These pages summarize my unfortunate experience with Al Sebastian and his Canadian Classic FishFry business.

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Would you like to buy some?
These are just a few of the locations that are (or were) carrying the products.

I lost count of the number of places we visited and delivered product to during the summer of 2010.

Esso between Upsala and Raith.

The Trading Post
Esso between Upsala and Raith.

Upsala general store.

Upsala's General Store.

Gramma's grocery store in Ignace.

Gramma's in Ignace. They sold a lot of Canadian Classic Fishfry in 2010.

Black Bear gifts in Ignace.

Black Bear gifts, also in Ignace.

KA Tackle and Sports in Dryden.

KA Tackle and Sports in Dryden.

Tony's Bait and Tackle, Dryden. They also went with the Canadian Classic FishFry Private Label program and called it Tony's Fishfry.

Tony's Bait and Tackle, also in Dryden.

Indian Lake Lodge, near Red Lake.

Indian Lake Lodge, on the way to Red Lake. Indian Lake Lodge was planning to order a lot of Canadian Classic Fishfry for their 2011 season and also participate in the Canadian Classic Food Products private label program. They were going to give a package of fishfry to each customer as a thank you gift.

Red Lake Marina in Red Lake. They ordered quit a bit of Canadian Classic Fishfry product with a private label. They called it Bobbies Fishfry.

Red Lake Marine, home of the annual Red Lake Fall Fishing Derby. This is a huge event bringing in professional anglers from all over North America.
Have you heard about the gold boom in Red Lake? Canadian Classic Food products should be selling like crazy around here.

Wabigoon Lake Store, near Vermillion Bay.

Wabigoon Lake Community Store, near Vermillion Bay.

Pakwash Lake Lodge, just south of Red Lake.

Pakwash Lake Lodge, just south of Red Lake.

Plus:
•  Zechners (Nipigon)   •  Family Foods (Red Rock)   •  Daneff's Food Market (Geraldton)
•  York Variety (Longlac)    •  Jelicoe General Store    •  Lake Helen Community Store (Nipigon)
•  Quality Market (Thunder Bay)    •  Maltese Grocery (Thunder Bay)    •  Eagle Lake Lodge (Vermillion Bay)
•  Kahooter's Pit Stop (Ear Falls/Lac Seul)    •  Northern Lights Gift Shop (Sioux Narrows)
•  Rusty Myers Resorts (Fort Francis)



Canadian Classic Fishfry Shore Lunch Contest

Let's have a shore lunch contest...   (Updated: Mar 11/12)

Another big promotional idea. The contest was being promoted assuming several resorts would agree to participate. Only one small detail seems to have been overlooked, there weren't any participating resorts.

The contest was supposed to go something like this:

  • Contestants will be required to submit photos of their shore lunch using Canadian Classic Fishfry products. A Canadian Classic Fishfry product must be included in the photos provided, and be clearly visible as proof of purchase. A brief story of your fishing and shore lunch experience, and your opinion of my products must also be included.
  • Purchasing my products at any retail store and following the contest rules entitles you to enter the Retail Contest to win the use of a deluxe cabin for four people at a participating resort in Ontario. There will be one winner selected by random draw each year.
  • There will also be one winner per year at each participating Resort. If you stay at a resort and enter the contest according to the rules you could win the following prizes...

If I'm reading this correctly, there are now now 2 grand prizes involved. One for entries from retail outlets and another from the resort entries. The full details can be seen here.



Al Sebastian and Tony Puccio on Tony's boat with a couple bags of Canadian Classic Fishfry.

Getting into the American Market

On one of our visits to a fishing lodge near Dryden (it may have been at Andy Myers Lodge on Eagle Lake) we met up with Pro Angler Tony Puccio from Bait Rigs Fishing Tackle. The plan with Tony was that we (as Sunset Country Resort Services?) were to distribute his high-end tackle in Northern Ontario and Tony would get Canadian Classic Fishfry into the Gander Mountain and Cabela's outdoors stores in the States. I was told Tony had good connections with both companies and his Bait Rigs Tackle products was carried in a lot of their stores.

Did this breakthrough ever happen?? Beats me, everything sounded good at the time.

That's a photo of Al Sebastian and Tony Puccio posing with a couple of bags of Canadian Classic FishFry during a photoshoot on July 7, 2010.



Al Sebastian fishing (deep in thought) at Indian Lake Lodge.

Gone fishin'... (maybe)

Canadian Classic Food Products was supposed to be involved with the Red Lake Fall Classic Walleye Tournament in September 2010 as a sponsor. Al supposedly had signage made up and a couple of pro anglers had agreed to attach the signs to their boats & vehicles.

Again... it all sounded great, until it was actually time to head up to Red Lake and join in the fun. Al said the place where we were supposed to stay had been taken by someone else, there was no place else to stay, blah-blah-blah and besides it's probably not worth driving all the way to Red Lake just for the derby (WHAT!!). His alternate plan was... let's go to Nipigon, they have a fish derby on that weekend as well. I don't have anything against Nipigon, but their derby was nothing compared to the one going on in Red Lake.



