Local business and consumer news. Openings, closings, deals, sales, what to buy and where to buy it, we round it all up and give you an insider's shopper's special on small business in Halifax. Contact shoptalk@thecoast.ca to send a tip.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Frankie’s Espresso Bar is on fire

How an old fire truck became Halifax’s roving percent plant based cafe.

Posted By on Wed, Jul 31, 2019 at 1:46 PM

Jill Mulveney and the fire truck she (and Adam Otmar) converted into their big-little coffee shop - SUBMITTED
  • Jill Mulveney and the fire truck she (and Adam Otmar) converted into their big-little coffee shop

It was about a year ago that Adam Otmar and Jill Mulveney had the idea to run a little coffee shop out of the back of a bus. The two veteran baristas envisioned a sustainable mobile cafe in a small school bus, but struggled to find something tall enough to accommodate their north of 5'10" heights. With a gut feeling, the couple bid on a decades-old, adorably squat fire truck in an online auction—without seeing it in person—and won. Six months later, after bringing it from Kingston, Ontario to Otmar's hometown of Hubley, the bright red, boxy rig is now Frankie's Espresso Bar.

"We've both been really interested in cafe culture and cafes that create ambience—it's more about that than coffee in general. That feeling you get when you're in a nice warm, welcoming cafe," says Otmar. "That's the drive behind what we're doing, creating that atmosphere and ambience but in a more mobile setting."

Together the pair, inspired by many of the inefficiently laid-out cafes they'd worked in, designed and renovated the truck themselves, making the very most of the compact space. The truck itself was in good shape, save for broken blinkers and a busted alternator, making the beautification process fairly easy.


"We wanted it white, bright and open," says Otmar. "We serve out of the back door so you can see the whole truck, making it seem as big as possible."

Apart from the whole firetruck thing, Frankie's also stands out because of its 100 percent plant-based menu. Every single drink is made sans-dairy products, and Otmar and Mulveney bake all of the vegan and gluten-free cookies, doughnuts and macaroons themselves.

"We try to eat as locally and consciously as we can, but another thing we learned from working in coffee shops is the amount of dairy milk they go through in a day," says Otmar. "We were off put by it, it could be 20 to 30 litres of milk a day for a small cafe. We decided if we were to open something, we'd want to be different."

For now, Frankie's is parked at the Tantallon Farmers' Market (16 Sonnys Road, Upper Tantallon) on Tuesdays from 2-6pm, and its owners are working hard to secure more parking spots in the city. Keep tabs on its whereabouts, special event appearances and general cuteness via @frankiethefiretruck.


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Wednesday, July 24, 2019


Style meets substance on Spring Garden Road and its surrounding blocks. The area’s awesome local businesses, like the ones featured here, make every visit rewarding.

Posted on Wed, Jul 24, 2019 at 2:14 PM

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The Italian Experience

Work up an appetite on your summer stroll through the Public Gardens and wander over to the other side...of the Atlantic. Your nose isn't fooling you—that's a little slice of Italy tempting you with dinner over at Mappatura Bistro.

Take a seat on the new patio, close your eyes and imagine the cobblestone beneath your chair. We recommend starting off with one of Mappatura's daily featured spritzes, which is similar to an Aperol spritz but with a variety of amaros. You'll be swept away with that first sip of bitter-sweet bubbly tickling your tongue.

Their friendly staff know a thing or two about choreographing a genuine Italian experience. Come back when you can stretch the meal to last a lively Italian-styled afternoon (because who wouldn't want to take a two-hour lunch?). When your boss asks, blame it on the delicious calamari overload—guaranteed they'll be joining you for some famous carbonara, house-made pastas and oysters the next time around.
Mappatura Bistro, 5883 Spring Garden Road

Shopping With Heart

You'll go into Sweet Pea Boutique in search of that perfect dress, but you'll leave with a little more than material goodies. Sweet Pea transcends the traditional shopping experience; owner Johanna Galipeau initiates these intimate moments with clients that make them feel special from the minute they walk in.

The reasonable prices are just a bonus to Sweet Pea's joyful smiles and personable service. Galipeau's boutique leads us through the fashion industry with heart—what really makes the store stand out is that it carries a small quantity of each style.

Whether you're after that perfect jumpsuit or beachy dress to throw over after a day of fun in the sun, no two outfits are alike. Say goodbye to seeing someone wearing that same outfit to a party—these looks are curated especially for you, so that you can express your unique flare through fashion.

Your style will scream "high-end big city boutique," but your wallet will be hometown happy.
Sweet Pea Boutique, 1542 Queen Street

Atlantic Community

If you've ever wondered where your neighbours are spending their mornings, we guarantee they've grabbed their coffee and are down at Atlantic News to find their favourite read. Atlantic News has been a staple in the community for 45 years, bringing locals their exclusive morning papers like The Globe and Mail or the Sunday New York Times.

