New Brunswick — Sources at Walmart Canada have confirmed that this will be the last year they are selling sleds and toboggans in its New Brunswick stores. This move comes about as certain Atlantic municipalities move to ban sliding on municipal property.
“It really comes down to a liability issue,” said Sasha McHarsher, vice-president of Corporate Affairs for Walmart Canada, Ltd. “With the amount of snow that’s been dumped on New Brunswick in the past couple of months, cities and towns have determined that sledding is a dangerous activity. It would be irresponsible for Walmart to provide the means to engage in this risky behaviour. It opens us up to potential liability that we would rather avoid.”
Rumours of the surprise move caused a panicked rush to buy the last remaining sleds in stock. The chain’s southside store in Fredericton, N.B. had fewer than a dozen Krazy Karpets and a single 4-person toboggan remaining in store on Saturday. Similar sales activity has been reported in snow-covered areas across the province.
“It doesn’t feel right,” said Margaret Hoolihan, Saint John resident and mother of 3. “My kids love going out on the hills; for them it’s a carefree activity. They don’t like it when I make them wear their helmet, neck brace and wrist guard, but they do love sledding.”
It is yet to be determined whether other retailers will follow Walmart’s lead in discontinuing sled and toboggan sales. Home Hardware, a Canadian-based retailer with more than 1,000 independently owned stores across the country, is refusing to make an official comment. However, some of the company’s franchisees are weighing in on the controversy.
Floyd Jacobs, owner of a Home Hardware franchise in Moncton, is lobbying other independent owners to keep selling the sleds. In an open group on Facebook titled “Let the Kids Slide,” Jacobs asks that Home Hardware “honour their Canadian roots and keep the winter tradition of sledding alive.” Jacobs goes on to write: “We can’t let those American scaredy-cats tell us how to spend our winters. The next thing you know, they’ll be coming for our hockey sticks.”