Fish processing plant and a food show   (Updated: Feb 12/12)

In September 2010 Al was telling me about a big deal in Kenora with a newly renovated fish processing plant and how they had confirmed orders for literally tons of frozen fish products, but they needed a good quality fish coating. He wanted additional funds (which I supplied) to visit the owners in Kenora and get the contracts in place.

Anishinaabe Marketing Freshwater Fish Inc in Kenora a spacer In an E-Mail Al claimed "I spoke to the Graphic Artist today in Kenora who is designing the labels for James Cameron (not the director). The project is officially under way.". James is the president of Anishinaabe Marketing Freshwater Fish Inc and is the fellow in-charge of the new Kenora fish plant.

Did you know the Canadian Government is the fish business? Their Fresh Water Fish Marketing Corporation specialises in the purchase and marketing of fresh water fish products throughout Canada. How could it go wrong with the Federal Government as a customer and promoter?

J.N. Webb and Sons in Fort Frances  Cabelas logo  Bass Pro Shops logo 
Al also claimed "Webb Wholesale [in Fort Frances] are signing on as distributors" and "Cabelas and Bass Pro shops are onboard as well".

Al wanted to send product samples and have product displays created for an upcoming food show being held in Vancouver (Oct 2010). The food show was being coordinated by Inland Pacific Distributors (a national distributor) out of Langley BC.
FYI: Inland Pacific Distributors changed its name to BRS Canada Acquisition Inc. effective Sept 1, 2011. BRS (Big Rock Sports) purchased Inland Pacific as part of their plans to enter the Canadian market. More info here.

I verbally agreed to the plan and advanced additional funds to cover unexpected these expenses, with a verbal agreement to repay the money at the end of 2010.

Al returned from Kenora with nothing except something along the lines of the "they don't know what they're doing..." story (again) and the big break-through food show in Vancouver seems to have dropped off the radar even though we supposedly shipped them several cases of the Canadian Classic Fishfry product.

What about the "deals" that were supposedly signed, sealed and underway? The Webb, Cabelas and Bass Pro Shops connections disappeared as well. To top it all off, the additional funds that had been ear-marked for these projects was gone without a trace.



More ideas... more money...

In October 2010 Al was onto another "big idea" about expanding the product line (adding fish and games spices) and increasing sales (open a storefront operation, "fish and chicken shack"). He'd been talking about the Fish and Chicken Shack idea for a while, his plan was to franchise it and compete with M&M Meats.

This time he wanted an additional $8,000 and in return my share of the operation would increase from 25% to 49% although my share of the profits would remain at 25%. Needless to say I turned him down. The conversation got to the point where he was visibly upset and was demanding the additional funds. He was saying something along the lines of "... you've got assets, you can get a loan... I don't have any assets, so I can't get a loan.". I told him I could probably get a loan, but who's going to make the loan payments?

After all that's happened since then I'm glad I didn't go along with that big idea.



October 2010 - Last contact...

Here's the last E-Mail I received from Al. Visiting the Innovation Centre and investigating sources of funding is what he was supposed to have done last January.


On 10/16/2010 7:11 AM, Canadian Classic Food Products wrote:
> Hi Rob,
> I know you check your e-mails regularily. I'm thinking that you did not phone yesterday
> after work because you think I'm going to ask you for more money. Well, I'm not going to
> now, or ever again. You are not the Canadian Imperial Bank of Rob. I want to apologize for
> putting you on the spot the way I did. I should not have asked for money I already knew
> was not available. You have already contributed much more than originally agreed. I was so
> excited about the prospect of setting up shop at Peter's that I temporarily lost my mind.
> Please accept my apology.
>
> Regarding this weekend's road trip, I should have focused my attention on that instead of
> spending so much effort on Peter's. I neglected to pick up samples at the warehouse or
> make a plan of action. Also, I didn't want to risk having to spend what little cash I have
> left on a trip that I was not properly prepared for. If you are willing, let me know when
> you have another weekend off and I'll be fully prepared to go.
>
> Since I have nearly completed revising the business plan I might as well finish it before
> I put it away. Now that my brain is back to normal I need to focus all of my attention on
> what we have in hand. Any idea of a Fish n Chicken Shack will have to wait awhile. I still
> plan to attend the meeting with the Innovation Centre on Tuesday. At the very least I'll
> gain a better understanding about the funding programs. At best, she may be able to guide
> me in the right direction.
>
> So, if you're not overly busy give me a call. We'll have tea. Oh yeah, don't worry about
> the future of the business. A minor, temporary cash flow shortfall isn't anything to be
> concerned about. We have lots of Fishfry inventory and Spices on the way. I just have to
> do my job and sell it. Talk to you soon.
>
> Al
>




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