Despite not having any formal experience in the retail business, entrepreneur Nidaa Yassin has already opened seven stores. Photo credit: Brahim Ait Ouzineb

One morning in mid-September, three students wearing hoodies and small waist bags, rummaged through big boxes of different electronic gadgets at an Ottawa discount store. Visiting big shopping malls to find deals is not for them.

Loyal customers of Quick Pick, a liquidation store with eight locations in the Ottawa area, sets a fixed price for all freshly stocked bin items. This means shopping there is like a hunt for a treasure amongst the huge pile of boxes of different sizes.

Every day, the price of each item gradually drops from $25.99 to $0.99.

Algonquin College students often visit the closest store to the Woodroffe campus at 2444 Wildwood Ave. There they can purchase items ranging from electronics and clothes to tools, home accessories, beauty products and more. With the rising cost of living, the store is coming to the aid of those in need.

“Many students get their school supplies from here,” says Nidaa Yassin, manager and founder of Quick Pick. Yassin launched her first store in 2021 and it has been growing ever since.

Growing up in business next to her father, Yassin knows the value of every penny. Fame does not interest her but serving her community to the best of her ability does.

Q. How did you start your business journey?

I am a Palestinian but was born and raised in Jordan. I came here for a few years ago. Prior to founding Quick Pick, I took online business courses at various universities and earned several scholarships.

I was inspired by my father and always wanted to be a businesswoman. When I was 10 years old, I travelled with him on business trips. I used to go with him every day to the company.

Q. Do you have any tips about the best deals in your store?

Yeah, for sure. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the best days after the restocking day. Products are brand new, and the boxes are not ransacked by the first coming customers.

We just added the Free Gift Raffle. Customers who get two products from the bins get to enter a draw. They have the chance to buy premium items for the same amount of money.

It’s better to come the first three days. Although the price is higher, the products are intact. If you’re looking for cheaper stuff – $5.99, $2.99 or $0.99 – come the other days.

Q. Why would you encourage college and university students to come?

Basically, having everything for cheaper prices. Why would you spend money on something when you can actually save? It just calls for patience and a thorough search. For a student these days a penny saved is a penny earned.

Currently, there are no ongoing offers aimed at students, but we plan in October to introduce a 10 per cent discount specifically for students.

Q. What initiatives did you take to reduce costs in these hard times?

Right now, everything is really getting expensive hence the importance of our store.

There are a lot of bin stores in the U.S. which inspired us to open one. We have, of course, our own identity and have different pricing scheme and strategy. That’s why we’re branding and franchising Quick Pick to serve those in need in the best possible way.

Q. What is your favourite customer story?

Honestly, there are a lot of people who come to me saying we sell your products for a living. They would resell these as a side hustle and they would live on that money and that warms my heart.

Q. What are the challenges that you face as a female entrepreneur?

I personally encountered this bias of being a woman at the beginning but my strength and self-confidence helped. I’m determined not to let anyone take advantage of me.

Launching and franchising our business is just the beginning. Until then, I prefer to remain relatively low-key. It’s interesting how most customers assume I’m an employee, and I’m quite content with that.

Looking ahead, my future plans involve working on various innovative business ventures to address gaps in the Canadian market and benefit all communities.