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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Go local on Agricola Street

Our business column Shoptalk takes the long walk down Agricola Street so you can keep shopping local.

Posted By on Wed, Aug 5, 2009 at 8:43 PM

Stretching down from the north end, Agricola Street is a series of pauses, movements and environments. North of Young is the largely residential energy of the Hydrostone, but points south you’ll encounter the dominating presence of the Oland Brewery (3055 Agricola, 453-1867), then the distinguished formality of the antiques district just around Almon. Further south are a variety of boutiques, eateries and one of the last music venues in the north end, Gus’ Pub (2605 Agricola, 423-7786). But from north to south, Agricola speaks of neighbourhoods and communities, flavours and colours. Let’s take a walk.

Antiques row

The air-conditioning keeps things nice and comfortable in Fishing Fever (2858 Agricola, 454-2244) when it's a scorcher outside. The one-stop source for the keenest sporting angler, you'll find all you're looking for in knives, rods, reels, lures, lines and nets. The apparel collection includes Gore-Tex jackets, boots, hats, gloves and sunglasses. If you're a fishing layperson, you might be confused by the marabous, salmon wets and trolling streamers. Just ask, they'll explain.

The classy antique stores begin with Finer Things (2797 Agricola, 456-1412) at the corner of Almon, with the graceful model ships in the front window an indicator of the nautically themed items within. A little way down you'll find Geddes Furniture and Antiques (2739 Agricola, 454-7171), an oasis of dark wood and leather, linear and contemporary couches, tables and shelving units. McLelland Antiques & Restoration (2738 Agricola, 455-4545) also offers quality wooden pieces, but probably the first thing you'll notice is the extensive collection of lamps. Then there's Bellissimo (2743 Agricola, 423-6014), a lifestyle store with a very summery, light touch in its paintings, couches, mirrors, desks and accessories. Fabrics come courtesy of Abby's Fabric Shoppe, once a popular destination in the Hydrostone Market and now in-house here.

A new business on Agricola is Lily Pads Child Development Centre (2787 Agricola, 407-5459), opening in August and currently registering children aged 18 months to five years old. Give them a call or visit lilypadchildcare.com for more info.

Turning heads

The studio cooperative Turnstile Pottery (2733 Agricola, 431-2529) has been at its new location for a year and a half, and the classes are doing really well, says current president Lily Greer. Check them out during studio drop-in time on Thursdays 7:30-9pm, with minimal instruction, materials and firing included in a $16.95 expense. Or stop by for live model sculpture sessions, Tuesdays 8-9pm for $12 or $10 for illustrators. The studio is open for pottery sales on weekdays from 1-5pm and by chance on weekends for the rest of the summer.

In October 2008 Foxy Moon Hair Gallery (2725 Agricola, 444-7675) moved to its current location from down the street. Owner Evyeneia Manolakos has seen her business almost double since the move, necessitating the employment of an additional stylist and Saskia Roch, an aesthetician offering hand and nail treatments, lash and brow tinting and waxing.

Peak experience

There’s a brand new showroom at Peak Audio (2813 Agricola, 455-7325). It’s in the back, laid out like a comfortable, high-tech condo, armed to the teeth with the best entertainment tech, all discretely hidden and controlled with keypads and/or touch panels. Check out wall-mounted TVs hidden behind mirrors, or TVs that disappear into wooden hutches at the touch of a button. The room caters to the growing home-automation market, says Peak Audio manager Chris Sweet, who stresses the store still provides high-end audio equipment and service. “We’re expanding on that with the custom install thing,” he explains. “As the city grows you have more options available to you.” Sweet says the showroom will appeal to women more than the usual stereo and video components that attract a mostly a male customer base. “In here, women can see this is lighting, it’s ease of use. Complicated things controlled very simply,” he says. “The objection to big TVs is that it’s a big black thing. Women actually like big TVs, they just don’t want to live with them.”

Street eats and rides

The food options are excellent as you approach North Street. Try the Korean meals at Bach's Café (2622 Agricola, 455-4099) or the clams at Gus' Pub, the many Middle Eastern dishes available at the Mid-East Food Centre (2595 Agricola, 492-0958) or the delicious Latin American specialties available from the brand new Café Aroma Latino (5780 North, 444-8393). At FRED. beauty food art (2606 Agricola, 423-5400) there's art on the walls, a salon and an amazing, local-food supplied cafe, called Whet, as in your appetite. It's become known far and wide for its stellar cupcakes, the flavours always changing. On any day you might find vanilla ginger, chocolate peanut butter, red velvet chocolate, vanilla with Bailey's Irish Cream icing, chocolate walnut, lemon meringue, strawberry cheesecake, chocolate black pepper or chocolate balsamic.

Jack Nauss Bicycle Shop (2533 Agricola, 429-0024) is there for all your bicycle retail and repair needs, while Smith's Bakery and Cafe (2525 Agricola, 429-1393) has been serving the community since 1932, according to the emblem in the floor as you walk in. Across the way on Charles you can visit Heroine (5775 Agricola, 420-0328) for its designer women's clothing collection, but only by appointment in the summer.

Just down from Heroine, the baskets at Local Source Market (5783 Charles, 454-6014) are piled high with chubby organic tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, raspberries, cherries and organic purple green beans. (We know it sounds strange, but they are purple green beans.) They're also stacked with organic and free-range meats, and just started a bakery using organic butter and grains from Speerville in New Brunswick.

If you can't get your Local Source bread or pastries at the Charles Street location , try Just Us cafes on Barrington and Spring Garden, which they are now supplying.

Approaching the Common

The antiques store furthest south on Agricola is Parade Antiques (2454 Agricola, 452-3143), and is a bit of a different vibe than some to the north.

"The place is a shambles," says owner Stanley Andrews, who says he likes to sell things to students. "They seem to find interesting things here. I have a flair for finding things people enjoy, stuff that might be $10 or $500."

Though the name on the sign only changed recently, the former King Edward Inn is actually The Commons Inn (5780 West, 484-3466), "an affordable hotel in the centre of town," a staffer tells me.

At Lost & Found Art Vintage Kitsch (2383 Agricola, 446-5986) Chloe Gordon's handmade leather earrings that look like feathers are really hot right now, as are a line of local print t-shirts and girlie tanks called Wooden Bullets, Kyla Frances's glassware and Dada Pomo a design label that makes skirts out of men's dress shirts.

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