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Ricky Blue's Other Life
Ricky Blue
Ricky Blue
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is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer. He and partner George Bowser are the famous Bowser and Blue comedy act. Here's his bio from their Bowser and Blue website.

Ricky Blue was born in Liverpool, England, but raised in Maine, New Jersey, and Toronto. He has an MA in English from Concordia University. He has been involved in bands and media music in Montreal for over twenty years. In 1981 he won an international 'Clio' award for excellence in advertising.

He once appeared on television naked.

His life had no real meaning, however, until he began to play with Bowser and Blue. Rick plays guitar, mandolin, and harmonica, and sings in a rather pleasant baritone when George will let him.

His columns are archived here

Posted 02.28.05

RICKY BLUE

Small stores: real people providing real service

I celebrate the stores in my little village. And I am sure you, too, know a useful little local store for which you are grateful.

You know what I mean, an enterprise that is more than a store - one that is a real resource. These small businesses, usually family-owned, are the backbone of our economy. And they often become more a part of our lives than we realize.

One quarter of the Canadian gross domestic product comes from small business.

But beyond the statistic, our association with them is not just economic. It is personal. We cultivate a relationship with these people. And we should appreciate them.

One such business is Entertainment Today in the Beaurepaire village. It is the ultimate mom-and-pop store - it's actually run by a mom and a pop. And the kids - teenagers now - also pitch in.

It is partly a video rental store. This is Josée's domain. And she is always spot-on with recommendations. I never rent a film I didn't know about without asking her opinion. She has seen them all.

And it is part computer store. This is David's domain. And now that computers have come down in price, almost every household in my neighbourhood has one. We all want to be on-line.

It is so handy. You can Google almost anything or anyone. But there are so many viruses and spy ware pop-ups and junk e-mails invading our computers from the Internet that it is almost a full-time job just to keep them working. This is where David comes in. He even offers house calls - so rare these days. And he and his staff know what they are doing. Also very rare these days.

They will even - get this - answer the phone. Now that is rare these days. I've spent hours trying to get through the Sympatico automatic telephone-answering maze with a question David could have answered in a minute. How come a huge communications giant like Bell hasn't figured out that this confusing wall they put between themselves and their customers is just making for angry customers?

Message to Bell: Hire some people to answer the phone so that when customers call with a problem that doesn't fit in to options one through five they don't have to figure out what chess move to make to get through to you.

Hello! It's elementary public relations!

Sometimes David and his staff have given me instructions over the phone. Often the most frustrating software problems are simply caused by a checked box in a hidden window. (Thank you Bill Gates.) But if you don't know which box in which hidden window -- how are you going to fix it?

And if any one of the 53,000 people out there who might read this column has ever found any help in solving a computer problem by using the "help" function in a program, please write a letter to this paper. I will eat this column.

This small store is a treasure. Am I gushing? Perhaps it was the newlywed glow I felt last time I was there. Yes, David and Josée were recently married. What do people who get married after 15 years of living together and childrearing and working together every day do on their honeymoon?

Josée's answer warmed my heart: "We watched Coronation Street and fell asleep on the couch."

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