Local business and consumer news. Openings, closings, deals, sales, what to buy and where to buy it, we round it all up and give you an insider's shopper's special on small business in Halifax. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to send a tip.
When Dan Baldwin first waded into the local gaming scene here in Halifax, he took a decidedly retro route. Halifax Vintage Arcade, operating out of the back room of Daily Sweets (2860 Oxford Street), was a place where you could relive the days when video games could be played on big, wood-panelled cabinets one quarter at a time. Baldwin kept the nostalgia going strong out back until competition moved in across the street.
“After a few rounds of battle, we ended up getting the lease over here,” says Baldwin, who would end up selling the Halifax Vintage Arcade business, but also acquiring the lease to Ardmore Grocery & Variety. Baldwin debated what he wanted to sell at the new space, but instead of opening another vape store or smoke shop, he decided to sell the video game experience again—but his time, taking a more modern tack.
“The big catch is the full-room VR experience,” says Baldwin, who launches his new business, Halifax VR Room, from the storefront this week. Virtual reality technology is the big talk of the gaming industry these days, with people buzzing about the possibilities for the past few years. But it is still in its infancy, and is pricey at that—not a lot of average folks are likely to invest the money into trying out the budding tech at home. Therein lies Halifax VR’s business model.
“You want to come in and try it, but you don’t want to invest 10 grand into setting up your home system,” says Baldwin. “You’re really renting the hardware.” Customers will be able to connect to their personal Steam accounts—an online PC gaming streaming service—or get just a taste by checking out an a la carte menu of tech demos and proof-of-concept programs. “This is definitely the way that the technology should be introduced to people,” says Victor Canales, who tried out a Star Wars game demo. “Until you actually get here and play it, it’s really almost indescribable.”
Halifax VR will be open for business Monday to Friday.
When Mengyi Bian hopped on a plane from China to start her business degree at Dalhousie, she wasn’t necessarily planning to set up shop in Halifax. But after spotting a niche, her entrepreneurial senses kicked in.
“I was thinking of bringing international to local,” she says of her idea for Moon Moon Cosmetics, a new store at Bishop's Landing (1475 Lower Water Street) offering Korean and Japanese products. A tiny but mighty space, Moon Moon sells brands you won’t find anywhere else in HRM, from face care to makeup, to electronic eyelash curlers, Bian tries to offer a wide variety. The biz opened two weeks ago, and has been steady with curious customers, she says.
“I spend a lot of time explaining what the products are,” says Bian, laughing. On the flip side, much of Moon Moon’s clientele have also been international students—people who are already familiar with these brands. The biggest obsession from Korean and Japanese beauty lovers? Sheet masks. Essentially a facial in a package, these thin cotton sheets are packed with nourishing vitamins used to hydrate, prevent acne, brighten and more. Prices start as low as $1.49 per mask— an affordable way to treat yo’ self.
For more than 12 years, Foxy Moon Hair Gallery has been doing things just a little bit differently. One of the first locations in Halifax to join the Green Circle Salons, Foxy Moon works to be a sustainable salon, with green principles in dealing with the waste a salon produces. Eveyneia Dexter also stresses excellent customer service, ethical practices and, above all, incredibly high-quality services. A further example of Foxy Moon's commitment to being a green salon is the explicit use of eco-friendly products such as Aveda and, exclusively at Foxy Moon, Davines, promoting the concept of sustainable beauty. Foxy Moon has also recently opened a small boutique in the shop, which only carries eco-friendly beauty and home products. Foxy Moon Hair Gallery, 2725 Agricola Street
A combo package of small independent record label and vinyl-only retail store, Black Buffalo Records is all about local music. The label focuses on short-run limited seveninch 45s from local artists, while the store has a large collection of new and used records from a wide variety of genres.
Believing in the atmosphere of the north end, and its strong affinity for arts and music, Kevin Beal's space also affords touring and local bands a venue to perform, and he organizes record fairs twice a year. The next one is this Saturday, October 8 at the Halifax Forum Maritime Hall, 10am-4pm. Black Buffalo Records, 5576 Cornwallis Street
When you're looking to create incredible custom team jerseys, shirts for a group event, or you just have a cool design you want to put on a unique t-shirt for yourself, more often than not Fresh Prints is where you end up. Locally owned and operated for six years by Nigel Lutes and Joseph Fischer, Fresh Prints can do anything from an individual garment to a shipment of over 1,000 pieces.
