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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Soles for sale

Megan Wennberg browses for business news.

Posted By on Thu, Sep 14, 2006 at 10:46 AM

Active Underground opened September 1 at 2642 Agricola in the basement of the building formerly home to Factory 21 Used Cars. Owned by Gregg Curwin of Curwin Heath and Sport in the QEII, Oh My Sole on Young and Spring Fitness Centre on University, Active Underground will specialize in footwear. “It’s what our business is,” says manager Doug Benoit. “It started with pedorthics and we do a lot of orthotic business at our clinics, and from there we’ve established footwear…. Footwear, it’s what we know, it’s what we do, we’re all about feet.” Active Underground will be less focused on the orthodic side of the business, and will be primarily a discount (40 to 70 percent off) store for athletic and casual shoes. The store currently carries unsold stock from Curwin’s other locations, but “in the future we’ll be getting full lines and full size runs,” says Benoit, “it’s not just going to be older stocks from the other stores… We’re also taking advantage of close-outs and other deals some vendors might have.”

Where art meets technology

Cousins James Blanchard and Matt Belyea are combining their skills (Blanchard has six years experience in the building industry, from architectural and engineering firms to government project management), and two distinct approaches (Belyea is a lifelong artist), with their new business Art Tech Renderings. The business creates “accurate, hand-painted, 3-D architectural renderings,” modelled specifically on designs supplied by architectural films, contractors, real estate companies and homeowners. “It’s accurate, which is something that other people don’t necessarily do when they do renderings,” says Belyea. “We mock it up to their specs, their measurements, exactly what a firm will build.” And they can do it from any angle—“from a person who is 5’8” standing on the corner of Spring Garden, what will the building look like exactly,” says Belyea, giving an example. “That’s what the benefit is. We’re not just going, ‘here’s the one thing we think it will look like,’ we go, ‘this is exactly what it looks like, to the measurement.’” Belyea paints directly from Blanchard’s computer projections, marrying the technological accuracy of computer generated figures with a hand-made touch. “There’s not really anybody, at least that we’ve found, that combines the two that we’re offering,” says Belyea. “Computer generated get the point across, but nobody would frame one of those, everybody likes to see the nice work done.” For more info visit

Designs on success

Graphic designer and NSCAD Visual Communications grad Stephen Bishop is starting his own business, after years of working for various marketing/communications companies in Halifax and London. Hello Daylight will focus on design and development for businesses, through both graphic and website design. “I start with a small- to medium-sized business and start with their branding and take it entirely through to the website and to print and any promotional ,” says Bishop. The main benefit to having Bishop along for the whole ride is consistency. “That’s one of the reasons I went out on my own,” says Bishop. “You work in an agency, they only want you do to the big things—like the big website—and then after that you see all this other crap that they’ve done with other companies and none of it looks the same and it just gets completely messed up. I think that in order to do it right it all has to be managed with the same company, or at least creatively directed by the same person.” With Hello Daylight, Bishop is especially looking forward to making more time for “the fun stuff,” namely screen-printing for independent artists and musicians. For more information contact Bishop at 240-9722 or stand by for

Swap in the park

Ardene in Park Lane mall is expanding, with renovations expected to continue until next week. “We’re going to carry clothing now,” says Nova Scotia district manager Mary McCallum, “children’s clothing and adults—ladies, of course. We have sweatsuits, we have jeans, we have sweaters, we have hoodies….” Ardene has taken over the space formerly occupied by Maritime Travel, which has also expanded, moving into a larger space next door. “Maritime Travel bought out Atlantic American Express (formerly Mathers Travel on South Park) and then they decided to amalgamate the two offices because we were right around the corner from each other,” says manager Mary Lynn Cunningham. “There were only three of us in Park Lane, and now there’s 10 of us.” And as for the renovations? “It looks like Italy, it’s very nice.”

Bye bye Shop Talk

This will be my last Shop Talk column. I’ve been writing the column for over a year now, and I feel it’s time to move on. I want to thank all the business owners and managers I have spoken with for their enthusiasm and commitment to the city. It never ceases to amaze me that Halifax is able to provide fodder for a full page of business news week after week. I have enjoyed learning about the many and diverse services our city has to offer, and I look forward to continuing to do so as a regular reader. Finally, I want to correct two common misconceptions: 1) I don’t “get a lot of free shit,” and 2) I’m not that great to shop with because I don’t always remember where things are. And now on to hamsters…

Megan is gone, but Shop Talk goes on. Email:

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