Archive for January, 2013

Budget Appliances – Your One Stop Appliance Shop

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

Have you ever dreamed of a self-cleaning oven that does not use high heat, or force you to throw open all of the windows in mid-winter due to the fumes? Would you like a high efficiency washer that helps keep your clothes smelling fresh and wrinkle-free even if you forget to empty the machine? Have you longed for a refrigerator with fashionable French doors that will fit into your condo’s kitchen? These are three examples of advancements in technology that Andrew Floreano, general manager of Budget Appliances Ltd., indicates are new and exciting in the appliance industry.

Andrew Floreano’s father Gino Floreano has a long history in the appliance business. He established his first Budget Appliances store in Surrey in 1977, and it is still going strong. When the opportunity presented itself last year to open a second location in Steveston (not to be confused with the former Budget Appliance Centre) the Floreanos jumped at the opportunity. 

Budget Appliances is very much a family owned and operated business. Both of Andrew Floreano’s parents, along with his wife and his sister are also actively involved in different capacities that include sales, bookkeeping and accounting. Andrew Floreano grew up knowing that one day he would work with the family business. After high school he attended BCIT where he studied small business management, and began working at the Surrey location in 1996.

The Floreano family is very excited to be part of the community and is quickly planting roots. The business immediately joined the Steveston Merchants Association. They did a major renovation of the interior of the shop and have left it looking spic and span. One of the interior posts has been decorated in nautical rope with more plans ahead for seaside artwork to adorn the walls. Andrew Floreano is highly aware that Stevestonites are loyal to the village and many of us choose to shop locally. He is eager to develop relationships with customers and fellow merchants. He believes that owning a business in a small community holds his shop accountable to provide quality products and excellent customer service. He and his staff are committed to working closely with customers to determine what appliance features best suit their needs. If you are in the market for a new appliance it is worth considering Budget Appliances. With two store fronts they have considerable buying power and are able to offer competitive prices.

Fridges, freezers, ranges and range hoods, washers, dryers, dishwashers are all available at Budget Appliances, and the Floreanos pride themselves on being a one stop appliance shop. The primary brands sold include Whirlpool, Maytag and KitchenAid, in addition to some Frigidaire and General Electric appliances. They carry both new and rebuilt products; they sell parts and provide repair service all under one roof.  New scratch and dent units are also available at a reduced price with a full warranty.

There are two factory trained technicians that are capable of servicing appliances, whether or not you purchased them from Budget Appliances. Delivery and set up is part of the service offered in conjunction with the removal of the appliance(s) being replaced.







As for the dream appliances listed above, Whirlpool makes the new Aqualift Self-Clean Technology range, available both in gas and electric models, which does not emit fumes. It uses a combination of water and low heat to release baked on food from the oven. Whirlpool is also responsible for the FanFresh feature on the Duet front loading washing machine which intermittently tumbles clothes in the wash drum after the cycle ends for up to 16 hours, with a quiet fan drawing out moisture to keep clothes smelling fresh.  Maytag’s 30″ French door refrigerators complement small spaces, pre-existing kitchen fixtures, and condo living so you too can enjoy one of the most popular styles of fridges on the market.

Besides the great selection and competitive prices, what is most attractive about this new Steveston business? There is no commission sales staff hovering around pressuring you to buy. As Floreano says, Budget Appliances is accountable to shoppers in our community, and he and his staff are here to best meet the needs of their customers. It is a simple and old-fashioned approach to sales which deserves a round of applause.
3831 Moncton Street

Boston Bound Bayers Sisters

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

Next month marks an exciting accomplish-ment for Steveston’s Irish dancing sisters Sydney (10) and Olivia (12) Bayers. Last November they both qualified at the Western Canada Regionals in Calgary, and will soon be heading to the 2013 World Irish Dancing Championships in Boston. Remarkably, they only began Irish dancing two years ago with the Nora Pickett Irish Dance Academy in Richmond. 

Olivia Bayers qualified for group dance, and Sydney qualified for both solo and group dance.  In total 14 students from Nora Pickett’s Richmond school qualified (her North Vancouver academy is also sending dancers to the competition). A feather in Nora Pickett’s cap, the Richmond school only began offering group dance in September and is already sending students to the Worlds.

The Worlds takes place March 24 – 31. Competitors come from around the globe to participate in this prestigious event which does not offer prize money, yet provides an incredible sense of accomplishment and prestige to have ranked amongst the best in Irish dance.

Irish dance was popularized in the mid-1990s when American Michael Flatley’s stage show Riverdance became a global sensation. The dance style is recognizable by its rapid leg and foot movements, while maintaining a largely stationary upper body. In addition, the female costume is recognizable by its ornate dresses and long ringlet wigs adorned with tiaras.

