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BiWay co-founder’s death puts planned resurgence of discount retail chain in doubt

TORONTO — Malcolm Coven, the tenacious co-founder of Canadian bargain store BiWay, has died. He was 91.

It’s unclear how his death will impact a planned resurgence of the retail chain.

The BiWay $10 Store, set to open later this year, aimed to capitalize on the nostalgia of 1980s bargain hunters to compete with dollar stores and larger discount department stores. 

The son of Russian Jewish immigrants, Coven grew up in Boston and moved to Toronto in 1961 to join his brother-in-law Abe Fish in launching the retail chain. 

The two partners were later joined by Russell Jacobson, and together the trio turned the discount department store into a mainstay of Canada’s retail market, selling clothing, household goods and beauty products at affordable prices. 

The BiWay founders eventually sold the retail chain to Dylex Ltd., growing to hundreds of stores across the country before going defunct in the early 2000s. 

“It was like a precursor of Walmart,” Coven’s daughter, Robin Gofine, said in an interview. “It was a small discount department store that offered great value for shoppers on everyday staples.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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