Every staff member at Fresh Prints is an artist; whether it's a graphic designer, sketch artist or graffiti writer, everyone at the shop has a keen eye for design, and they are willing to share their knowledge.
They don't simply take your design and print it. Rather they are able to offer suggestions (if they have any) to improve a customer's design and introduce new brands and print applications/options to truly make your desired project stand out. Customer service at its finest. Fresh Prints Custom Screen Printing & Apparely, 2411 Agricola Street
A variety store that ties music, art and fashion all together, Lost & Found is essentially a vintage wonderland in Halifax's north end.
Launched by Jay Melanson and Sherry Lynn Jollymore, the store has spent years offering unique clothing items, local pieces and hand-picked handmade goods. Managed by Melanson's wife Anya Nordeen, the staff at Lost & Found are equally as creative and ambitious as the designers you'll find inside.
Lost & Found doesn't try to follow trends, but rather aims for the unique items—be it their ever-rotating line of unique dresses, locally made jewellery or music records—that will truly call out to you. Lost & Found, 2383 Agricola Street
Specializing in midcentury modern and Scandinavian designs, Abode is a furniture and home decor boutique that offers authentic, original pieces, reflecting an era that focused on quality materials and craftsmanship. Modern production from Normann Copenhagen, Dansk, Herman Miller and Mezzaluna Studio complement these original ideals of the 1950s and '60s.
A north end resident for more than a quarter century, Daun Windover has created a space with extensively researched products (with an effort to have many Canadian and local items as well), leading to an unparalleled level of quality and unique items, plus top-rate customer service, including plenty of parking and access to other design shops, solidifying the north end as a Halifax destination for furniture and design. Abode Boutique, 5881 Almon Street
Locally owned and operated with a staff comprised entirely of passionate cyclists, Cyclesmith offers the widest selection of products, with a focus solely on bicycles. Whether you're a commuter, road, hybrid, rails to trail, leisure cyclist or a mountain biker, Andrew Feenstra and his staff take great pride in offering great customer service and expert advice to help their customers get the most enjoyment out of their cycling experiences.
Halifax's north end is a very tight-knit community, and those ideals extend to Cyclesmith, where there's great cycling and awesome products available; they've created one of the strongest cycling communities in Atlantic Canada. Cyclesmith, 2553 Agricola Street
It started out as a weekend pop-up inside the venerable Gus' Pub, but Ace Burger became madly popular and took over Gus' kitchen permanently. It was a bold—but great—move, as one of three of Leo and George Christakos' eateries, it became one of the premiere burger shops in all of Halifax.
Inspired by big city street food stands and old-school burger joints of the late '40s and mid-'50s, Ace Burger puts an emphasis on tasty, handcrafted eats made from fresh, local ingredients—Slow Food Done Fast. The menu is simple and well-tuned, allowing customers to experience the flavours of each carefully constructed burger creation.
Go with the Classic or DeLuxe, or try a more adventurous creation. Have it solo or with a side, and grab a beer from the bar at Gus'—easy, simple and delicious. Ace Burger Company, 2605 Agricola Street
If you're looking for a cozy coffee shop in north end Halifax, look no farther than The Nook. Open seven days a week, the staff at The Nook don't just serve; they share your love for coffee, food and drink! Originally opened in November 2013, The Nook was taken over by Kathleen Healy, Adam Healy and Liesl Mulholland in June of 2015. Offering a variety of baked goods and freshly made food items, The Nook takes great care to have something to accommodate any dietary restriction.
More than just a coffee shop, however, The Nook also hosts fast-paced trivia nights, laid-back open mic events and more gatherings.
Grab a homemade raspberry Nutella square and locally roasted coffee, or share some of its wildly popular nachos. Whatever route you decide to go, your favourite little north end coffee shop has you covered! The Nook, 2118 Gottingen Street
A neighbourhood pub where you can go for a lunch break, after-work beer, casual evening dinner, weekend brunch or even late-night karaoke on Fridays and Saturdays, the Lion's Head Tavern is flexible enough to suit any social need.
Boasting friendly service, good food and a great variety of beers on tap, Lion's Head has been a north end mainstay for a long time, playing a key part in the recent growth and development of the area. Be sure to check out their incredible Tuesday wing nights, but visit anytime—the entire menu is loaded with options that are delicious every day of the week! Lion's Head Tavern, 3081 Robie Street
Opening on October 13, Halifax will have a new place to find delicious, fresh seafood, when Hooked Halifax officially opens its doors. Focusing on small-scale, sustainable seafood from Nova Scotia and all over Canada, the selection at Hooked Halifax will be based on what has landed that week.
