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“Well, all good things must come to an end,” Tom Michael, founder of iconic and enduring small business, Video Difference, says over the phone.
He announced today that after 34 years of helping to keep Halifax entertained and educated, August 15 will mark the end of the line for both the Quinpool Road and Bedford Highway locations of the video rental veteran.
Michael says he and and his staff—some of whom he’s been working alongside for upwards of 20 years—have been meeting regularly over the last year or so to discuss the fate of the stores in a changing consumer climate. “We said, as long as we can pay the rent and not lose money we’ll continue on. And the day it looks like we can’t we’ll make a decision,” he says, adding that Video Difference owns both of its buildings. “That day has come.”
A source for more than just mainstream blockbusters, Video Difference made a name for itself over the last three decades for being truly different. Its massive selection of foreign films, old classics, indie flicks, Canadian content, documentaries and TV box sets (the original binge-watch) are just as fun to browse through as they are to watch. Not quite the Netflix experience, to say the least. "It's like if you’re a reader, trying to find a book online isn’t the same as going to bookstore," says Michael.
But while internet did affect business, he says it didn’t make the difference.
“Really the consumer has changed as well, they don’t consume feature length motion pictures like they used to, they’ve moved to TV series and streaming does that very well,” adding that the past four or five years have seen the biggest change, with not just streaming but the upswing in cable subscription. “And I think the lack of competition. No one stimulating the market— we’re kind of an island on our own.”
“It was a perfect storm in all directions,” says Michael. "But having said that, financially we’re still strong. We’re not going out of business, we’re closing.”
In closing, Video Difference will be selling off everything it’s got. Starting August 20—and running through the seven weeks that follow—all inventory will be liquidated. Michael encourages cinephiles after a good deal to bring in non-perishable food items for the Parker Street Food Bank, eight will get you $5 off your purchase.
After 12 years of bringing Halifax handmade and vintage jewellery, art, clothing and whole lot of hats, Lady Luck Boutique (5519 Young Street) is opening a second location. Jennifer Huntley (who co-owns the shop with her sister Melanie) says they’re aiming to open at 118 Portland Street (between Sugar Shok and Dartmouth Yarns) in early September, and “It’s going to be grandiose.”
That’s thanks to a total gut-job, high ceilings, silkscreened floors from artist Mike Lewis and the carefully curated collection of beautiful things you'll find inside. It's a slightly smaller space than the Hydrostone location, which will mean a more streamlined selection, but the Huntleys are excited to bring the same vibes, and Canadian artisans, to the other side of the bridge.
"For the last two years we’ve been scoping out the area, waiting for the right space,“ says Huntley, adding that she and her sister both live in the downtown Dartmouth area. "There’s a movement happening in Dartmouth. And we just want to help that movement along.”
Adventurous diners take note: Argyle Street has a new hotspot for you to discover. East of Grafton Tavern combines local craft beer, innovative cocktails and a food menu that is daringly unique—all encased within a casual, wondrous environment. Chef Luis Clavel has created a menu that features food you may remember Grandma making...but with a world traveller-inspired twist. Try the Newfie-style cod, Welsh rarebit or the Grafton burger: Four four-ounce cast-iron blackened patties with a bacon peppered bun...and served with an iron dagger! Open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, East of Grafton is funky, fun and mysterious—with a subtle hint of familiarity. Experience it for yourself, but be ready to expect the unexpected. East of Grafton Tavern, 1580 Argyle Street
A staple of downtown Halifax for more than 30 years, the Historic Farmers’ Market continues to shine, providing Halifax with the best Nova Scotia has to offer from farmers, artisan crafters, bakers, meat producers and more. A truly unique farmers’ market, it is the only market in the area that is cooperatively owned and managed. It has roughly 35 year-round members, and with seasonal members can result in about 45 to 60 vendors per week for guests to choose from. Boasting a variety of well-established, small-scale farms and producers, the Historic Market can supply everything from apple cider vinegar, speciality cheeses, meats and fermented foods, to a wide range of ethnic and exotic vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices, along with all the seasonal favourites too. Historic Farmers’ Market, 1496 Lower Water Street, Alexander Keith’s Brewery
