For 20 years, Norm Murray has been coming into your living room through the magic of TV.
This week, he’s coming to see where you live in person.
Murray is The Shopping Channel’s second-longest-serving on-air host, having started there in 1992, after leaving a job in radio. Over the years, he’s become one of the channel’s most popular hosts, known for some on-air moments with guests like Joan Rivers, Wayne Gretzky, George Foreman, and WWE wrestling stars.
This past weekend, Murray embarked on Norm’s Second Annual Great Canadian Adventure, which will see him visit seven Canadian cities in seven days, in celebration of The Shopping Channel’s 25th year of business.
Last year’s Great Canadian Adventure saw Murray encounter black bears in Lake Louise, visit Peggy’s Cove, N.S., and enjoy international fare at Granville Island in Vancouver.
This year, different cities have been picked, and they’re being kept a secret until Murray arrives and reveals them on Twitter.
“It’s such a privilege. I feel lucky to be able to see my own country and yet it’s part of the career I’ve chosen,” Murray told The Telegram, who accompanied him during his visit to St. John’s.
Murray has a tag-along: the Roaming Gnome from Travelocity.ca, which has partnered with The Shopping Channel to make Murray’s adventure possible, and to award a lucky viewer an eight-day Canadian adventure of their own.
Murray (and the gnome) were Screeched in at Trapper John’s, ate hot dogs on George Street, visited some colourful row houses on Gower Street, saw Quidi Vidi village and lake, met a Newfoundland dog on Signal Hill and visited the statue of Terry Fox at the place where he dipped his prosthetic leg in the water at the start of his cross-Canada run in 1981. Murray dipped his own toes — and those of the gnome’s — into the water at the harbourfront as well. He plans to do the same at his last stop on his adventure, Victoria, B.C.
“You could take a picture anywhere here, but it won’t properly translate,” Murray said of St. John’s.
“Whether it’s looking at the beautiful colourful homes or being at the place where Terry Fox dipped his leg in the Atlantic, you have to be there to feel that. It’s a feeling.”
Headquartered in Toronto, The Shopping Channel — previously The Canadian Home Shopping Club — sells a wide variety of items to viewers, including health and beauty, fashion and jewelry, home and lifestyle, and electronics products.
While it may be thought of as a channel for nans, its typical customer is a completely different demographic, said The Shopping Channel manager Lia Caponecchia.
“In truth, our demographic is a woman aged 45 plus, well-to-do, with children who are older and on their way with their own life. The perception people have is that ginsu knives, this old image of what television shopping is, and it’s a stigma that we’re constantly trying to get over,” she explained.
“People just don’t know what we carry. Loyal customers that we have are almost evangelists for us, in a way, while some of them have told us they don’t tell anybody where they get their stuff because they don’t want anybody to know. There’s a mystery, a uniqueness and exclusivity.”
The Shopping Channel carries electronics lines like Dell, Bose and Canon and sought-after skincare products like Perricone MD, among others. It sells product lines from celebrities such as Denise Richards, Kim Kardashian and Kimora Lee Simmons.
The channel’s best-selling item to date was a $25 sterling silver and Diamonelle (the channel’s exclusive brand of simulated diamonds) necklace. Twenty-five thousand of them were sold in just 24 hours.
Murray said he’s had to hawk some kooky items, too.
“There have been some weird things. There was the GLH-9
spray-on hair stuff, and I tried it,” he said.
“There was also this thing called the Flowbee, which was an attachment for your vacuum that sucked the hair up, and the blade in it that would cut your hair at the setting you predetermined.”
The Shopping Channel fans can follow Murray (@NormOhCanada) on Twitter, or read his travel diary at www.theshoppingchannel.com/Norm. He’s also doing daily call-ins and video messages on TV.
More information on how you can keep tabs on Murray and win a trip for two to four Canadian cities in eight days is available at www.theshoppingchannel.com.