Nova Scotia was built on smaller-scale, family-run fishing operations, and Hooked Halifax will stick to those partnerships, with all their seafood provided from reputable partners they know and trust from across the Hooked network, all of which practice sustainable fishing and fair trade.
Owned and operated by Dave Adler, Hooked Halifax works closely with chefs, and is even managed by local chef Annie Brace-Lavoie. So not only will you be getting the best quality of seafood such as local haddock, oysters, shrimp and wild BC salmon, but you'll also be also to get on-the-spot advice and suggestions on the best ways to prepare your seafood when you get home. It's the ultimate ocean-to-table experience! Hooked Halifax, 5783 Charles Street
Living up to its motto "REAL GOOD FOOD SERVED HERE," Hali Deli is a north end institution. Known for large portions, great value and 100 pounds of caramelized onions a week, Victor Fineberg offers a menu that is hard to replicate anywhere else. Preparing most items from scratch (thanks in part to his wife Sybil—the best cook he knows), Hali Deli strives for authentic flavours in a relaxed atmosphere.
Whether it's onions caramelizing for hours, sweet pickled brisket in a special brine for days (then steam for more than five hours) or potato latkes, expect incredible flavours when you walk through the door. And don't even think about going to Hali Deli and not having the matzah ball soup—made from scratch using stewing hens, it's just that good. Hali Deli, 2389 Agricola Street
FRED. is an affordable, boutique luxury destination, focusing on beauty and delivering the best possible customer experience. Opened by Fred Connors as a cafe, salon and art gallery in the north end 12 years ago, FRED. quickly became more more. It turned into a community gathering place, at a time when the area lacked one.
FRED. developed programs to open our doors to the community, and to those who had not experienced all the diversity the north end had to offer. A breakfast program for inner-city girls, community partnerships with Leave Out ViolencE, Adsum House and Stepping Stone, participation in neighbourhood festivals, events and more—FRED. is proud to have been an anchor in the north end.
Having moved from its flagship Agricola location, FRED. is now focusing its passion on beauty. With a feel more like the salon Connors created in New York City two years ago, the new FRED. is intimate, unexpected and extraordinary. FRED., 2713 Agricola Street
Halifax's north end is a one-of-a-kind community. You won't find many standard chain stores here, as the streets are filled with a vibrant, eclectic mix of small businesses, which focus on championing local food, drink, art and culture.
"What separates us is our diversity, history and community spirit—north enders are a special bunch," says Patricia Cuttell, executive director of the North End Business Association. "The north end is home to a lot of artists—musicians, poets, painters—and you can definitely pick up on that artistic, creative vibe when in the north end, especially as it has transformed into Halifax's design district."
The area has seen tremendous growth the last 10-plus years, and a big role in that was played by the North End Business Association. The association has advocated for better conditions to enhance economic growth—such as increased parking, improved cycling infrastructure and overall improving the aesthetics of the streets—and also hosts events that not only support the community, but expose others to everything the north end has to offer.
The growth isn't stopping either. With recently opened businesses such as Fibres of Life, LF Bakery and Agora, plus the construction of the Compass Distillery and renowned furniture and design shops Attica and P9 moving to the area, it still is—and will continue to be—exciting times for Halifax's north end. North End Business Association, 206-2099 Gottingen Street
Originally a staple of downtown Halifax, when it opened in the late 1940s, The Seahorse Tavern moved to the north end on New Year's Eve in 2014.
And then—just like now—what makes the Seahorse so iconic is that it doesn't adhere to any one style. From loud bands and dance parties to quiet concerts, comedy shows and any special event in between, the Seahorse has (and always will) embrace it all. The premier venue for live music and dance parties in Halifax, the Seahorse holds monthly dance parties ranging from Motown and Soul to '90s jams and its famous retro night, Halifax's oldest and original retro-themed party.
The Seahorse also has its sister venue upstairs—The Marquee Ballroom—which only enhances the atmosphere with additional great events and shows. The Seahorse Tavern, 2037 Gottingen Street
When Sarah Bannerman Andrews opened her own retail store in April, she was offering more than simply women's clothing and accessories and natural beauty products—she created a modern example of conscious consumerism,
Everything you'll find at Sattva Boutique was chosen based on four principles: Eco-aware practices or eco-friendly fabrics, ethical production, locally made (95 percent of its clothing is made in Canada) and socially responsible companies.