Located on Barrington Street, Elle’s Bistro provides original dishes and a relaxed atmosphere in a family-diner setting. A small space where everything is prepared fresh and in small batches with a local focus, it truly is family and wallet friendly! Mary Elle Planetta’s store, which opened in 2014, saw an opportunity and jumped on it, quickly becoming popular with items such as her blueberry- or strawberry rhubarb-stuffed French toast, an ever-expanding eggs Benedict menu (currently more than 10 styles), jalapeño breakfast sandwich on homemade latkes and her local beef burgers. Elle’s Bistro is also licensed, and offers great Caesars and has a good selection of local craft beer. Elle’s Bistro, 1678 Barrington Street
When you’re looking Middle Eastern and Canadian cuisine in a friendly, casual and low-stress atmosphere, Baba Ghanouj Cafe can suit all one’s needs. Owned by Roy Khoury, who has been a presence in the Halifax Middle Eastern food scene since 1992, Baba Ghanouj (open since 2014) has a menu that includes all-day breakfast, certified Halal meals, and vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free options. Enjoy a delicious, authentic meal that is both health conscious, cost-conscious and is delivered with friendly customer service. Come in and try the grilled lamb pita, chicken shawarma or the big-guy 3x3 breakfast. Baba Ghanouj Cafe, 1701 Barrington Street
Studio 21 has been showcasing high-end contemporary art to the downtown Halifax area for more than three decades. With approximately 50 artists showcased—roughly half of them local—Studio 21 has a rotating group of artists on display, as well as being one of two galleries in Atlantic Canada that exhibits regularly across North America—expanding beyond their own gallery space. As of June, Studio 21 has also offered to enhance any artworks purchased even further, by offering a custom framing service that makes your newest acquisition even more of a personalized memento. Drop by Tuesday through Saturday for a consultation, or to see the latest works on display. Studio 21, 1273 Hollis Street
When Amanda Hennigar founded her own wellness center, she envisioned a customized level of care and attention to detail that resulted in unrivalled customer care. Bespoke Clinic is the result: A wellness business center which offers services from naturopathic medicine, counselling and occupational therapy, to hypnotherapy, private yoga instruction and reiki. Bespoke also has a business incubator space, which associate practitioners can rent at an extremely affordable rate, to offer their services and grow their businesses faster. Most people are quite busy in the run of a day, and Bespoke is proud to offer treatment for a wide range of conditions. Treatment plans are highly customized to the patient to give the best chance of healing success, while the clinic is also looking to add social workers, massage therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, nutritionists and life coaches to their roster. Bespoke Clinic, 1809 Barrington Street, Suite B100
One of Halifax’s favourite destinations for contemplative lifestyle supplies, Drala offers unique, affordable gifts in an apparent oasis of calm, uplifted energy—in the heart of a bustling city. Rand Gaynor continually provides customers with a unique shopping experience. So many customers over the years have said “I love this store” that “You’ll love this store!” was adopted as its slogan. Since 1996, Drala’s loyal clientele, of both locals and visitors, come to find interesting products that are difficult to find elsewhere. Buckwheat Hull Pillows, which are made in Nova Scotia, and handmade Turkish stained-glass lamps, are two such products— both are only available in Halifax at Drala. Drala, 1567 Grafton Street
What do you get when you combine years of friendship with a combined 60 years of experience in the optometric and optical world? Ocean Optometry, an independent office that offers eye exams, fine eyewear and contact lenses. Led by Dr. Euan McGinty, Dr. David John Wilson and opticians Michael Bonang and Alicia Austin, Ocean Optometry takes the premise of friendship and applies it to their customer service, with personalized service in a relaxed environment being a point of emphasis. Ocean Optometry possesses a unique collection of independently-manufactured eyewear. They also focus on having products made from natural materials, making them environmentally friendly, and offer bespoke frames by TD Tom Davies—similar to a custom-made suit— to provide the best possible fit for their customers. Ocean Optometry, 5240 Blowers Street
