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Aaron Clarke was sick of online shopping let downs when he decided to open Fresh Goods Sneakers and Apparel (1491 South Park Street), which turns three next week.
“I can't really claim to have been into fashion, and to be honest I'm still not that into it, high fashion anyway,” he says of his interest in style. “I just like good quality, interesting clothing.” Seeking out original and creative looks from the beginning, Clarke says along with an online store you’ll see Fresh Goods go a little “more grown-up” and hopefully feature local brands this year.
“It's really difficult to run a business, and way harder to run one well,” he says of his experience running an indie shop. “Still working on that last part.”
Clarke’s in celebration mode this week offering tax-free footwear through December 7, then 30 percent off kicks on the 8th, 40 percent off on the 9th and a whopping 50 percent off on the big birthday, December 10.
Pictured: Calming Signals crewneck from Rockwell by Parra, a artist-driven brand from the Netherlands and one of Clarke's personal faves. It's $90.
“It was just kind of happenstance,” says Ray Frizzell of how he and David McQuaid teamed up to create downtown Halifax’s newest furniture store KEW, which opens this Saturday (December 7) at 1861 Granville Street.
“We happened to bump into each other and started talking about furniture and products we loved and it just went from there.” The pair bring a wealth of experience in the biz (Frizzell started Statement before selling it five years ago) and a shared love for “clean, simple, modern” design, that leans a little edgy, to the store. Frizzell says the well-made, affordable pieces they’ve chosen are “designed for real life, designed to be used and designed to be lived with.”
A step inside the KEW showroom will reveal exclusive products from stylish but livable furniture (some of which is Canadian made) to unique accessories like porcelain from artist, designer and NSCAD alum Erin McCutcheon and type-based maps of Halifax from Dave Murray. “The goal is for the product to be accessible in price and functionality,” says Frizzell. “I personally own one of the couches we carry...a year and a half later, and it looks like it did the day we bought it.”
Peep KEW's Facebook for store hours and updates.
A firm believer that hard copy books and ebooks can coexist happily ever after, Morgan Dambergs opened her used fiction store, Orphan Books (2394 Agricola Street) about a year-and-a-half ago on what’s become a busy business strip for the north end.
“Ebooks are great for travelling, since they don't weigh you down, but there's a sensory aspect to physical books that ebooks can't quite replace,” she says. “A lot of my customers talk about liking to have a hard copy of a book they want to dog-ear, or mark up, or simply keep on a bookshelf.” A book collector with a background in publishing, Dambergs aims to keep her books—which she gathers from flea markets, donations and customer trades—under $10, catering to customers of all ages, hoping to keep younger readers keen on hard copies. “In an increasingly connected world, sometimes it's nice to turn your devices off and just escape for a while,” says Dambergs. “Books are still one of the best ways to do that, and I think they always will be.”
After 30 years as touring musicians, Gary and Denise Julien have seen their fair share of country bars. So when the opportunity to take over Dartmouth's infamous The Rodeo Lounge (121 Ilsley Avenue), of course they jumped on it.
"We just didn't do well with retired," laughs Denise. "We needed a project and we got one." The soon to be renamed iteration of the bar will be transformed into a saloon-inspired space, with a brand new bar, new floors, fresh paint and some vintage accents. Julien says the transformation will take place over the next few weeks, but the bar as you know it will remain open during those renos.
Of course, with the new owners' background, the new version of The Rodeo will stick to its (and their) country roots, bringing in local country rock, classic rock and southern rock bands weekly. The menu will also see some re-building, sticking to classic pub far but eventually bringing some southern-style barbecue options into the mix.
“This bar has been on the down slide for a while. We hope when we get the renos done, Dartmouth won't have to go across the water on the weekends,” says Julien. “There are good bones to work from, but we're going to take it to the limit.”
It was two Christmases ago that Elana Liberman had the idea for Cylcone Cycling, her spin-class-centric fitness studio that would open at 2-5187 Salter Street just over six months later. And it’s been a wild ride since then.
A recent nominee for the Halifax Business Awards’ New Business of the Year, Cyclone’s grown its membership through crazy cardio and by bringing combined classes like spin and yoga, and spin and barre, to the table. Liberman’s very full classes have inspired a spin off of sorts, Cyclone’s taking over a 1,000 square foot space (formerly used for storage) next to the studio. It'll make way for a brand new room—with hardwood gym floors, and mirrors— and make room for more group, full-body fitness classes like the barre and yoga, but also new additions TRX and kettle bell.
“Once you get an idea and everyone’s saying ‘Yes! Do it!’, we just do it,” says Liberman, about her businesses quick growth. “We’ve always wanted to be a community based business. The community supports us, we support our community.”
Cyclone Cycling: The Annex is scheduled to be class-ready by mid-January. Liberman says the new classes will be included with membership.
