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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Spyin' the Brian

Posted By on Thu, Oct 18, 2007 at 8:20 AM

Brian Mulroney at The Book Room? Could it be the former PM, toting his bulky memoirs in which he slams Pierre Trudeau and others, isn't drawing a crowd in Halifax? Quite the opposite, says Dawn Underwood, sales associate at the store. "The tickets have been going like hotcakes," she reports, adding about half the tickets have been snapped up already. Offering free tickets for Book Room readings is the norm, according to Underwood, because it prevents people showing up in droves at the door and having nowhere to sit. The store has already moved the event from a smaller space to the Imperial Room, which accommodates up to 450 people, at the Lord Nelson Hotel. "Some people are probably expecting a bit of a show," Underwood says. "He's never been shy." Nor is former PM Jean Chrétien, whose memoirs—complete with swipe at Paul Martin (his are due next year)—came out in the last couple of weeks. Underwood isn't sure if Chrétien could pack 'em in because there's "not as much water under the bridge. Mulroney is always popping in and out of the public eye."

Artistic differences

Speaking of signs, subtle signs of change at the Khyber, just down Barrington from The Book Room, may have gone unnoticed by most. The Khyber is known now as, and in full, The Khyber Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA). Gone is the "Centre for the Arts" label. Though not a business, the not-for-profit Khyber case demonstrates how, in marketing parlance, that kind of name change represents one small part of a re-branding strategy. New-ish (he started this past June) artistic director Brian MacNevin put the name change into effect after noticing, "In our memorandum of association we're called the Khyber Arts Society. Somewhere along the way "Centre for the Arts' was tacked on. But it's nowhere written down in our legal documents," he says. MacNevin points out that ICAs exist all over North America and Europe and, as a rule, these organizations host visual art, theatre, literary, film/video events under one roof—always with "sensitivity to all the different programming that goes on in the building at any given time." MacNevin also reconfigured the Khyber's logo, dropping the line drawing of the turret and going with the capital K. "I didn't want our name associated so literally with a graphic of the front of the building." Currently, HRM owns the building and the Khyber Arts Society rents out the Ballroom Gallery and office space, but MacNevin continues to negotiate with city staff about how to bring programming to the other spaces (namely the oh-so-silent bar and the darkened Turret Room) while respecting HRM's liability concerns.

CEED money

The Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development's (CEED) recently gave some smart businesses due recognition. The organization handed out awards in two categories: Students in Business Program and Nova Scotia Seed Capital Program—two programs CEED funds. According to Gary Peitzsche, CEED loans officer, "Each of the award-winners saw something lacking in their community or area, and started their business to fill that need. For example, Janet Ozon started the Adelaide Respite Inn as a result of her experiences with the health care system while her mother was dying of cancer." The Adelaide Respite Inn is in Waverly and received the Nova Scotia Seed Capital Program for Innovation. There was a tie for the Community Impact Award between Halifax-based Coastal Trilling Reforestation, owned by Mark Chisolm, and East Coast Outfitters, Lower Prospect, owned by David Adler. Peitzsche says Coastal Trilling "works to replant forest that has been lost through logging, extreme weather, disease, etc. throughout Nova Scotia." This year, Coastal Trilling has planted 15,000 trees in Point Pleasant Park, in addition to "eight million seedlings planted to date" throughout the province. According to Peitzsche, CEED also liked that Coastal Trilling hires some 52 students each summer. The Entrepreneur of the Year Award went to Matthew Ingraham of Mathew Ingraham Productions in Sydney, Cape Breton. Finally, closer to home, Talay Thai (specifically Jimmy and Kim Dao) won the Business of the Year Award.

Let's go streaking

Environmentally based businesses create opportunities everywhere. Norna O'Brien runs recently launched Streak Free Canada from her home in Lower Sackville and has distributors and demonstrators right across the country. The product: cloths made from "microfibre" polyester. They are, according to the information at streakfree.ca, "half of the thickness of silk and 100 times finer than a human hair. A micro-fibre is the tiniest man-made fibre ever created. The tiny fibres are pressed and split into 16 sections with 16 intervals." In short, that's fine work. "I was given one by a friend and when I saw how well they cleaned and how easily with just hot water, I found out where they came from and here I am," explains O'Brien. You read right: these cloths don't need cleansers for mirrors, windows, floors: even the burnt rubber off your motorcyle's exhaust pipe! Email info@streakfree.ca.

Redecorate this column. Email shoptalk@thecoast.ca with your hot biz tips.

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