It began with artisans making pewter designs in 1974 in a vacant boat building shop (circa 1880) in Mahone Bay. Since then, Amos Pewter has opened locations in Peggys Cove, Charlottetown and the historic Halifax waterfront. Amos Pewter designs and hand-crafts pewter jewelry, home decor, tableware and ornaments, which are inspired by nature and our coastal surroundings - offering a connection of the area to customers. Customers can chat with the artisans and watch them carefully ladle hot, free-flowing molten pewter from the melting pot and capture it in a spinning mould. They also offer a hands-on experience where visitors can finish and personalize their own pewter sand dollar, an experience which is uniquely Amos. Each year Amos designs an annual collector ornament, which has become a traditional collectors’ piece for many customers. Each ornament comes with a story and is packaged in a gift envelope...the 2016 ornament is the Cardinal. Amos Pewter, 1751 Lower Water Street
Celebrating more than 10 years on Barrington Street, The Loop is not just a store—it’s become a landmark. Offering a modern, airy, open and well-lit space, The Loop looks more like a gallery or an art studio than a retail shop. Mimi Fautley’s store offers natural fibre yarn, and other supplies, for knitting, crocheting, felting and spinning. Crafters of all levels are welcome, with support, advice and workshops available to help every project, no matter the size. The product selection is diverse, with a number of local and artisanal products, including the Cascade 220 Superwash: a high-quality, soft, machine-washable 100 percent wool. Come in and discover it—or any of the other exciting products—that you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. The Loop, 1547 Barrington Street
When NSCAD University moved to its Granville Street location, there had to be a store for where the art was made—in 1998 the NSCAD Art Supply Store moved with the school. A location rooted in the history of the downtown commercial core, it’s not just a place to purchase art supplies, but also where students—and artists from various parts of the province and beyond—can meet and chat informally. Often people drop in just to say hello, have a laugh, get a hug and chat. If you’re looking for a specific product and the store has it, they’ll sell it to you. If not, they’ll get it for you. And If they can’t get it, or if it doesn’t exist, they’ll suggest solutions that might work for the customer. NSCAD Art Supply Store, 1871 Granville Street
A modern handmade boutique and letterpress studio located in downtown Halifax, Inkwell offers an abundant selection of specialty printed paper products and handmade delights. Everything you can find in the store has been personally worked on by the artist—both local and international—giving it that added feel of care and attention. Owner Andrea Rahal has thrived over the last five years, largely in part to the uniqueness of the products: Inkwell has two antique letterpresses on site, which are used to make its in-house line (Inkwell Originals) and custom client work. A 600-year-old printing process, the cast-iron presses are hand powered and paper is fed by hand. Requiring time and a high degree of skill, the type and image are pressed into the paper through the pressure of the press, resulting in a charming and timeless tactile impression in the paper. Inkwell, 1658 Market Street
Biscuit General Store, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, continues to provide downtown Halifax with fun, interesting and high-quality clothing and accessories that are sure to please. Wendy Friedman hand-selects every item that’s found inside her “boutique department store,” drawing upon the feedback that she hears from customers every day. Biscuit carries the philosophy of embracing everyone, and making them feel welcome. This community approach is reflected in their efforts to support Canadian brands, but they also stock the latest fashions from Scandinavia, London and more. If there’s a style Friedman can’t find? She’ll have it made in LA for her in-house brand Bonanza by Biscuit. Biscuit General Store, 1661 Argyle Street
Massage therapist Alicia Wright and yoga instructor Lara Frankcom will combine forces at Pramana—a new business coming to Gottingen street in August.