This very technical dance style requires a high level of fitness and stamina. The Bayers sisters cross-train at a local gym, and are preparing for the Vancouver Sun Run to increase their endurance. The girls make huge sacrifices such as foregoing social events to get their rest and avoid getting sick. While they normally dance three days a week, they will increase their practices to five days per week leading up to the Worlds. The sisters are very athletic and enjoy many sports. In addition, they play instruments, were previously involved in Brownies and Girl Guides, and they do well at school.

Olivia Bayers attests to the magnetic appeal of Irish dance. “Irish dance is my passion. I love it and it has become a huge part of my life. When I started Irish dancing I wanted to dance all the time. My goal was to get to the championship level quickly because my best friend, Jessie, was at that level when I joined, and I wanted to be in the same classes. That was my biggest motivation. I also begged my mom to take me to all the competitions within driving distance. We’ve been to Portland, Seattle, and Victoria. The more I competed, the more I advanced. ”

While it is an expensive sport with the costumes, wigs and travel involvement, the Bayers sisters are learning great life lessons through dance. Dancing on stage in front of thousands of people builds great confidence.

Competing at this level you learn about determination, hard work and sacrifice, team spirit, sportsmanship, and how to deal with defeat.

Sydney Bayers is a perfect example of such determination. She is nursing a broken foot which happened during a competition in December (where she still managed to place 4th), and she continues to gear up for the Worlds. “Like most Irish dancers, my goal was to qualify for the World Championships; however, I wasn’t expecting to qualify so soon. I am nervous, considering that I have a broken foot and I feel that I won’t be ready to dance my best. Out of all the sports that I have ever done, Irish dance is by far the best. My favourite part is getting up on the big stage and showing the audience what I can do. When I started dancing I wanted to be as good as my friend Jaydn. I practice a lot and dance everywhere from the grocery store to the schoolyard and sidewalks. My mom says that it sounds like the ceiling in our house will come crashing down.”

The girls understand how expensive this sport is and are trying to help with the costs by fundraising through monthly bottle drives, and participating in group fundraisers with other dancers and their families who are attending the Worlds.

What will a day at the Worlds look like for the Bayers sisters? There will be as many as 6,000 competitors in attendance. Nora Pickett Irish Dance Academy will hold practices every day for the ceili (group) and solo dancers. There will be three or four stages running almost all the time with ceili, solo and figure dancing.  Instructors Nora Pickett and Courtney Rose will prepare costume items, last minute touch-ups on hair, warm up the dancers and support them each morning that they compete.  Nerves can run very high at the Worlds and the instructors’ goal is to help the dancers and their parents manage these nerves so that the dancers achieve success, while maintaining the element of fun.

While Olivia Bayers is nervous she summarizes nicely the expectations she and Sydney have as they approach the Worlds. “This will be a great memory, no matter what we place, just as long as my team and I have the time of our lives.”

Richmond City Baseball Association Turns Fifty

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

Turning fifty is an impressive milestone, and 2013 is the year Richmond City Baseball Association (RCBA) celebrates its golden anniversary.  The festivities began in 2012 with a newly designed logo and website, with more commemorative surprises and special events to be pulled out of their baseball caps this year.  RCBA, also known as the Chuckers, is named after the feisty Chukar partridge whose image has been incorporated into the newly unveiled logo.

RCBA president Trevor Rennie is an enthusiastic spokesperson for this well-established baseball club. He is brimming with ideas and harbours so much knowledge that one would think he has been on the board for many years, when in fact he became president in September 2011. He gained experience on the field as a volunteer coach when his sons expressed an interest in the sport. They played at various levels from Blastball up to Pee Wee AAA.

Baseball is an attractive sport as it is played in the great outdoors, and it is gentle on the pocketbook.  All that you require is a small financial outlay, a glove and then you will be issued a Chuckers team uniform.  It is possible to get started in baseball at any age and the sport encourages a variety of skill sets between the different positions of pitchers, batters, and fielders.  Speed and power are not required in all roles.

Not only is baseball a terrific team game, but it also provides the highest percentage of scholarship opportunities.  Rennie attributes the increasing popularity of baseball to the success of professional teams such as the Toronto Blue Jays and the Seattle Mariners and local B.C. boys Brett Lawrie and Jason Bay who have been drafted and play in their organizations.

The youngest division is Blastball (age 5) followed by T-Ball, Tadpole, Mosquito, Pee Wee, Bantam, Midget and Junior Mens (age 24).  The spring season runs April through June, and it is during this time that the majority of the 500 RCBA members take to the fields.  During the summer season (July – August) 200 players continue to swing the bat as high performance rep teams.  During the peak season 40 teams play and require two volunteer coaches per team.  One hundred and fifty children play the sport year round through a combination of fall ball (mainly exhibition games) and training indoors at the Oval and gyms where clinics are held.