Chantal Coolen started experimenting in the kitchen in the face of limited options for her vegan and gluten-free lifestyle. She learned a lot, and baked even more.
"When I suddenly found myself unemployed, I thought, 'You know, I bet there are people out there who are just as frustrated as I was when I first went gluten-free,' and I thought about all my kids' friends with food allergies, and I wanted to help," says Coolen of her business. "And I had become really passionate about veganism, and wanted to show people how easy and delicious plant-based eating could be."
Eager to share her knowledge with the public, she started selling her creations as The Kind Cookie at the Seaport Farmers’ Market (1209 Marginal Road) about three years ago, earning a following thanks to her cookies, muffins and bars (and those heavenly peanut butter balls). While her dedicated customers bugged her to turn her blogging into a book, it wasn’t until Ablesense Publishing approached her that Cook With Kindness came to be.
“I've included a few of the more popular recipes from the blog, and my family—well, mostly my kids—helped me choose the rest,” says Coolen of the 150 recipes. “This cookbook really gives you a look inside my kitchen. This is what we eat. These are my kids' favourite dishes."
Get your copy of Cook With Kindness at The Kind Cookie booth at the market this Saturday, or next week at your closest Chapters.
Emily Ross’ call to her longtime friend Lindsay Stewart for advice on getting involved with a co-op-style shop couldn’t have been timed more perfectly. As it turned out, Stewarts’ former co-op, Queen Street's Second Storey, was closing, so instead of advice Ross got a likeminded business partner.
Since then the pair’s had a whirlwind of a month to create Big Pony (1453 Brenton Street)—from finding the perfect location, to next door to Duly Noted to carefully collecting a very successful (we’re not jealous at all) Sally Ann haul.
“Pretty much everything came from scratch in the last three weeks. It just made sense. It came very naturally,” says Stewart of the sweet boutique, which features curated mens’ and womens’ second-hand clothing, as well as stationery from her Varity Concert line and Ross’, Carnival. “We have different tastes, but the aesthetic, how we wanted it to look and feel, is cohesive.” Stewart and Ross hope to keep their clothing racks fresh, rotating colour stories and bringing in newfound gems depending on demand, and hopefully hosting some evening events (please ladies' poker) in the future.
Big Pony's open 10am-6pm Monday through Friday, and 12-5pm on Sundays.
It's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood for the amazing crew of community farmers—and budding young entrepreneurs—over at Hope Blooms.
The community project, started by North End Community Health's Jessie Jollymore in 2008, has turned an abandoned chunk of land into a flourishing community garden and greenhouse over the last few years. It's engaged 40-plus youth and their families to dig in, get dirty and grow their own healthy food, and kick-started an incredibly popular line of hand-made salad dressings also called Hope Blooms. In short, it is awesome.
The inspired, and inspiring, group recently made a trip to the big city to pitch their ideas and their numbers to CBC's Dragons' Den and the episode airs tonight! According to the clips that are floating around the web they killed it with a clear and confident presentation and even moved a few of the panel of judges to tears. Watch the trailer for here, and be sure to have the kleenex handy. Isn't it nice to see that those normally cranky Dragons have souls?
For those of you who'll be cheering on Hope Blooms from the comfort of your own sofa, the episode airs at 8pm, but the Halifax North Memorial Library and North End Community Health Centre are hosting a community celebration that tops any loveseat, chesterfield or Lazy Boy you might own. Starting at 7pm there'll be local snacks and entertainment at the library (2285 Gottingen), plus the 43-piece Hope Blooms team will have the red carpet rolled out for them (rightfully). Then at 8pm you can join them in watching Dragons' Den on the big screen and maybe stock up on Hope Blooms' newest dressing, Fire Roasted Oregano. Celebratory salads!
Congrats from the Coast, Hope Blooms! We're rooting for you.
And our new heros, Hope Blooms, totally won over the Dragons and got FOUR TIMES what they asked for. If you haven't watched the pitch already, you need to. If you have, watch it again here...and again, like I keep doing.
In September, thousands of you sat hunched in front of your computer screens, scrolling through over 100 categories, painstakingly picking your favourite people, places, shops and services this town of ours has to offer.
Well, aren’t you thoughtful?
After triple-checking the numbers, the results are in. Want to see how your picks fared? Find the winners of the 19th annual Best of Halifax awards RIGHT HERE.
It’s the end of the Planet as you know it, Planet Organic that is. The Quinpool Road organic grocery chain has changed hands and become Organic Earth Market (6485 Quinpool Road).
Its new owners, husband and wife team Richard Michalowski and Victoria Cottier, moved to Halifax from BC after retiring last winter and took the plunge to buy the business at the end of the summer. “We’re trying to give it a bit of a facelift. We want to really look at the product, get some more variety and get it up to speed,” says Cottier, who spent 19 years running a similar store on the west coast.