Wright describes Pramana as a space to learn about your body. A client’s needs can dictate the service they receive. For example, if someone is trying to correct an injury, Wright and Frankcom would work together to assess and treat the client, and also provide them with a set of exercises to take home. The services will be offered separately as well. Yoga at Pramana will be focused on small classes sizes and body alignment work. Wright will offer deep massage therapy, with roots in tissue work and physical rehabilitation.
“We didn’t want to look like a yoga studio, and we didn’t want to look a wellness centre,” says Wright. “Our vision of health and wellness and the way we approach the body is similar—but it’s hard to get that across.” In order to try and communicate their vision, the business partners decided on the name Pramana, which refers to the philosophy of attaining “true and accurate knowledge.”
“We want to bring community together—to be a non-pretentious, accessible and open place,” says Wright. “Once you learn about your physical body, you can go deeper into connecting with yourself.”
Pramana is set to open at 2207 Gottingen Street—Megan Leslie’s former office— in early August. See its website for price listings.
Name(s): Mimi Audellynn (and Kiedis)
Spotted: Quinpool Road
Wearing: shoes, Jeffrey Campbell for Handmade Havana; overalls, bodysuit, sheer top, hat and jewellery, thrifted; opalite choker, Eleventh House (Toronto); Kiedis' harness, Buddy Belt
How would you describe your style?
Well, today for example I would say I'm a little bit country, I'm a little bit IDGAF. So yeah, I'm all about contrast, colour and confidence.
Do you interpret your current locale into your style choice?
One hundred percent. I’ve lived in the great north and the deep south. You need to be a chameleon when you're on the move.
Who/where do you derive inspiration from when putting together an outfit?
I get it from my mama. Also, The Golden Girls and Rihanna.
Name a current trend that you just can't get on board with?
Hoverboards. Because, why though?
Local hotspot for gems?
Makenew and Big Pony. I love those ladies so hard.
Halifax’s first community woodworking workshop has found itself a home. Hands-On Halifax, a proposed place for at-home carpenters of all levels to work on their craft, will be moving into 6070 Almon Street (across from the behemoth Rona) in mid-July, doing some work, and opening to the public and its members a few weeks later.
Hands-On is the brainchild of Russell Zwicker, a newbie carpenter who after searching for classes and courses to help improve upon his own skills, decided to build exactly what he was looking for.
“I bought an old house a few years ago and really wanted to learn how to fix it myself. For the last four-ish years was looking for a way to get into that as a hobbyist and there just wasn’t anything available. There were no options for a drop-in or short class,” says Zwicker. “In the fall I ended up going to NSCC for their carpentry program, and I really enjoyed it, and wanted there to be a space that did something similar but was a lot less commitment.”
He reached out to the Halifax Makerspace, Halifax Tool Library and Bike Again, community workshops with similar goals, to talk about why such a place didn’t exist, or whether he just hadn’t found it. And everyone seemed to echo his sentiment—Halifax would be all the better for having a welcoming, accessible place to build. The soon-to-be Hands-On will offer its members a workshop space for people who don’t have the room at home to hammer away, tools you may not have access too (or have room to own (like saws, sanders, power tools and more basic hand tools), and will also offer classes of all kinds. And its in a spot ripe for collaboration— both the Tool Library and Bike Again have spaces in the Almon Street location, as well.
“It can just be a fun amusement for yourself. I have lots of friends that take like a pottery class, for six weeks or whatever, it can be the same sort of thing for woodworking,” says Zwicker. “My hope is to keep it very accessible for newbies. I know what I would have wanted years ago when i had no skills, and i know what i want now with some basic skills but a lot to learn.
If you're interested in teaching a workshop, or want more information on what’s to come, check out handsonhalifax.com.
Emma FitzGerald was midway through her now-popular book Hand Drawn Halifax when she had the idea to make a colouring book version, inviting readers and creative types the opportunity to put their own stamp on her line drawings.
