The Rogue BiWay

The Rogue BiWayWhen I was a kid, there was a BiWay on Annette street just east of Jane. If a kid came to school wearing BiWay brand Champion's Choice clothing, the other kids would let 'em have it. If you don't remember BiWay, it was a discount department store chain that was shuttered for good back in 2001.

Although the BiWay doesn't exist anymore, there is one rogue BiWay that survives to this day. I snapped this picture yesterday on Lake Shore just west of Islington.

Rogue Biway

At least this rogue BiWay added the word "Zone" in small type and changed the logo. A mere five years ago, this is how that Rogue BiWay on Lake Shore appeared.

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 4.02.45 PM


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Tim

Mike,

Years ago Hugh used to be a BiWay store manager.

Tim

July 22, 2014 @ 4:49 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Tim

That explains the Champion's Choice running shoes he wore!

July 22, 2014 @ 4:55 PM

this guest

Ha! A rogue BiWay.

I think I saw a rogue Beckers store the other day (unless they actually still
exist as a chain).

July 22, 2014 @ 5:27 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@this guest

Apparently there's a legit Becker's in Oakville, but any other Becker's sighting is a rogue.

July 22, 2014 @ 5:31 PM

Rick C in Oakville

There is a rogue Mac's milk in Oakville also, Humble talks about it. I know where it's at, just can't remember if he calls it Macks, or Nac's.
On your podcast with Jeremy Taggart you guys were talking about Bargain Harolds, and they were prolific all over Scarborough when I was growing up. I remember they were one of the first places to import work pants from Asia, and my summer job I needed them because of the grease etc. First off i was a 30 inch waist, but the pants were designed for slim fitting Asians, I needed a 36 or 38' waist and the crotch was so short they were really uncomfortable. Needless to say within the first week I had the Ass out of them, and ended up buying a good pair of Hickey's work pants that held up the whole summer.

July 22, 2014 @ 10:23 PM

Brian

LOL. I recall the same badgering for the poor souls who sported the Biway gear. Remember Sparx as the shoe brand though.

July 23, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

Aurora Bob

I think the other difference is the orignal chain was "The BiWay" not BiWay.

July 23, 2014 @ 8:16 AM

Ajax Mike

Hah, BiWay & Bargain Harold's. I remember being irrationally excited to go the toy section every time my Mom took me shopping there. I was ALWAYS disappointed at the crap they had, and yet the next time I invariably got my hopes up again.

July 23, 2014 @ 9:01 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Brian

You might be right... I remember the brand Champion's Choice coming from The BiWay, but maybe that was jogging pants and sweatshirts?

I also remember our local BiWay had Levi's jeans, but only with an orange label. Instantly you could only wear Levi's if you had a red label.

tl;dr: kids are mean

July 23, 2014 @ 9:19 AM

this guest

the rogue Woolco in Yellowknife
only opens after midnight
with caribou meat as the red light special
on toasted white bread

Phyllis has been working at the counter for 40 years
hasn't seen daylight since graduating high school
sleeps in the basement storage rooms

listens to the Bay St. Rollers on her 8 track
wonders when Ray is coming back

July 23, 2014 @ 10:07 AM

Jacob

Ah, Mac's. I liked their old cat logo, before they replaced with with the Winks owl.

July 23, 2014 @ 10:25 AM

TheSweaterTuck

Oh yes, that takes me back. I HATED when my mom would take me shopping at BiWay.

July 23, 2014 @ 10:25 AM

Ryan

I remember that I couldn't bring a BiWay bag to school without being made fun of. And in our house we had lots of them. I also remember the cheap chocolate bars I would buy there.

July 23, 2014 @ 9:56 PM

Teena in Toronto

I wonder if there are any rogue Bargain Harold's around :)

July 24, 2014 @ 3:17 PM

Blind Dave

I used to shop in BiWay as a kid and never seemed to mind it, though it was very crowded and stuff was hard to find. I don't do well in cramped areas. They seemed to have a better selection than our local Bargain Harolds. I also remember Beckers and Macs. We had a Mike's Milk as well.

July 24, 2014 @ 10:49 PM

Blind Dave

Oh yeah, anyone out there remember the old discount Metropolitan stores?

July 24, 2014 @ 10:53 PM

Philly-Bob

Ah Champions Choice Shoes...I remember those pieces of Shit

Yeah...you got beat up if you wore those...

July 25, 2014 @ 8:59 AM

Catchacoma

I used to live on Baby Point Cr. and remember walking up to the BiWay on Annette. Now I shop at the Lucky Dollar Store in Gooderham Ont. I am really moving up in the world.

July 25, 2014 @ 12:24 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Catchacoma

Until very recently, I lived near Baby Point Crescent. Those homes are $2 million+ now, so you likely own Gooderham.

July 25, 2014 @ 10:52 PM

catchacoma

Hi Mike-- We sold back in 85 and got 600 grand so yes I bet they are selling for above the 2 mill range now. Ted Woloshyn used to live a few doors up from me. He would be a good person to interview on your podcast. Also Eugene( Merv )Melnyk lived on the street and he would be another good guest on your podcast. Just tell him your an ex Baby Pointer. Cheers

July 26, 2014 @ 5:12 PM

Rick C in Oakville

@ Catchacoma: I spent a good chunk of my pre teen and teenage years up on the 507, at Baldwin Bay road area. Snowmobiling and dirt bike riding into Picard and little Picard lakes. Great place to be.

