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Home canners snap up new gem jar lids

In his first year, the Canadian manufacturer of gem jar lids is finding he can’t keep his products on the shelf.

“I thought I’d be making five million lids and we’ve shipped 10 million,” said Gordon Tirebuck, president of the Toronto-based Canadian Home Canning Inc.

“I hope everybody realizes we’re going to be around for years and they don’t have to stock up in one summer.”

Tirebuck got into making gem lids after American home preserving company Bernardin announced two years ago it was ending the line due to poor sales. Many people in Western Canada tended to use the gem line for generations with glass jars handed down from mother to daughter. But Bernardin said the gem customers represented only 10 percent of its business in Canada and that it was discontinuing the line to concentrate on smaller standard and wide mouth mason jars.

A protest and petition signed by thousands in Western Canada led Bernardin to reconsider. It promised it would produce millions of gem lids one-time only this summer. Meanwhile Tirebuck had been planning to fill the gap with his Canadian production.

Marla Rauser who was one of the protest leaders, said she had been looking in her Lloydminster area and couldn’t find any lids. But she knew they were selling out because of grocery store flyers. She was also pleasantly surprised that the price remained reasonable at $1.37-$1.97 for a dozen gem lids.

Tirebuck said he was pleased at the support he has had in the West and noted he had been working long hours from 7 a.m. to sometimes 2 a.m. to get the lids on their way to outlets of Canadian Tire, Superstore, Co-op and Safeway. The next issue is to produce gem size screwbands. He has the machine and it is being fine tuned. But he promised the screwbands will be in the stores within a month.

The lids need to be replaced after one use but screwbands can last through several uses.

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