There is no place like Tim Hortons. I know this is an overused phrase, but in this case, it has never been more correctly applied.
The first time I’d heard of Tim Hortons was on one of my families many pre-immigration visits to Canada, in an attempt to narrow down our destination of residence. A family friend who had previously gone through the same immigration processes was to meet us to discuss possible housing options and to help establish the next steps of the game. He suggested that we meet in Tim Hortons; I had no idea what an important place this was soon to become.
Tim Hortons is as much a part of the Canadian identity as is the maple leaf and the national religion of (ice) hockey (and just to clarify; that’s a lot!). In fact, it actually incorporates two of the above (Tim Horton, who started the chain in the mid-60s was a hockey player). The menu consists of machine drinks, donuts, and a few snacks served at cheap price, a mediocre taste and with speed – nothing particularly striking. The uniqueness of the ‘café’ (if you can call it such a thing) is in its wide ranging appeal and popularity. Young or old, business or leisure, day or night, summer or winter, Tim’s is always guaranteed to pull a crowd; it’s a word-of-mouth fact that franchise owners can reach millionaire status within a 10 year period! And it’s not just the clientele that’s broad, employees come from a surprising spectrum also!
What else is unique are the custom creations Tim’s has invented. Tim bits, for example, are the center pieces of donuts, rolled into small balls and sold individually or for a few dollars a box. Perfect for meetings, study sessions or hangouts, Tim Hortons yet again displays its versatility. Another genius idea is used to bulk up sales during retail down time in late winter (aka the post Christmas/New Years blues). Tim’s holds an annual event every February-April known as rrroll up the rim,where hot beverage cups have a potential prize revealed in the upper edge of the rim. All you have to do is rrroll up the rim to win! Prizes range from in-store food and drink coupons to cars, barbecues and money. There’s a whooping 1 in 6 chance to win, so people keep a tally and the whole nation waits in anticipation for their lucky moment (seriously, search #rrrollup or #rollupthe rim on twitter, I dare you). Sales increase, customers feel the thrill – it’s a win-win situation! As a proud dual nationality Canadian, I have found myself genuinely ecstatic for rrrollup season.
The above video is shot at my university and features the most wonderful Tim’s employee I have ever met. I know where I’m heading to cash my prizes in!
Tim Hortons knock offs have been implemented into shops in London and Dublin (but to name a few) and although the same products are sold, the whole atmosphere is lacking. Because that’s what makes Tim’s so special, Canada has a rich culture and Tim’s is the very heart.