“Three years ago in Toronto, I bought a Van Gogh colouring book,” says FitzGerald. “As a kid I used to copy Van Gogh, I think it’s how I learned to draw in the way I do because there’s so much movement. I think that was in the back of my head.” After spending the winter “un-colouring” her drawings, her Hand Drawn Halifax, The Colouring Book has landed. “They aren’t bubbly and clean like a lot of colouring books are,” she says of her city street sketches. “There aren’t all closed lines and shapes like a typical colouring book, it could make for a more expressive colouring experience.”
You can pick up a copy nearly everywhere local books are sold—including but not limited to Bookmark, Atlantic News, Kept and Inkwell Handmade Boutique—or meet FitzGerald yourself this Friday at the Seaport Farmers’ Market (1209 Marginal Road) from 9:30am to 3:30pm, where she’ll be selling copies of her books, cards and prints.
Erica Cormier is inspired. The north end resident and entrepreneur is opening her first venture into small business—11 Street Boutique (5649 Hennessy Street, on the corner of Isleville)—this weekend in the Hydrostone, and she says she couldn’t have done it without her local retail muses.
“I’m really into shopping local, and boutique shopping, and I saw a lot of younger women opening stores,” she says. “I started feeling like, I can do this because I’m seeing other women like me do it. Seeing Sweet Pea come so far in the last few years was definitely inspiring.”
Her boutique—named for the 10 historic streets of the Hydrostone neighbourhood, from Sebastian to Young, the 11th being Kaye—will sell women’s and men’s clothing and accessories from brands like Beck and Boosh, Cake for Breakfast, MACCS and Muttonhead Apparel, carrying limited numbers of each piece, and replenishing regularly, to ensure to give shoppers that few-of-a-kind experience. Located in the ground floor of a brand new building, Cormier hopes that 11 Street will bring something different to the already popular shopping strip. The shop will officially opens this Saturday, July 2, from 10am to 5pm.
With such impactful changes coming, both now and in the future, it’s vital to have someone working for Bedford’s best interests—someone like Councillor Tim Outhit. “We have wonderful neighbourhoods being built, and with that comes a lot of new small businesses and neighbourhood businesses,” says Outhit. “The key for us is to maintain good growth while still cultivating that town feel and spirit.” Bedford seemingly has it all—parks, waterfronts, boutiques and malls, swimming pools and beaches. The community has a great blend of new restaurants and institutions that have stood proudly for decades. “We’ve done a wonderful job of incorporating modern elements while maintaining our pride and history,” says Outhit. “And we’ll continue to work together to make Bedford even better!”
We currently live in a society that is always on the go. This can prove unhealthy for us, especially if we don’t take care of ourselves by getting an adequate amount of relaxation and rest. The Compass Rose Health and Wellness Centre sees this, and works to provide a unique, welcoming environment to achieve a sense of peace and relaxation for their customers. A lifelong dream of founder/director Mike Buckley, the centre offers a number of holistic services. There is a sensory room aimed at children (visit their website for summer programing), massage, talk, and hypnotherapy.Notably, Compass Rose’s most popular service is salt water floatation therapy, a totally relaxed treatment method with more than 60 years of peer-reviewed research, that is effective in helping people relax, correct sleep disturbances and treat chronic pain. If you have PTSD, Fibromyalgia, arthritis, or just want to drop your anxiety or stress levels, check this out. The Compass Rose Health and Wellness Centre, Suite 200-36 Brookshire Court
Sunnyside Mall has slowly been increasing its number of retail boutique offerings, including Hammock by Thornbloom. As the name suggests, Hammock looks to capture the essence of a casual lifestyle and living space. Owner Elaine Shortt’s drive to create a comfortable and welcoming space is highlighted by much of the furniture being easy to maintain and flexible to various decor styles. Slip-covered furniture is the epitome of what Hammock aims for, as owners can trust in the longevity of the item, but with different slip covers available for the same frame, you can change the look and feel if need be. Hammock also has an in-house designer that will do consultations and floor plans for people needing help in finding the perfect arrangement. Hammock by Thornbloom, Sunnyside Mall, 1595 Bedford Highway