While the focus is on items that are modern that are comfortable, versatile and high-quality, such as Miik, Yoga Jeans, Jennifer Glasgow, Des Petit Haus and Province Apothecary, SattVa has created a social community that provides much, much more. Sattva Boutique, 2453 Agricola Street
The Alliance Française in Halifax has been in Nova Scotia since 1903, and is part of an international network founded in 1883 in Paris, France. A not-for-profit organization, Alliance Française Halifax serves as a French cultural centre (ranging from showings of French movies, guided tours and many other cultural events), an official examination and resource centre for DELF-DALF diplomas and, most important, a location to learn French as a second language.
Alliance Française Halifax offers French classes for every age and level. From toddlers as young as 19 months, to high school students, people looking for additional professional development and those looking to keep their mind sharp and acquire another hobby, Alliance Française Halifax combines small class sizes with expert instructors and a total immersion process, offering the highest-quality French language instruction available. Alliance Française Halifax, 5509 Young Street
Set to open January 2017, the Hydrostone's newest location for growing families and businesses alike is ready for north end residents to call home. St. Joseph's Square will boast roughly 6,000 square feet of commercial space, with 106 residential rental units—including suites and townhouses.
Developed by Dexel Developments and managed by Paramount Management, St. Joseph's Square is also acknowledging the history of the land it will be standing on—the building at one point in time was a church, and the old stained glass and reclaimed limestone will be incorporated into the building, mixing historic elements with modern comfort.
With interior amenities such as a fitness centre, residents' lounge, entertainment kitchen, resident workshop and an outdoor green space, St. Joseph's Square will only further the renaissance that north end Halifax is undergoing. St. Joseph's Square, 5450 Kaye Street
Exactly two years to the day after opening up shop at 1474 Brenton Street, consignment dress shop East of Montreal will re-open its doors at a new location this Saturday. At nearly double the size of its current spot, the next evolution of the boutique will call Sophie’s Place (5486 Spring Garden Road, the former location of Mills) home, alongside neighbours Casa Dante, House of Moda and Lily’s Lingerie.
“We were determined to stay in the downtown core,” says Linda Rand who owns East of Montreal with her longtime friend and fellow fashion enthusiast Leeanne Carson. “What we’re hoping is that we’ll get exposed to a whole group of people who didn’t know about us.” The extra space doesn’t just mean more room to make the brand name, gently-used dresses and other formalwear shine, but also opportunity to take more consignment pieces from the public.
Jay Aaron Roy is the owner of comic shop, and youth drop-in centre, Cape & Cowl Comics & Collectibles (536 Sackville Drive), which celebrates two years in business this week. We chatted about lessons learned, the importance of a strong community and why the shop will never leave the neighbourhood.
What is the biggest thing you’ve learned about running a small business?
I think really I learned a lot about myself, actually. I don’t have a staff yet. I have great volunteers that help me, but I am Cape & Cowl. I learned a lot in the first year, and basically double that in the second. You’re just thrown into so many situations in which you have to be able to think on your feet. People know I’m a well organized person, but there are just some things you can’t plan for. I’ve learned a lot about myself that way.
It’s incredible that after two years you’re still a one-person operation!
I think that’s why I say I’ve learned a lot about what I can handle. I’m very tired, but I’ve embraced this. I have so much energy, I don’t where to put it…but this has been a really great energy sink. I’m a colourful, organized person and that’s what my store is—colourful and organized.
You opened your business in Sackville, which is kind of off-the-beaten retail path. Why was the location important to you?
And let me tell you I’m paying the same, if not more, in rent, monthly what someone would pay on Spring Garden Road or Barrington Street. Out here even if you don’t have the foot traffic everyday, you have a dedicated community that will gather around you—and that’s why Jennifer Welcher organized the cash mob [in February], because my landlords aren’t connected to what’s going on here, but my community cares. They help me survive and stay.
Why is it important for you to stay in there, despite the issues with rent?
What’s important to me is that it’s my community, it’s my rural area. I grew up in Fall River and was keenly aware there was nothing out this way. And by nothing I don’t mean literally nothing, I mean next to nothing. Every now and then something would pop up but nothing would stay, and I mean something for the youth to do. Other than the McDonald's and the library there's nowhere to go and do anything, and I wanted to provide that. That’s where my heart is. I also love comics and literacy, but where my heart is is connecting with youth, helping them find something that will get them passionate. A lot of youth are my consignment artists, and volunteers.
