WHAT IS IT
Gold Bars Dessert is a travelling dessert shop that opened in March 2020. From butter tart bars to brownies, the shop specializes in dessert bars. Gold Bars Dessert offers holiday-themed bars and uses seasonal ingredients.
They offered Easter egg brownies around Easter, peach cobbler bars during Ontario’s peach season in August, pumpkin spice bars in October and are currently selling holiday cranberry bars and candy crunch brownies for the holiday season.
Gold Bars Dessert has also partnered with the Hamilton-based specialty coffee company Detour Coffee to offer their whole beans. Gold Bars sells espresso and medium roast, which were handpicked to pair with their dessert bars.
The dessert business combines owner Germaine Collins’ love of adventure with her love of sweets. The adventure lover has created a business that allows her to travel and connect to people through food.
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HOW TO GET IT
While the shop doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar location, they frequent farmers’ markets and host pop-up shops. In the summer and early fall of 2020, Gold Bars Desserts was a weekly vendor at Connon Nurseries’ Fall Farmers’ Market in Waterdown. They also did a Christmas pop-up at Connon Nurseries on Nov. 28. Check their website and social media to find out where they’ll be next.
When they are not at a market, Gold Bars dessert does local doorstep drop-offs. If you’re located in the Greater Hamilton area, Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga or Toronto, you can order online for next-weekend delivery. The delivery days are announced on their website and on their social media.
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At markets, you can buy individual bars for $3. For doorstep drop-offs, Gold Bars Desserts sells the boxes of bars on their website. A box of nine bars is $20 to $25 depending on the type. Each bar is about the size of a coaster. The delivery is an additional $5.
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WHAT TO GET
You really can’t go wrong with any of these dessert bars. They’re all decadent, filling and beautifully decorated. I would definitely recommend the OG brownie if you’re a chocolate fan because even after a couple of days, the brownie is still moist and rich inside. If you’re not a chocolate fan, I’d recommend the blondies or lemon bars.
If there is a seasonal dessert bar when you’re looking to purchase, definitely try that. I tried the cranberry holiday bars and it gave Starbucks’ cranberry bliss bars a run for its money.
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WHY IT'S GREAT
Gold Bars Desserts is perfect for the sweet tooth who adores a large, classic brownie or dessert bar. The variety of flavours and the seasonal creations make it an exciting business to visit month after month.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the perfect way to support a small business and satisfy your sweet tooth without having to leave your house. Having Collins visit my house on a Sunday afternoon to deliver me handmade sweets was the highlight of my weekend. With the pretty packaging and Collins’ handwritten notes, Gold Bars Dessert bars make the perfect gift for your loved ones.
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When partners and food and beverage producers Ryan Chelak and Jules Lieff went looking for a production space, they came across a building at 98 Vine Street. While the space was larger than they required for their businesses, they decided to take it. Now they are sharing the extra space with Hamilton makers with their first Vine Street Makers’ Market set to take place on March 30.
The two-storey red-brick building was once the home of Hamilton Pure Dairy, which opened in 1907 to provide healthy, safe and pure milk to the community. It has been home to other businesses over the year and now houses Vibe Kombucha and FitOrganiX.
Chelak is the founder of Vibe Kombucha, a craft brewer of raw, organic kombucha tea. Lieff founded FitOrganiX, a daily meal delivery system that uses local, organic ingredients. They will be using the second floor of the building for production.
The main floor will be open to the community as studio and event space. While Chelak and Lieff are still determining exactly how they will use the space, they know they want it to cater to creatives in Hamilton.
“In talking to a number of artists in the community, in Hamilton, there seems to be a need, particularly where we are downtown, for creative space. All of the workshop, event spaces, they're all pricing a lot of these people out of the market,” Chelak explained.
The desire for space can be seen in how the market sold out of vendor space within a day and a half. By providing space at an accessible price point, Vine Street Market is allowing emerging makers the chance to bring their product to the public.
The markets are currently slated to be monthly, but Chelak said that they may change depending on the demand. Starting in May, they will also host a bimonthly thrifted, vintage market.
However, the main floor will be more than just market space. At the back of the main floor, there will be collaborative work space for artists to work out of. This would also allow artists to have wall space in order to display their work for clients.
Vibe Kombucha and FitOrganiX will also be selling their products at 98 Vine Street. Chelak and Lieff hope to have a cafe counter where people can buy their products, along with food and beverages from other local producers.
Another important use for the space will be the workshops that makers can host. Having gotten into kombucha by giving workshops, Chelak appreciates the opportunity to share skills with others.
“You know sharing that knowledge is really what community is all about, whether it's making something to eat or drink or making… music or arts. People need outlets like that, maybe now more than ever when everything is fast-paced and we're so immersed in technology and our work… [T]hat time to create it is important,” Chelak said.
The market will provide an opportunity for Hamiltonians to interact with and buy from local makers. While there is no restriction on where the makers hail from, the market will primarily host local creatives.