A good quality bagel is worth its weight in gold. Nova Scotia is no stranger to that knowledge, with Bedford now on the map as a premier bagel destination thanks to one of the country’s best bagel shops: Izzy’s Bagel Company. Ranked one of the top 10 specialty bagel locations in Canada by Shalom Magazine, Izzy’s has 18 distinct bagel styles (many of which are dairy free, vegan and all preservative free) and 10 different flavours of cream cheese—meaning you have endless possibilities for creating the perfect breakfast sandwich. Izzy’s also offers $1 espresso-based beverages, which is hard to find anywhere else. Owner Mark Brevozan has been delighted by how the community has embraced the uniqueness and world-class level his bagels are, including the California bagel gandwich, with fresh avocado, tomato and garlic and herb cream cheese. Izzy’s Bagel Company, 1180 Bedford Highway
Pete’s Fine Foods is a destination for foodies, gourmands, chefs and families. Catering to healthy lifestyles, special diets and ethnic cuisines they offer an outlet for local farms, specialty items and global influences. It all adds up to customers receiving a friendly, upscale and superior shopping experience. Old-world charm is paired with sophisticated style throughout every department at Pete’s Fine Foods. Pete’s represents more than 200 local vendors between their decadence, grocery, meat and seafood departments, along with one of the premier smoothie bars, they were the first retail outlet in Nova Scotia to offer dry-aged beef and many global specialties from Europe and Asia. Pete’s has long hung its hat on its extremely fresh produce, but some of their meals to go—their legendary West African peanut soup in particular—along with their guacamole and Chupadedos olives and a gluten-free eatery have been what kept customers coming back over and over. Pete’s Fine Foods, Sunnyside Mall, 1595 Bedford Highway
A key cog in any rising community is having its corporate citizens be as actively involved as its residential members. For Relish Gourmet Burgers serving fantastic burgers is only a part of the role they play. Focusing on exceptional food and a laid-back experience, head chef/general manager Dale King wants Bedford to be as much of a part of Relish as they are a part of Bedford. Providing community help when needed, sponsoring local sports teams and other community organizations, and using guest feedback to perfect their customer service are the pillars by which Relish stands. Using only fresh ingredients, Relish offers innovative burgers like the Coach U Burger, which combines a jalapeno blueberry preserve, cheese curds, back bacon and crispy pickled peppers—delicious! Relish Gourmet Burgers, 507B Larry Uteck Boulevard
What happens when you combine one of the most comfortable atmospheres in Bedford with a dedication to quality food, awesome service, local ownership and two patios? You get Resto, the epitome of a local, neighbourhood restaurant. Family-owned and -operated, Marlene Kenley and Ryan Hayes take great pride in Resto being a “from scratch” restaurant—almost every aspect of your meal is prepared in-house—and the vast majority of the menu is gluten free friendly. They’re both Bedford residents, meaning that the restaurant is local in every sense of the word. It adds a great deal of soul and passion to their food, especially Resto’s blackened scallops and pesto fingers, which are modern twists on familiar dishes. Resto Urban Dining, 1516 Bedford Highway
For the past 23 years, Bedford Buy & Sell has refurbished and sold appliances in the Bedford area. They put out the highest quality items, offer a warranty and always arrange delivery options for their clients. Most of Bedford Buy & Sell’s inventory comes new, directly from the manufacturer or large appliances chains, having suffered minor shipping damage. Bedford Buy & Sell offers either an in-store warranty or extended warranties from a third party to back both their new and used appliances. Whether you’re a landlord, a new home owner or just looking to update your current appliances, Bedford Buy & Sell is a great option to find a deal on new or refurbished items from the top brand names. Located at the north end of Bedford, and open six days a week. Visit the website for hours and directions. Bedford Buy and Sell, 1743 Bedford Highway
Wendy Friedman, owner of Biscuit General Store, pours tea into a cup, her shoulder-grazing earrings swinging slightly as she moves. In the late afternoon sun, you can’t help but notice how those long, colourful earrings match her floral patterned blouse and echo the bright red of her wedge booties.