What would you say has been your biggest challenge to overcome since opening?
I guess just dealing with the Big Business mentality, that’s been my struggle. People know me I’m loud, transparent and fight for what I believe in and that’s been the struggle, trying to run my business and fight those fights at the same time. But I don't know, I love going to work every day to see those faces, and see kids playing Nintendo, or having a good time at their parties And the drop-in centre, seeing youth just hang out—I have over 43 volunteers and I’m on a first-name basis with over 50 local kids. I like being in my community, really. For me, I love being the maestro. At this point, there are so many people involved in consignment, volunteering, running events— I really feel like the facilitator. I get the final say and that makes me happy, but there are so many other people involved and it just wouldn’t work without them.
What are your goals for the next two years?
Right now my battles with the landlord make it unknown if I’ll even be able to stay in the location I’m in, but whatever happens I will survive and Cape & Cowl will survive—I will find another location and the community will help me set that up. If we have to move anywhere, we’ll just be bigger and better, but we’re staying in Sackville, that’s for sure.
If you’re addicted to cruising Etsy, checking out cute, creative one-of-a-kind creations made by hand—you’re going to want to step away from your computer this weekend. You can do this.
After drawing nearly 15,000 shoppers last year, the Halifax edition of the Etsy Made In Canada market is back, this time taking over the Halifax Forum’s (2901 Windsor Street) Maritime Hall with over 100 Maritime Makers and their beautiful things. Each day (Saturday, September 24 and Sunday, September 25) will offer access to a different crew of crafters—a diverse lineup of folks like selling paper craft, fashion, jewellery, decor and beauty products—from 10am to 6pm, no clicking or scrolling required. And entry to the event is a cold, hard toonie.
Here are 10 local talents to look out for at the event:
1. Foxhound Collection
Small-batch, soy wax candles that burn for 40 hours and come in scents like wild honey and rose, grapefruit and fig, earl grey and brown sugar. You might feel like you want to eat them, but please burn them instead.
2. Lily Lake Knits
Jenny Fennell's handmade, 100 percent wool stuff to keep you cozy when this everlasting summer stops lasting.
3. 3rd Story Workshop
Andrea Tsang Jackson's wall-hangings and pillows are total gems. The colourful, geometric, modern quilted creations come in a bunch of birthstone designs and are also available for custom order.
4. Mule Mother Books
Handbound journals and daytimers of all sizes, fabrics and colours made by Ellen Murphy. Inspiration to start writing that memoir!
5. Equilibria Naturals
Organic, wild-crafted skin care and remedies, including facial masks, body butters and a variety of serums.
6. Ment Jewellery
Subtle but stunning, Ment makes a statement with its strong angles, clean lines and adorable adornments.
7. Daval Beauty
Pay local lip service via handmade, hydramatte lipsticks in a lineup of bold colours.
8. Field Day Paper
Send cute and thoughtful mail thanks to Joanna Close's illustrated stationery—flowers, foods and tasty recipes decorate her note cards.
9. Briana Corr Scott
Corr Scott's illustrated paper doll kits don't just come in adorable girl/mermaid/fairy form, there are narwals, sperm whales and stylish kitties in the mix, too.
10. The Tutu Experience
Halifax fashion master Mo Handahu's line of custom skirts and tutus is body positive, fashionable and freakin' fun.
Gavin Uhma is a bit of a legend in the local tech community. He’s the Halifax-via-Cape Breton guy who invented GoInstant, “co-browsing” software so good that it was bought in 2012 by the giant Salesforce.com, for a reported $70 million. After a stint with Salesforce that ended last October, his new business Sidestory just launched its namesake app in the iPhone App Store last week.
Sidestory is one of the start-ups with space at the Volta Labs hub in the Maritime Centre. Its sixth-floor office is simple and clean, dominated by a block of desks. Sitting at a corner beside the window, chief technology officer Ben Decoste is behind a giant monitor working on the app’s Android version. Beside him is designer Brian Jeffcock, responsible for Sidestory’s remarkably simple, clean interface. Opposite Jeffcock is Uhma, giving a visitor tips on the app’s features. This is the entire Sidestory team, on a mission to change the way the world uses their phones. No big deal.
Sidestory has a unique approach to sharing that exists at the intersection of two of the most popular types of apps, social media and messaging. Social media like Facebook and Instagram may be great at letting you share your life, but its goal of sharing with absolutely everyone leads to more curated, less honest posts. And while messaging is good for direct connections, its focus is on the short and pithy—Snapchat being a leading proponent in thinking of your life as disposable content.
