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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Shabby chic

TC Demaresq browses for business news.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 30, 2006 at 2:49 PM

Allie’s Costume Magic is moving, and a new shop is opening in its place. Pinky’s Shabby Chic Bintique opens today as a new business at 1272 Barrington, while the 20-year-old costume shop will move to a new location. Both shops are owned by Allie Edgecombe. “I want the decor in to be nice—there’s no reason why you should have to be in a place with white walls just because you’re buying ,” says Edgecombe, who will be running both stores. “It can still be pretty.” She says her downtown location means she’s catering to a more modern woman than the average used-clothing store, and she wants her product and environment to reflect that—but not the prices. “There are a lot of things I took into consideration when I did this. I’m sort of building from a girl’s point of view instead of a guy’s point of view.” Edgecombe built storage under all the bins, which will be priceless when she’s putting away the 4,000 pounds of clothes she bought from her supplier in Chicago. She also considered the finer details: Men are typically taller, so their bins are higher. Edgecombe guesses she has about 4,000 complete costumes in stock from the original store, not to mention all of the odd pieces she could put together to create even more choice. The move has meant countless hours of work and it’s not over yet: Once the clothing store is up and running, it’ll be time to get going on the new location for the costume shop. “It keeps me busy, to say the least,” says Edgecombe, who’s hardly had a day off since June. She says she’ll take some time off once the new store is open and before tackling the other one— “At least two whole days!”

Old, but not wilted

The Flower Shop Ltd. is celebrating its 70th anniversary as an independent Halifax business. Katherine Sharpe has owned the business for 15 years. “I worked for the lady who owned it before me,” she says, “and well, get in your blood and you have to keep going with it.” Sharpe says since she took over the store the internet has changed the way people buy flowers. More people are buying them but fewer come into the shop, which has been at 1796 Granville for 12 years. This is unfortunate, she says, because they miss out on the wonderful surroundings and the creative options available in the store. “It’s not a cookie-cutter environment. Our flowers are out and people can see them and choose them,” says Sharpe. “A client can pick out right along with the designer…there’s no secret design room, it’s all right here for the clients to see.” Designers at The Flower Shop Ltd. strive to offer creative, original pieces. “We’re putting each piece together as an individual piece,” says Sharpe, “as opposed to, OK, this is what I have to sell you. Do you want this one or that one?” Sharpe says after 22 years in the business, she continues to be amazed by flowers. But picking a favourite? Impossible. “You get in love with a colour and all of a sudden everything that’s purple is beautiful,” she says. “Or if I haven’t seen tulips for a long time…they just melt my heart.”

Fit like a king

Roger King urges people to “get with The Program.” Supplement King, a three-year-old internet company that delivers sports and fitness supplements to your door, opened its first storefront on Monday in Scotia Square Mall. “To lend credibility to this business, we are not just selling sports supplements,” says King, the owner. “We’re also, with each sale, giving a custom diet and exercise program.” Supplement King’s approach, called The Program, incorporates exercise, diet and supplements into one curriculum. There are programs written for 16 different goals, catering to both men and women in four different age groups. Personal trainers and dieticians are in the store to help customers develop their plans. King started his business as a student and says the increasing demand for health and fitness products and commitment to customer service has allowed the company to grow. “People can go anywhere and get a bottle of pills,” he says. “But when you come and shop at Supplement King, you’re actually going to get a trained staff member that’s going to custom fit this program to you.” Every purchase is accompanied by this service at no extra charge. “We’re just helping people to achieve any fitness goals that they’re looking for,” says King, “be it train for a marathon, pack on some extra muscle or increase their endurance. Whatever they want to do, we’re going to help them get there.”

Clay nation

Erin Hickey and her husband often spent time at the Clay Cafe in Halifax—now they can paint all they want. Hickey is the owner of a new Clay Cafe franchise at 570 Prince in Truro, the latest expansion for the Halifax-based chain. She says it feels good to be a part of something like the Clay Cafe. “The comment I hear most is that the town really needed something new and different.” The pottery-painting business began in Halifax and is now in its eighth year. The new location, which opened November 10, is the third franchise to open as an extension of the original metro location. The first franchise opened in Fredericton about four years ago and the other was introduced in Stratford, Ontario, this past summer. Nan Newhall, the owner and founder of Clay Cafe, says she didn’t set out to franchise her business. “People just kept contacting me and saying, ‘We want a Clay Cafe in our town,’” she says.

Expanding? Shrinking? just glad to be here? Email: shoptalk@thecoast.ca

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