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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Rolling for dollars

TC Demaresq browses for business news.

Posted By on Thu, Sep 28, 2006 at 9:09 AM

The Rolling Stones have come and gone, but a few local business owners are still buzzing over their surprise rendezvous with several Stones band members. Lil MacPherson, co-founder of the Wooden Monkey, received a frenzied phone call Friday afternoon from her business partner telling her Stones guitarist Ron Wood and his wife would be dining at the Monkey that night. While MacPherson drove like a maniac from Pictou County, Wood’s bodyguard walked in the Monkey to check the place out beforehand. MacPherson left her car in the middle of Argyle in time to greet Wood, who ate a local-beef sandwich, and his wife Jo, who happens to be big supporter of organics. MacPherson’s hospitality garnered her a VIP pass to the concert the next night, where she met the band backstage.

“Well before the show, I was led down an empty hallway past a curtain into the band’s funky dressing room,” says MacPherson. “There was a huge snooker table and beautiful linens on the wall. I had prepared the band a blueberry pie, and they were all eating the freakin’ pie! I told Charlie Watts, ‘You better brush your teeth before you go out and play, because you’ve got blue all over your lips.’ He just gave me a big blueberry smile. And then, just before I left, Wood grabbed my cheeks and gave me a big kiss and said, ‘Right on, Monkey lady!’”

Mick Jagger’s surprise visit to a full house at Onyx was a much more low-key affair. The manager, Melissa Carey, says Jagger arrived at the restaurant at around 9:45pm on Friday, bodyguard in tow. “It was packed in here when he came in,” she says. “He sat in a booth at the front. It was fun to watch everybody’s reaction.” Jagger ordered the duck confit and a bottle of wine and later made a graceful exit. “The restaurant had been noisy the whole time. When he left, the music cut off, because the CD was being changed. Perfect timing. He stood up and the whole restaurant went completely silent. People stood up and they clapped, and they thanked him for coming to Halifax. blew everyone a little kiss and gave a little wave and left the building.”

With a little luck

How many times have you entered a ritzy jewellery store just to look around, only to be ignored by a crusty and quick-to-judge manager? That’s exactly the kind of atmosphere sisters and co-founders Jennifer and Melissa Huntley hope to avert with Lady Luck Boutique, their new women’s jewellery and handbag store at 1869 Upper Water Street in the Historic Properties. “We made it so that it’s not intimidating for people to come in and try things on,” says Jennifer about the boutique, which just had its grand opening. “We’ve got a lot of jewellery out on bureaus. You don’t have to ask to touch anything. It’s a really laid-back atmosphere; very non-traditional and homey. Our walls are adorned with the oil paintings of Mike Lewis .”

The Huntleys say the store’s creation grew out of a desire to combat most stores’ habit of overcharging on jewellery and handbags. “What sets us apart from the rest, to name a few things, is that we have eight local jewellers, locally handmade scarves and soy candles hand-poured by a woman in Sambro Head,” says Melissa. “We also recently received a selection of ‘Sex and the City’–inspired handbags from Italy. We like to think of our motto as, ‘There’s something for the kitten or cougar in every woman.’”

Vashti commands you

Few hairstylists can credit the creation of their businesses to a banished queen from the Old Testament, but Pamela Kennedy is one of them. Kennedy is the owner of Vashti’s Oasis, a salon specializing in hair colouring that opened this summer at 6218 Quinpool. She says she drew inspiration from Queen Vashti of the Book of Esther when thinking of the kind of atmosphere she wanted to create in her salon.

“Vashti was summoned by the King to dance naked in front of him and all his drunken buddies,” says Kennedy. “And she refused, of course. She was subsequently banished and lost everything—her home, her title, her kids. But in my opinion, Vashti kept her dignity and her self-respect, so it’s kind of my little mantra for the shop; to make a place where women can have control over their lives.”

Kennedy, who has been in the hairstyling business for 12 years and teaches for the Goldwell coloring company on weekends, says the store’s decor is meant to be relaxing, with turquoise and chocolate brown colours, wooden floors and a big leather couch. “I always wanted Vashti’s Oasis to be that place where you could come and be yourself and if you’re feeling down, you could be rejuvenated.”

One is not the loneliest number

A new Warehouse One location opened in the Bedford Mall last week. The store opening is one of several in the last six months for the company, which has launched an expansion program into the east coast. And while the new location’s manager, Tracy Skanes-Shrum, says the tried and true staples of Warehouse One—such as jeans and jean-related accessories—can be found in the store, the target audience for the store is very broad. “We don’t just serve the 25-to-35 bracket,” says Skanes-Shrum. “We have something for everyone.”

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