During the spring season RCBA plays at ten different Richmond parks. Blundell Park is one of the key fields as it contains two baseball diamonds and has had field upgrades thanks to funding from the City of Richmond and the Federal Government. The association is applying for a matching provincial grant with the goal of one day hosting the Nationals at Blundell Park. In addition they hope to host the 2013 Bantam AAA Western Championships.

It takes many people to coordinate such a large number of players. Rennie is joined by an executive board of 22. In addition, 100 volunteers and 80 volunteer coaches are required to coach, prepare the field, run the concession, act as team managers, schedule games, communicate to the members, and act as announcers.

Coaches must take a major certification program to assume their position. In addition, the RCBA offers technique training from professional coaches, along with player development, to enhance and complement the association’s expertise and resources.

In 2012 RCBA introduced the Rally Cap program at the Blastball level. The program is designed specifically for young baseball players and aims to increase interest in baseball. The Rally Cap Program is one of the outcomes of the Long Term Athlete Development Program developed by Sport Canada and is supported by Baseball BC and Baseball Canada. According to Rennie this program introduces “the fun factor into baseball” by keeping children active and engaged, while learning the skills of the game in a fun, safe and informative atmosphere.

The season opener on April 13 at Brighouse Park promises to be a day of great celebration. The Victoria Day long weekend tournament at Blundell Park will see a return to “old school” equipment with wooden bats replacing aluminum ones. Rennie says the trend is swinging back to the use of wooden bats after many years, and by 2014 classic bats will return to the sport after much debate about the safety of aluminum.

As the RCBA heads into their 50th season Rennie reflects back to 1963 and thanks those who had the foresight to establish baseball in Richmond. “This game continually teaches amazing lifelong lessons to our players, coaches, parents and umpires.  It is not an easy game, but like so many things in life that are hard to achieve, once you learn the game it is extremely rewarding.  There is nothing like the crack of a bat against a ball or seeing a diving catch or a player pitch for the very first time.  The game is timeless and I look forward to seeing the Chuckers continue playing and enjoying this game for the next fifty years.”

Snow Days

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

A flurry of fluffy flakes greeted my family when we awoke this morning. Snow has a remarkable way of connecting us to the elements, and to the meaning of what it is to be a ‘true’ Canadian, which we West Coasters are spared from the majority of winter. Snowflakes also have a way of helping to determine whether you are a man or a mouse. They can leave adults quaking in their snow boots and shaking their fists at the sky for foiling plans, while children rejoice and are dumbfounded that this gift from the heavens could possibly pose problems.

Snow has a powerful way of stirring up memories. As soon as a flake hits the windowpane my husband recounts tales of his childhood winters in Alberta where he would walk to school in knee deep snow, and was sometimes nearly eaten alive by snow banks.

My early years were also spent in colder climes including Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Ontario. I have strong memories of building mighty snow horses in the field behind my house on Georgian Bay. At school, like ants building an ant-hill, my friends and I would dedicate recess and lunch hour to constructing igloos as we were fascinated by Inuit culture. Like a Siren who lures ships to collide against rocks, one winter we fell victim to an age-old cold weather hazard as glossy ice tempted us like a winter Popsicle. On a chilly day, two of my Grade 2 friends and I stood side by side, like birds on a wire, and simultaneously knelt down and placed our tongues on the glistening metal monkey bars. Instantly we realized the error of our ways and pulled back. With our tongues bleeding, we ran crying en masse into the school, in search of our beloved teacher Mrs. Pickering to console us in place of our mothers.

When I was ten years old I moved to Vancouver and was introduced to a completely new variety of snow. This heavy wet precipitation can take you from a winter wonderland to a spring runoff in the blink of an eye. Like my husband, I have my equivalent “I walked two miles to school every day in a blizzard” story. My elementary school was three miles from our home which required taking two city buses. One day after school I went to a friend’s house and when it began to snow I decided to make my way home. I quickly discovered that buses were not an option; they were all abandoned on the roadside. All I could do was begin the long journey home, on foot. I joined a flock of pedestrians and we trudged our way along West Broadway. When we reached Granville Street, a woman who I had walked alongside invited me to stop at a restaurant and warm up over a cup of coffee. I will forever associate blizzards with my first cup of joe.

It is with fleeting joy that Lower Mainland children do a jig when they see the outdoors blanketed with white powder. It is the transient nature of this gift from Mother Nature that makes them rejoice and take action. Build a snowman, immediately; you don’t know if there will be an opportunity after school. Make a snow angel, run around and leave a satisfying stamp of footprints, pull out the sleds, for the snow is something to behold and is not to be taken for granted. Welcome wintertime, for it may only be here for 24 hours and then we wave goodbye, until next time.

by Sarah Gordon