These details combine to create a sense of fashionable perfectionism that’s almost tangible as she describes why, after 20 years, the owner of Biscuit General Store is still excited to go to work every morning. “The immediacy of when someone has an event to go to and they don’t feel good about themselves and you help them turn that around by showing them that they can look beautiful and feel confident...there’s nothing like it. To me, that’s the most rewarding thing.”
Friedman nods, her earrings dancing on her shoulders. “People would ask why I’d want to go ‘back to retail’ but to me, I find it much more interesting. I want to work with real human beings and real clothes,” she says, explaining owning a store was a lifelong dream.
But, as she recounts how Biscuit was born, it’s clear that her lifelong dream launched from another great desire. It all started with a love of Halifax, and a burning wish to live here long-term. After moving to the city and working in retail, the shop employing her suddenly folded—meaning US-born Friedman needed to find another job, and fast, if she wanted to stay in Canada.
With limited funds (and options), Friedman opened the first incarnation of Biscuit General Store, a tiny shopfront in Park Lane Mall. “Everybody said it wasn’t gonna work. I was mostly scared it would fail and then I wouldn’t be able to stay in Halifax,” she says. “I was flying in the face of everything.”
Since then, Friedman has expanded from barely affording stock to launching an in-house clothing label, Bonanza by Biscuit. With time and lots of effort, she eventually swapped that tiny Park Lane storefront for the behemoth Biscuit currently occupies on Argyle Street.
Part of her slow-and-steady rise came from creating relationships with her customers, Friedman says: “Biscuit is shaped by Halifax and we take to heart so much we hear from customers and the relationships we have.” If her shop—filled with old-fashioned mannequins and vintage knick-knacks—feels like something from another world, that’s because it kind of is. Friedman grew up in North Carolina, a state dotted with general stores.
“One of the reasons that it’s called a general store is because of the old general stores I grew up with in the south—eclectic, family-owned treasure-chest places that have been around for a long time,” she says. She sets her teacup down and leans in, earrings flashing in the sunlight as they sway. “It’s hard to say what Biscuit means to Halifax, but what I hope we mean is there’s no place like Biscuit—like as in the Wizard of Oz’s ‘there’s no place like home’. I want people to feel like that,” she says.
“That’s what a lot of general stores are in the south: A place where you run into people from the neighbourhood and you end up chatting, and seeing old friends. That’s what I always wanted.”
It takes commitment, time and TLC for a little seed to put down roots and bloom into something spectacular. The veteran Halifax Seed (5680 Kane Street) knows this better than anyone—the north end gardening shop has been growing with Haligonians for 150 years. This weekend the family-run business is celebrating the mega milestone with gardening demos, kids events, prizes, sales, an appearance from newbie food truck Rustic Crust and, of course, cake.
Emily Tregunno’s family has kept Halifax Seed well-watered for 91 of its 150 years—she’s part of the fourth generation to be involved in the business, which also has a location in Saint John. A new mom herself, Tregunno says many of the shop’s current employees remember the days she and her sister were born. “A lot of our family values are really built on relationships. We have great relationships with customers, suppliers, employees—it’s a family business but the business feels like our family, too,” she says. Those relationships, and a passion for educating gardeners new and old, is what she credits for Seed’s continued success. “And we’re encouraging people to do something fun. The joy of growing your own fresh food or flowers, that’s pretty fun to share with people.”
Tregunno says watching the gardening demographic shift to a younger crop of folks growing food and flowers in urban areas and on tiny windowsills has been pretty fascinating. The anniversary celebrations are well-timed with prime planting time. “Right now is the time for growing just about anything,” she says. Drop by the shop to get inspired to do so, and find a full line-up of Friday and Saturday’s events on Facebook.