“We don’t want that future,” says Uhma. With Sidestory, you can “create meaningful content, content worth keeping, but be selective about who is goes to.”
If you’ve got Sidestory, you can compose a “story”—adding photos, text or video is all pretty intuitive—and email or text it to anyone, even if they don’t have the app: The system will send a link for viewing your story online. And in a considerate bit of design, if that person does later get Sidestory, that story will appear in their archive for posterity. From the original group of 16 test users, Sidestory’s growth has been organic, word-of-mouth. not driven by marketing campaigns. “People are using the app because they like it,” Uhma says. “That’s super, super-validating for us.”
Everyone—and we mean everyone—has experienced Quinpool Road.
You're heading to the Armdale Rotary? The Emera Oval? Downtown Halifax? You're likely going through Quinpool. You're a Dal/King's student and you need, well, anything... you're going to Quinpool Road.
Quinpool Road is a unique area, as it's entirely focused off one large, arterial road. Housing an eclectic group of businesses, Quinpool features historically-entrenched restaurants, shops with specialized products, the common amenities, as well as newcomers to the scene, including Dilly Dally Coffee Cafe and Riot Snack Bar.
One theme that is constant among every locale on Quinpool Road is community. Everyone works together and everyone works to make the area an overall better place.
This includes the Paws Here on Quinpool campaign, which allows patrons to bring their dog into participating shops, as well as the upcoming Quinfest (this Saturday, September 17), which will feature games, food samplings, sidewalk sales and a doggy carnival.
A true pioneer of the food industry, King of Donair has been a staple of the Quinpool Road food scene since 1973.
Still sporting the same look, feel and delicious food as they did when they opened, KOD provides an old-school flavour combined with twists on the classic donair.
While their namesake donair is the main attraction, KOD has many other mouth-watering menu items to suit your preferences, including garlic fingers and pizza.
While it long has carried the stigma of a late-night meal, the donair is actually wonderful anytime, and the staff at KOD truly love seeing people—whether university frosh or retired seniors—coming in and experiencing their first donair...any time of the day. King of Donair, 6420 Quinpool Road
For Athens Restaurant, everything is based around family. Family owned and operated since 1982—nearly 35 years—Athens is run by Vange Panopalis (whose parents opened the restaurant and still help out), working hard to provide a low-key, enjoyable atmosphere for neighbourhood families to enjoy a delicious meal.
Athens helped spark the popularity of Greek cuisine within Halifax, powered by their famous souvlaki dishes (they have four or five different styles) and their perfection of succulent lamb dishes.
Athens also is open at 8am for breakfast, allowing customers to enjoy true Greek hospitality, regardless of what meal you're having. Athens Restaurant, 6273 Quinpool Road
When you're looking for a one-stop shop for holistic care and health-conscious products, look no further than Organic Earth Market. The largest health food store in Atlantic Canada, Organic Earth has spent more than 20 years offering typical groceries, organic supplements, bulk grains and fruit, locally sourced products, plus a number of weekly workshops and demonstrations.
Also offering a full juice bar and a coffee shop, Organic Earth has everything needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Nothing is more popular than their cosmic cookies, which are vegan and loaded with nutrients... they sell nearly 300 per week!
During the upcoming Quinfest (Saturday, September 17), Organic Earth with be providing samples of their vast product offerings. Organic Earth Market, 6487 Quinpool Road
Regardless of age, we all still have a creative itch that occasionally needs to be scratched. Thankfully, Clay Cafe is there to help us expand on that creative spark. A "Paint-Your-Own Pottery Studio," you can paint anything from figurines to plates, bowls and mugs (with more than 300 shapes to choose from). Paint your masterpiece in one sitting or spread it out over multiple visits, and then have owner Martin Ross and his staff glaze and fire your piece in one of their kilns.
All items at Clay Cafe are dishwasher- and microwave-safe, and they are open late so you can visit whenever is convenient for you... because let's be honest—where else can you relax, hang out with friends and have a coffee while creating your own personalized coffee mug? Clay Cafe, 6413 Quinpool Road
When Mike Munro and Maxine Jeffrey launched Therapeutic Approach, they strived to create an approach to health that is sustainable throughout their customer's lives. Munro, a physiotherapist and certified yoga teacher, and Jeffrey, a certified yoga teacher, occupational therapist, kinesiologist and currently studying osteopath, have a depth of knowledge, but they continually work to learn the most up-to-date techniques and wellness methods to provide the best care possible.