Chelak believes that the local creatives are leaders in Hamilton’s resurgence. However, more than helping to grow the city, Hamilton artists are also providing a welcoming and collaborative space for emerging artists to develop.
“Hamilton seems to be, from my perspective…, a city that is collaboration over competition… And I think when you have that mindset where you're looking to promote each other and/or share information or opportunities… then people are more apt to do the same back in return and the adage that when you first give and then you'll receive, it's really what it's all about,” Chelak said.
By creating an environment where artists can work together, Vine Street Market is joining the tradition of collaboration within Hamilton’s artistic community. Having this new space for makers to make and sell their art will allow more individuals with small businesses to flourish in this rapidly changing city. In turn, Vine Street Market will grow as well.
By: Natalie Clark
In 2017, McMaster partnered with the My Lil’ HealthBot startup to provide students on campus with all of their various drugstore needs.
Stocked with Advil, shampoo and various other drugstore essentials, McMaster’s own personal care product vending machine, My Lil’ HealthBot “Marie,” located in Mary Keyes Residence, achieves a solid seven to 10 sales a week.
Two years later, My Lil’ HealthBot has expanded their market, grown their e-commerce capability, streamlined their product mix and improved their brand positioning and message.
“We have provided relief to over 10,000 university students across Canada and soon we will be launching in the United States,” said My My Lil’ HealthBot co-founder Tim Decker.
Aside from the obvious improvements that the company has accomplished, they also hope to introduce a new program to their roster.
“The only other place to obtain items sold by the vending machine are in the drugstore in [McMaster University Student Centre], which is closed in the evenings and on weekends, and the closest Shoppers for McMaster students is in Westdale or on Main Street West,” said Raj Vansia, a McMaster student who represents the company on campus.
“We hope to increase the availability of necessary products for McMaster students while still being able to provide great service,” said Vansia. “This is the main reason for us to try out the dorm room delivery pilot at McMaster, which would allow for delivery anywhere on campus within 20 minutes of any products in our HealthBots bought online.”
The My Lil’ HealthBot dorm room delivery program will be test launching on March 16 and will last 24 hours. The program is slated to gauge the demand from students to have products delivered to them for an extra fee.
“One of the benefits of our HealthBots being on campus is we provide a 24/7 solution to life’s headaches. However, what if you could have our products delivered to you in 20 mins or less for only an extra $3.99 on your order,” said Decker.
The company will be experimenting with this idea to see if there is demand to provide extra convenience to students.
“To use dorm room delivery, a student simply visits our website and ‘checks out’ normally, and for a delivery option they choose ‘Dorm Room Delivery,” explained Decker.
Due to dorm room security restrictions, products will be delivered to the lobby of McMaster residences.
The program’s trial test will allow the company to grasp how many students are interested in this new service.
“We have heard lots of great feedback from students. We are passionate about the way we have provided an option for easier access to very important products,” said Decker, who is confident about the positive impact that My Lil’ Heathbots have had on campus.
According to Decker and Vansia, My Lil’ HealthBot makes it easier for students on campus to access their drugstore needs.
“We strive to ensure that students should only have to focus on school while they are at school, rather than on how they will go about buying the necessities they need,” said Vansia.
With the vending machines already making their mark on the McMaster campus, Decker and Vansia are hopeful that the dorm room delivery program will be successful.
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By: Bina Patel
Living in Hamilton comes with many perks. Last month, having a delicious piece of cake delivered right to your door became one of them. Calvin Smith, a computer engineering student from the University of Sheffield in England, began delivering slices of cake to doorsteps all over the McMaster Area. “I only launched a week ago so if you can imagine me cycling around in my bike in minus 20 degrees, delivering cake to peoples door. That’s kind of how it all started,” he said.
The idea was born out of a conversation between Smith and his friends about circulating baked goods to students around McMaster University. Among the many options were brownies and cookies, but they ultimately agreed on a slice of cake.
“There’s not that many things around the Mac area that do this kind of thing so it would be great to offer it,” he explained.
The process is incredibly simple. A customer texts the phone number found on their website, between the hours of 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Saturdays and describe which slice of cake they want along with an address for delivery. Within a half hour, a slice of apple pie with cream, chocolate truffle or red velvet cake provided by a local bakery, will be delivered outside of your home.
The time range in which to place an order is small at the moment, but Smith hopes to expand to Thursdays and Fridays and to improve the efficiency of the service. “There are loads more things we want to put on the menu, with the amount of requests we’ve had for gluten-free cakes and vegan cakes and maybe even things like brownies.”
The personal touch of hand-delivered dessert has certainly had an effect, as the response from the public has been positive. Last week, Smith found himself biking around for four hours in the bitter cold delivering cakes, and business is expected to pick up as word continues to spread. Over 300 people have already shown interest on Facebook.
“There are loads more things we want to put on the menu, with the amount of requests we’ve had for gluten-free cakes and vegan cakes and maybe even things like brownies."
It remains to be seen whether expanding the service will be a piece of cake after all.
Photo Credit: Kareem Baassiri/ Photo Contributor