Dearest readers—we need you and your many opinions. And not in the comments section this time. As of today, it's officially Best of Halifax season. You know, the other election everyone's going to be talking about.
For the 22nd year running we're picking your brains to declare out the city's favourite restaurants, shops, bands, people and places in our readers' choice awards. The voting kicks into gear today, and the polls remain open through until midnight on July 31. You can vote here.
A little icing on this slice of Halifax? Vote in at least 30 categories and you'll be entered to win $1,000 in cold, hard, cash.
For those on the campaign trail, or staunch supporters of a local person or business, you can find every campaign material you might need to get the word out here. Pounding the pavement—or the Twitterverse— works, trust us.
In most salons you’ll see two prices for haircuts—one for men and one for women. On June 1, Kara’s Urban Day Spa will cut gendered pricing at its three HRM locations (5980 Spring Garden Road, 940 Cole Harbour Road and and offer equitable gender-neutral pricing.
Kevyn Martell, Kara’s new artistic director, has been in the industry for over 30 years and thinks gendered pricing is unfair. He says, “if you are a woman who has a little pixie haircut and are sitting next to a man who has the exact same length of haircut, and it takes me the exact same time to do it and finish it, why should you pay $20 more for being a woman?”
Kara’s will offer three prices based on length—very short, above the shoulder and below the shoulder. “It doesn’t matter what gender you are,” says Martell, “it matters how long it takes for the service.”
Michael Phillips, owner of One Block Barbershop (2010 Gottingen Street), has offered gender-neutral pricing since he opened his north end salon in 2012. “It just made sense to me,” he says. Before opening OBB, Phillips regularly saw clients charged different prices for similar cuts, and he saw clients misgendered by a presumptive system. Now, he charges two prices based on length—there's a price for short cuts and a price for long cuts. He believes gender-neutral pricing makes his salon more accessible to queer, trans and non-binary Haligonians.
“You know, we’re cutting hair, we’re not deciding someone’s gender,” says Phillips.
Martell agrees, and he’s excited about inspiring change in Halifax’s hair community. “I think people should follow suit,” he says. “And I think they will.”
Shopping for bathing suits is the worst, but if sisters Anna and Omeda Swinemar have anything to say about it—it’s about to get a little bit easier.
Together, the Swinemars are getting ready to debut their line, and first foray into fashion, Mëda Swim, just in time for summer. “We’re really big into promoting body positivity,” says Anna. “We struggled with our weight and image growing up. We felt the affect of what the media was portraying at that time, and still does, for our ideal figure, there was just so much pressure.”
That desire to represent all bodies drove the pair to try something completely different from their day jobs with Mëda (modelled by every day people, and friends from their yoga classes) and over the last year they’ve been preparing their line of seven mix-and-match pieces in five colours, which will land in their online shop in mid-June.
“We wanted to go for super functional and super comfortable, no crazy designs,” says Omeda. “You’re not really reinventing the wheel with swimwear, we’re trying to be innovative with the fact we’re portraying different shapes and sizes.”
Fresh off shooting a fresh-as-hell new girl-gang-inspired lookbook for her online shop, Nadyne Kasta AKA the designer behind The Girl From Away, is cooking up another cool collaboration. With both local entrepreneurs and shoppers in mind, Kasta, the Maritime Makers collective and Big Pony’s (2168 Gottingen Street) Lindsay Stewart and Emily Ross have planned an extra special way to enjoy your after-work drinks this weekend—the Happy Hour Makers Market takes over the The Company House (2202 Gottingen Street) tonight from 4 to 8pm, bringing a whole lot of awesome with it.
The free event gathers designers, jewellery-makers, artisans and illustrators—like Pin Action, Mule Mother Books, Taylor Made Embroidery and Barre Fragrance and Skincare—in one, inclusive and booze-friendly local shopping space, and then sweetens the deal further with snacks and drink specials.
A snazzy standout building on the Quinpool strip and a truly standout crew running the…
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