July 27, 2014 @ 7:13 PM

Oingo

Don't recall going to "The BiWay much as I had to buy my own clothe at around age 15 or so. I do recall going to Boo Boos on Danforth Ave, just east of Victoria Park across from Scoffers or Shopper's world for those that bought stuff to get GWG, Lee (only ones that fit my skinny ass) and Levi's that were seconds. usually a broken thread or twisted seam not a big deal and big savings. They used to sell for around $14 in the mid to late 70s when "brand name" jeans would sell for $35-50

November 6, 2014 @ 10:33 PM

Arnold

I worked at the Bi-Way at Brimley & Lawrence in Scarborough while I was in high school and college. So we're talking around 1981 - 1985. I don't recall a lot of the clothing there having such a bad stigma attached. Does no-one remember North Star running shoes? EVERYONE wore North Stars in the mid-late '70's. And Bi-Way just may have been the only store you could get them. They had cool t-shirts from popular cartoons and TV shows. Their tins of mixed nuts were famous for being about 75% cashews when main brands like Planters maybe had 30% if your were lucky.
I still have the same sleeping bag my parents bought for me from that store. It would be about 41 years old now and the lining & stuffing only started coming off/out a few years ago. I loved that thing, And my kids have loved it, falling apart and all. They used to take it to Scout camp.
As part time jobs go, it was one of the better ones, at least fun-wise. Our manager, Ron Stiles was a pretty cool guy. And as a stockboy, if you ever showed up unannounced, he'd ask you if you wanted to put in a few hours to make some money. I remember Mr. Arkin was the Asst. Manager. He could be abrasive but was really funny when you got to know him. We had several trainee managers over time. One of them, Mike Akitt was a super guy. Another by last name of Murphy was a certified douchebag. I was so glad when he got transferred.
I guess that I can finally admit that I didn't pay for clothes, shoes, cassette tapes, chocolate bars or many other items for 3 - 4 years. Nor did many of my co-workers. One guy who shall go nameless, used to start his shift wearing an old pair of shoes and leave for the night in a brand new pair... quite often.

I guess the funniest thing to share is that one of the other stockboys (Manjit) and I sometimes used to share a joint while we were putting the garbage out in the back. There was a concrete room behind the store where the trash would be thrown at night. So one of us would take the joint to the room, take a couple of puffs, then come out and pass it to the other while he took the next turn. Ahhhh, good times.

Oddly enough, before Bi-Way, I worked for 2 years at the Becker's store right next door. Now both chains are a vague memory.

April 28, 2015 @ 11:04 AM

Tim

I worked at Biway for 14 years,before it closed in western Canada.(that's where I worked with them at the time).That company was great.It was formed and managed by the best people in the the business.I am proud to have been part of such an excellent team.I am now semi retired,but would hop,back into that form of retail,in a heartbeat!

July 18, 2015 @ 8:55 PM

Emilio

BiWay was my gateway into fulltime employment...worked there for 18+ years in Toronto (St.Clair and Bathhurst), Brampton, Georgetown, Port Credit, Kitchener-Waterloo...great company until the Zellers folks came in an destroyed it.

February 18, 2016 @ 10:50 PM

OK

Zellers didn't destroy BiWay - Dylex (the company that owned BiWay) went under. Zellers had nothing to do with it.

April 25, 2016 @ 1:16 PM

BrentOntario

Bargain Harold's: I remember my mom taking us there as a teenager in the 80's. When the chain folded, one of the stores was then called "The Bargain! Shop" or something like that.

BiWay: Went there all the time for cheap clothes, housewares, and large packaged candy. Could get a really cheap calculator watch for $5.99; and if the plastic band eventually broke then just get a new one. In Brampton Shopper's World, the store was in an a cramped, untidy, awkward location in the basement, but seemed to be a pretty popular place for new immigrant Canadians. Store closed up before I left the big city in year 2000.

Consumer's Distributing: Also gone and not mentioned yet. Brought the Soviet-style shopping experience to Canada by combining together all of the worst aspects of its competitors. Selected goods from laminated catalogs onto cards with a pencil, lined up at the cashier, only to be told what you wanted wasn't in stock. Although once got on a whim a cool Casio digital watch with temperature function. Consumers, as well as all the other similar "catalog shopping" chains in the US, all folded up simultaneously around 1998. Retail format couldn't compete against the vast choices of on-line shopping or the efficiencies of Wal-Mart stock distribution.

April 28, 2016 @ 12:18 AM


Pano Mandilas

Well Mike your article on BiWay certainly made me go back in time. I can truely relate to the embarrassment, and complete ridicule i would recieve, simply for carrying a bag with the BiWay logo. I grew up in Windsor, before moving to the GTA, and never resized that there was more of us poor souls, that endured the character bashing at the hands of our peers. BiWays black cloud seems to have been province wide, I wouldn't be surprised to find out, BiWays long arm reached country wide. I remember the champion brand running shoes. However, there was a second brand of shoes mainly high tops with velcro straps rather then laces, perhaps you can recall, "SPARX". I can still remember running thru the tall dry weeds in the middle of summer with friends, only to return home with dozens of burrs stuck to the velcro straps. I'm much older now but the bitter sweet memories will forever be with me. In fact I wish there was a way to travel back in time and relive those very same days changing nothing.

June 15, 2016 @ 10:36 AM

Ted

@ Pano at my school growing up the BiWay bag was called "The Italian Gym Bag".

June 15, 2016 @ 11:01 AM

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