Closing in on two decades on Quinpool Road, Therapeutic Approach offers a yoga therapy program like no other. With Munro and Jeffrey able to be both health professionals and certified yoga teachers, they are able to provide proper diagnosis and easily address health concerns—leading towards their main goal of helping people be on the road to better health, all with a positive approach that is perfectly suited for each individual. Therapeutic Approach Health Centre, 6156 Quinpool Road
Oxford Learning offers a unique, innovative and educational service that goes beyond tutoring; the goal is to actively change people's lives with individualized education.
Oxford believes all children are capable of learning, regardless of any challenges they may face. The individualized nature of Oxford's programming has created years of success in helping students, even those facing the greatest learning struggles, overcome great obstacles and make serious academic gains.
Oxford's instructional model—known as interactive coaching—doesn't so much instruct a child as it does empower them to teach him or herself. Based on the science of cognitive development, this is a scientific approach to learning. At the time of inception, and even still today, this is a revolutionary approach to teaching and learning, and it had made a huge difference to struggling students for almost 30 years. Oxford Learning, 6270 Quinpool Road
Not to be confused with a yoga studio, Bhavana Yoga Boutique is best considered a "yoga emporium." Created to support all styles of yoga, Krista Watters' boutique has everything needed to support yoga practitioners–on and off the mat.
Offering bolsters, blocks, meditation supplies and books, Bhavana has whatever you need to extract the most out of your yoga experiences. Bhavana also offers Canadian-made clothing, Mala Collective devotional jewellery, plus workshops on Ayurvedic medicine - the sister science of yoga. Stop in to learn from Bhavana's on-site Ayurvedic practitioner and sign up for Ayurvedic workshops and talks on Aromatherapy as well as information on yoga classes offered in the community. Bhavana Yoga Boutique, 6252 Quinpool Rd
A truly iconic part of Quinpool Road, the Ardmore Tea Room traces its roots all the way back to 1958. An old-school style diner, the Ardmore offers classic breakfasts...starting at 5 a.m. every day. The staff at the Ardmore Tea Room believes in having a place that is absent of pretension; what you see is what you get, and the Ardmore is welcomes everyone to come in and feel comfortable enjoying their meal.
Closing in on 60 years of business, the Ardmore is one of the few places that can claim they've seen three generations of families grow up enjoying the Ardmore...especially their famous milkshakes. Ardmore Tea Room, 6499 Quinpool Rd
Motivated by a desire to provide delicious meals made from fresh, healthy and pure ingredients, Heartwood Restaurant embodies what a health food restaurant is meant to be. Open seven days a week, Heartwood owner Carrie Surette takes pride in having a vegetarian restaurant that combines a diverse, assorted menu with a warm and friendly atmosphere.
Quinpool Road boasts many locally-run businesses that offer some variety beyond the ordinary to Halifax, and Heartwood is no different. For more than 20 years, Heartwood has offered a welcoming environment to enjoy their vegan and vegetarian meals, including their Heartwood bowls: a satisfying combination of local organic greens, roasted veggies, seeds and a choice of sauce on a brown rice base. Heartwood Restaurant, 6250 Quinpool Rd
What happens when you combine locally-sourced ingredients, creative pizza combinations, gluten and vegan-friendly options plus a passion for all things pizza? You get Bramoso Pizza.
Closing in on a decade on Quinpool Road, Bramoso has a health-conscious and responsible-sourcing philosophy. Owner Dan Ryan believes that everyone deserves to eat wholesome food, delivered through truly inspired pizza creations.
Bramoso offers local wines and craft beer, as well as a genuine, yet open-minded approach to service, food and redefining what it means to enjoy a slice of pizza.
Bramoso is now expanding how to create an amazing guest experience, as they have completed the first stage of their craft beer bar. Check it out for exciting local draught, new menu items and old favourites. Bramoso Pizza, 6169 Quinpool Rd
After 10 years on Barrington Street, Attica Furnishings (1566 Barrington Street) is headed north. The 21-year-old contemporary furniture store—which actually got its start in the north end, on Gottingen Street—announced that as of late October it’ll move into the brand new, 8,000 square foot, ground floor space in the mixed-use Point North building at 3065 Robie Street. (For reference, that's next to the Lion’s Head Tavern).