The employees love starting their days through meaningful conversations with new and long-term customers about politics and literature. All worldviews are welcome at Atlantic News, and did we mention they're dog-friendly too?

Even though it'll always be a magazine store, Atlantic News likes to stay ahead of the curve and follow the readers' interests. Its stock is specially curated to carry one-of-a-kind products like the famous art cards and newly expanded eccentric book selection: You can find the beautiful poetry of Donald Trump or the life coach advice of Putin. Now that's something you don't hear every day.
Atlantic News, 5560 Morris Street

Hop Into Adventure

Watch all of your worries hop away when you eat and drink like a true local at The Fickle Frog Pub. Grab one of its 26 beer options and take a sip of a Halifax staple. With the Frog's daily pint specials, you can come back and try a new brew every day.

The Fickle Frog makes it worth your while to get out of your comfort zone. You can trust that it's always a good surprise when you dive into their Burger of the Week combinations—they'll have you jumping out of your seat.

The Fickle Frog doesn't just live for the weekends, it hosts plenty of activities for you weekday adventure-seekers. Sing your heart out at Tuesday Karaoke, laugh until you cry with The Pickled Frog Comedy Show on Mondays or stop in for a live local band on most nights.

Don't just take our word for it: You'll have to hop down to the pub and experience the fun at the Frog for yourself.
The Fickle Frog, 5675 Spring Garden Road


Swap your traditional workout for Aerial Silks and transform your fitness experience at inesS. It's not just about landing the trick—it's about having fun and leaving the space feeling confident in your body.

Let your kids in on the fun and sign them up for inesS' Circus Camp. They'll create wonderful memories, make new friends and gain circus skills. They'll be jumping for joy, and you'll do a flip or two when you see how much fun they're having!

Classes and personal training are accessible for all bodies and fitness levels, including barre, pilates reformer, aerial yoga and more. Whether you're brave enough to fly 20 feet in the sky, or if you'd rather keep your feet planted, there's a place for you at inesS. 

Catch inesS' talented staff in flying action in Entangled at the Fringe Festival this August. You'll take one look at the fun they're having and be inspired to join the aerial community.
1535 Dresden Row, Suite 203

Lunch is Served

Forgot your lunch? In a rush? Let Pete's Frootique & Fine Foods handle it. Pete's ready-made options, and custom-made salads and sandwiches, are take-out easy, mixed with the wholesome comfort of a homecooked meal. Get out of your chair, stretch your legs and fire up the rest of your day with something nutritious and delicious.

Pete's Frootique accommodates dietary lifestyles from vegan to gluten-free. Its Gluten Free Eatery proves that "gluten-free" doesn't have to be "flavour-free." The gf kitchen cooks up tasty and unique options that are safe from any cross-contamination.

This Spring Garden market is perfect for those students living downtown. With Pete's Frootique's 10 percent off deal for students on Saturdays, you can afford to throw in a few extra avocadoes and brain-fuelling snacks for later.
Pete's Frootique & Fine Foods 1515 Dresden Row

Inhaling Education, Exhaling Misconceptions

There are many misunderstandings in the cannabis world. People are craving knowledge, clarity and a comfortable place to ask their questions, from "What's the difference between CBD and THC?" to "What do all the small percentages on the packages mean?"

Breathing Green Solutions, Nova Scotia's first licensed cannabis producers and growers of SKOSHA brand of recreational cannabis, have opened an education centre where clients can come in with their list of questions, and leave feeling empowered about their cannabis choices.

The SKOSHA centre will serve as a dynamic space that combines education with a curated selection of retail cannabis accessories provided by the east coast chain Mary Janes. Guests who are 19-plus can explore the learning space while enjoying a cup of locally roasted Anchored Coffee.

The education centre is the first of its kind in the Atlantic provinces and features a wealth of cannabis education including infographics, books and magazines. Its friendly and knowledgeable staff provide customers with a comfortable cannabis learning experience.
The SKOSHA Education Centre, 5553 Clyde Street

The Place to Be

Spring Garden Road is home to 280 metres of fun—and that's just the main drag. There are over 150 shops for tourists to discover for the first time and for locals to become reacquainted with. When was the last time you went exploring down Spring Garden?

Every window along the way is filled with decadent treats that'll make you stop in your tracks. Whether your foodie palette is tempted by worldly tastes, or you've been itching for a new clothing piece to add to the mix, the area delivers with its international restaurants and unique clothing and gift shops.

Spring Garden isn't just a host for good eats and shops—the area is filled with new experiences all year round.

