Looking through the window of Zimmerman's Freshmart, you can see that the grocery store that has been at the heart of controversy in Kensington Market is getting ready to open. There are newly installed tills, stocked shelves and a display of deals on detergent.
You can also get a glimpse of owner Martin Zimmerman's dirty laundry. The contentious issue this time isn't whether his new Loblaws-affiliated store is contributing to the area's gentrification. Taped to the glass this week are posters hinting at a dispute with his cousin Danny over the retail rights to the family name.
"Zimmerman" first appeared in Kensington on the awning of Zimmerman Brothers supermarket, owned jointly by the cousins' fathers in 1953. Later, Danny and his dad ran a store called Zimmerman's Discount while Martin and his father branched off into a shop named Fairland -- directly across the street on Augusta.
Now, Martin wants his personal stamp back on the old Fairland site. But Danny objects to sharing eponymous signage, and the goodwill that he feels comes with it. In June, Danny's lawyer urged Martin to desist using the Zimmerman name. When that had no effect, Danny put up a sign outside Zimmerman's Discount assuring customers that -- while they're related -- he and Martin are minding their own family businesses.
Martin has responded with his own notices. They curtly thank Danny for pointing out the long family history in the area and show old photos of their fathers working together. "I feel like a victim," Martin says. "I just want to open my business."
For his part, Danny won't be attending when that happens next week. Hard feelings? Says Danny, "I wish him whatever he wishes me."