“There are a number of factors,” says Attica’s co-founder Suzanne Saul of the move. “We’ve been in the this location for 10 years, eight of those years we had four floors. Before all the construction started it was fine, but in recent years it was a challenge getting people upstairs. I think with less traffic we noticed it more.”
The new location will allow Attica to operate on one floor—with 14-foot ceilings and what Saul calls a more “warehousey” feel—meaning a more efficient space for the shop’s ever-expanding design services and workshops, parking and prime visibility to the busy strip. Saul says it was important for Attica to stay on the peninsula, and being part of the growing north end retail scene is a bonus.
“Even though downtown has its challenges, there are great things about it too. And a lot of great people down here,” she says. “I’ll miss our neighbours. I’ve been coming downtown for 20 years!”
Attica hopes to lighten the load before the big move and will run a sale leading up to its departure from Barrington Street, watch for more on that here.
This Friday night at 7:30pm, the PHASE fashion show turns Halifax Central Library’s Paul O’Regan Hall into a runway, with models strutting the latest creations by three soon-to-be design grads from daVinci College. The students’ collections feature everything from understated, blue-and-black plus-size separates to lacy, Coachella-ready dresses inspired by Frank Ocean songs. One of the students designing for the show is Selasie Tagboto, whose childhood in Ghana partially inspired her minimalist-shaped, vividly-printed pieces. “My tagline is ‘to be as bold as you like,’ so I have pieces which are more complicated and pieces that are more simple,” she says.
1. "I always liked clothes and I liked fashion. I didn’t really know how to do design per se until I came to this school, but I would always get my mom to make things for me and go ‘Mom, can you make this for me but make it this way? I like this element and this element,’” says Tagboto. “So I like that I came here and now I can actually make what I see.”
2. Tagboto wanted the prints she used to be as authentic as possible, so she searched the internet for specific patterns and sent screen shots to family still living in Ghana. Her aunt picked up fabrics matching these examples from local markets. “I liked that when I saw the prints I was like ‘Oh, this will be perfect for this outfit and this will be perfect for this outfit,’ so it was the prints that inspired me to make these garments,” she says.
3. “I really like attention to details, so I looked at things like handbags and hats and thought ‘Oh this would be cool, what if I tried putting this on an outfit, how would that look?’” Tagboto says, highlighting this vest’s collar and pockets as examples.
Maggie MacCormick and Victoria Kristofic met in a NSCAD class, but you can blame their collaboration on the rainbow.
“Victoria had these great rainbow embroidery designs and she suggested to add them to a dress I had,” says MacCormick. “I sort of had this rainbow theme going with my work too. We share an aesthetic sensibility—she’s a little more refined than me in a way, she takes a cute design but takes it into this mature, muted place.”
MacCormick ended up bringing Kristofic’s hand-sewn design with her to India (where she spent four weeks this spring, working on her line Maggie Jayne) and had it machine-embroidered onto some of the pieces that make up her autumn collection. The entire 11-piece line-up—which includes Desert Pool, the collaboration with Kristofic— launches this weekend at The Chameleon (1587 Barrington Street) and MacCormick says its all about the uniform.
“It started with a schoolgirl thing, like Madeline. This winter I wanted to interpret the uniform in as many ways as I could.” The collection of basic, functional, utilitarian-inspired pieces includes sweaters, turtlenecks, crops and a badass flight suit. MacCormick says, for her, it feels like a stylish suit of armour. “I think about that every day—feeling like you’re putting something on that’s going to make you feel comfortable in the world.”
Maggie Jayne Autumn Collection Launch
The Chameleon, 1587 Barrington Street
Friday, September 9, 7-9pm
Saturday, September 10, 10am-7pm
The Board Room Game Cafe (1256 Barrington Street) wants to invite more players to the table. After three years of bringing fun and games—like hundreds of games—to downtown, the city’s first board game cafe/bar has announced it’ll open a second location later this fall, giving Haligonians another place to exercise their brains.
“We wanted to be accessible to a different part of the city,” says owner Kris Moulton of the upcoming expansion. “A lot of people don’t like driving downtown and parking can be a challenge. We hear a lot of people say they’ve heard of us but have never been.”
He hopes that’ll change in late fall, when the Board Room will welcome board-gamers from beyond the peninsula to its new spot at 932 Bedford Highway (the former Aplaydia Indoor Playground). Moulton says regulars can expect the same experience they’re used to on Barrington Street—good, clean, friendly competition.
“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
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