“My husband and I live and breathe this, it’s what we do and how we live.” With the support of the dedicated Planet Organic staff (who are all staying onboard) the pair are working to keep the store’s concept, but liven it up a bit. They’re also planning to get into citywide grocery delivery. “We hope to do it proud and do it better than it was before,” says Cottier. “But give us a little time.”
It’s that time of year, you know, the wake-up-with-a-cold-tip-of-the-nose, resist-turning-on-the-heat-at-all-costs time of year. (Damnit, I turned my heat on yesterday and it pained me.)
Local knitter Fiona Blanchard, a NSCAD grad and brilliant crafter (who'll have her first pattern published by slick UK mag PomPom Quarterly this winter) will make grinning and bearing the forthcoming season shift much easier.
Find her line Fiona Alice, and cozy pieces like these baby llama fingerless mitts ($50), matching headband ($40) or chunky circle scarf ($140) at J&R Grimsmo (1533 Barrington Street), at the next Halifax Crafters market (November 30-December 1) and via etsy.
If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, what about an entire day dedicated to apples? Health benefits aside, here’s a sweet event going down Saturday, October 26 at the Historic Farmers’ Market (1496 Lower Water Street).
Vendors (like Gold Island Bakery, Fox Hill Cheese House, The Spice Man, Food Wolf, Cocoa & Honey, Humble Burdock Farms and Satisfaction Feast) are taking a bite out of the season with their own Apple Festival. They'll celebrate the red fruit with cider, baked goods, candy apples, special treats and the 25 kinds of apples grown by Hutten Family Farms and Boates Apples.
It’s also a fundraiser for the Common Roots Urban Farm’s food bank CSA, so make sure to have a chat with those fine folks too and hear about all of their plans for next year.
Brittany Dawn Connors has been making unique clothing in Halifax for 10 years, from alternative styles with her former line Defective Stitching to her current vintage and pin-up inspired Vivacious Vixen. With a dream of opening her own shop, she mostly sold her styles online and to friends until last summer she went for it, posted a Kjijiji ad seeking space and got a response in no time that lead her to open the sassy Vivacious Vixen Apparel at 6092 Cunard Street.
Though Connors sells a whole slew of fashions from Canada, the US and UK, she calls herself a “one-woman army”, making 50 percent of the clothing you’ll find in store—which range from throwback style office wear to unique accessories to doughnut-printed undies. “I buy fabric before I ever think about what it's going to be,” she laughs. “I take it home and it tells me what it’s going to be.” And if that's inspired you to do some fabric hunting of your own, Connors does custom designs as well.
You have until next fall to adjust the bike route you take to get to Cyclesmith (6112 Quinpool Road). The Quinpool institution (it's been a resident of the strip for 27 years, peddling bikes from its current location for 18) will be moving at the end of its current lease, to make room for the construction of the new eight-storey condo/retail development that'll eventually take over the corner.
Cyclesmith's Mark Beaver says while there's no real rush to move—the shop's lease expires in 13 months— they've inked a deal at 2599 Agricola Street, in half of the street-facing retail space in the NSLC's building.
"It was important to find a place that's the right size for our store, but more importantly has a basement that's even bigger. In the bike business we have to stock a lot of inventory, and have room for mechanics and a work shop," says Beaver of the new spot. "Because we're not moving until next fall we have the luxury of time to do renovations and make it look the way we want it to."
"I'd be staying here forever if they weren't going to rip the building down. But we're quite excited for the move," says Beaver, who's lived north of North for over 20 years. "There are a lot of really exciting changes happening on [Agricola] Street."
The new location is also two doors up from Nauss Bicycle Shop (2533 Agricola Street), a neighbour Beaver will be happy to have. "I think his [Dave Nauss'] clientele and ours are quite different. It's not necessarily a bad thing to have similar stuff in a certain geographic area."
We say there's no such thing as too many bikes in the north end.
The story of Woozles children's bookstore (1533 Birmingham Street), a wonderland of knowledge and imagination, began back in 1978. That makes this October its 35th, and also makes the downtown Halifax institution Canada’s oldest children’s bookstore—a pretty big deal if you ask us.
And deals this big call for celebration. This Saturday, October 19 Woozles invites you to its birthday party, where from 10am until 1pm there’ll be face painting, prizes, puppets and some sweet treats, as well as a visit from renowned author Sheree Fitch, which can only mean good things.
Happy birthday dear Woozles, can't wait to read the next chapter!
hi emily, *waves* miss u at the drive thru
We are also open Saturdays from 10-6! Thanks!
-The ladies of BIG PONY xo
Wiping my tears and cheering and smiling and laughing and just so darn proud........ Amazing…