres REIT will build four new buildings on the site with a total gross floor area of 19,995 sq. ft. The largest of the four buildings will become the new home for the 115 employees in Leaside, heralding the reintegration of the currently separated “showroom” with the main store. Understandably, the Marshalls refrained from providing a definitive timeline for the development’s completion. However, there is one thing that’s certain: Jeff and Andrea are not quite done moving just yet, and they told me they are “just as excited as many of us to actually see the new space!”

In the meantime, while we all wait, these seasoned executives – Andrea, a former marketing agency owner, and Jeff, a veteran of Bay Street – remain committed to building their business. Their enthusiasm and pride shone through as they recounted successfully reenlisting a skilled, highly regarded service manager (a Leasider, no less!), and shared their efforts in championing local charitable causes, particularly those focused on aiding children. Notably, they are strong supporters of the Leaside Toy Drive, which distributed over 6,000 toys in 2023. They are the lead sponsors for Amici Children’s Camp Charity (Canoe Heads for Kids), where Jeff serves on the board. Amici facilitates annual summer camp experiences in Ontario for 700 children from lower-income families. They’ve collaborated with local police and the Jumpstart Foundation to enhance ice hockey accessibility in Thorncliffe and Flemingdon Parks, and they also lend support to children with special needs through the Thorncliffe Park Autism Support Network.

The Canadian Tire Showroom in Leaside. Photo Glenn Asano.
The Canadian Tire Showroom in Leaside. Photo Glenn Asano.

Shopping local: a powerful way to invest at home

Despite Covid, the Marshalls have worked to connect with and support the local community, making an immediate impact. In fact, they are the only large-format retailer operating in the Leaside Business Park I am aware of that is an active member of the Leaside Business Park Association, forging direct connections with fellow local entrepreneurs, businesspeople, and their enterprises. Though seemingly counterintuitive, the notion that a corporation boasting $16.5 billion in revenue in 2022 can “act local” is not lost. Canadian Tire’s distinctive business model – where each dealer assumes ownership of store fixtures, equipment, and inventory, affording autonomy in overseeing finances, staff, and product selection – empowers individual stores to tailor their offerings to better resonate with the character and culture of their communities. Andrea cited a few examples where they adjust accordingly: the Leaside store ranks fourth in Canada for hockey equipment sales; we Leasiders apparently appreciate a different selection of BBQs from other customers; and of course, the pet department grew “enormously” during the pandemic.

Overall, most Leasiders recognize the value of shopping locally as a powerful way to invest in the prosperity, resilience, and identity of our community. It’s a virtuous circle, where one desirable occurrence leads to another, which further promotes the first, and so on. Local businesses reciprocate by sponsoring our events, sports teams, and charities while actively participating in local community initiatives. It’s imperative that we all continue to champion the businesses that support Leaside through our patronage, and to let them know how much their support is appreciated. By voting with our wallets, we just might inspire further action. Sometimes, even virtuous circles need a gentle nudge to set them in motion.

Fun fact: Did you know that Canadian Tire’s Roller Labs Ventures provides early-stage investments in strategically aligned companies? The name honours Canadian Tire’s founders AJ and JW Billes, who, in 1937, saw an opportunity to reduce customer wait times by outfitting clerks with roller skates. Soon, the efficiency spread, and even warehouse workers were rolling in the aisles.

Which local businesses do you think are doing a good job engaging our community? Let us know at .

About Glenn Asano 58 Articles
Leasider Glenn Asano is a partner and principal consultant for the strategy and business development practice at Centred Performance. He is also an Instructor with the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University.