Between the Children's Festival in August, Bark in the Park in September and the signature Shopping Under the Stars event in November and December, Spring Garden is, and always has been, the place to be.
Spring Garden Area Business Association, 5670 Spring Garden Road, Suite 609

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Safer Space Massage caters to all bodies and identities

Massage therapist Leah Inman wants to fill a void in the queer community.

Posted By on Wed, Jul 17, 2019 at 1:24 PM


Safer Space Massage Therapy
Online booking is available here

Six months ago, Leah Inman dove into a business idea by starting a massage clinic run out of their Fairview home.

"I've always been very entrepreneurial," Inman says. "I love working for myself, making my own hours. And it just made sense for me to try and break into my own massage business."

Inman is a Registered Massage Therapist who identifies as queer and sometimes uses gender-neutral pronouns.

"It's queer-focused therapeutic massage. I really try and cater to folks that maybe don't feel as comfortable in a traditional medical setting," she explains.

In massage school, Inman says some classmates would voice their annoyance with and lack of understanding of the needs of clients in the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

"Being a queer person, it was really hard to see how people talk about queer people. I was sad to see my colleagues or my classmates complain about it or make it seem like it wasn't OK," Inman says.

Upon graduation, Inman began working at Massage Addict in downtown Halifax. But this past February she also opened Safer Space Massage Therapy.


"I just wanted to create a space where I myself would feel comfortable, along with my friends, my queer community," she says. When she first started Safer Space Massage, Inman reached out to consult people in the local queer community on how to make the practice welcoming for everyone.

"As a feminine-presenting white person I wanted to make sure that my space was as comfortable as it could be," she says. Clients "know that when they come here, they're going to be comfortable, their pronouns are going to be correct, their names are going to be correct."

Inman says about 95 percent of her clients identify somewhere on the 2SLGBTQ+ spectrum, and about 60 percent are trans.

"There's really nothing in the Maritimes that specifically caters to queer folks. There are lots of queer-friendly places but I think having a queer-centred business makes it even more comfortable for people," Inman says.

While she's tried to learn as much as they can, Inman says she's always open to improving.

"I've learned and gotten education on how to treat specific injuries, or any dysfunction associated with things like wearing a binder or chest surgery," she says. "Any way that I can make this more comfortable for people, I want to know."

Safer Space Massage sees eight to 10 clients each week, and is gaining new customers every month. Massages at Safer Space are priced on a sliding pay scale—$65 for an hour for first-time clients, with direct billing options available.

"I was expecting to have maybe three or four clients, but even in my first month I had 15," Inman says. "By the end of the year, I want to be just focused here."

Later this month, Safer Space will be partnering with Halifax Pride by offering free massages at the Community Market. Eventually, Inman hopes Safer Space can offer a whole range of wellness needs.

"Physio, chiro, I even have friends who are hairdressers. I think we can really create safer spaces in all different ways," she says. "But for now I'm very happy just seeing where my massage business goes."

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Steph McNair prioritizes non-binary beauty with Maneland

After 10 years working in hair, the Halifax artist and stylist debuts her own space.

Posted By on Wed, Jul 17, 2019 at 12:51 PM

“That’s my goal,” says McNair. “To just let people be.” - RACHEL MCGRATH
  • “That’s my goal,” says McNair. “To just let people be.”

1528 Queen Street

Getting entangled in the world of hair was something of a surprise for Steph McNair. While making a living working in art galleries and as a carpenter, the visual artist—inspired by a good friend's at-home salon—applied to go to hair school on a whim, and got in.

"I never went to salons. I was cutting my own hair and my cuts were like kitchen cuts, and sort of very intuitive," she says. "And people liked it so I thought, maybe I could do this as a career.

"I really liked the art or the craft of it— I'm still obsessed with getting technically better—but another part of getting into it was that I didn't feel like there was a place for me per se, or at least that I didn't feel comfortable. I would go in looking for a men's cut and they would maybe do some version of that, but always at the end would be feminizing it in a way."

That was 10 years ago. Since then, McNair's been an educator at Calgary's Aveda Institute, made a name for herself and her cuts at local salons and now is gearing up to move forward by opening a place of her own: Maneland Non-Binary Beauty. Taking over one of Vintage Row's colourful saltbox houses—the green one—McNair, who's currently in renovation mode, will offer a sneak peek of what's to come with a soft opening from July 18 to 28.

"It's a place for people who are non-binary or don't feel bound to one beauty standard," says McNair of the space, where acceptance and accessibility (including price point) are high priority. "Hopefully they'll be able to feel it's coming from that perspective first, instead of walking into somewhere and being like, 'OK I have to navigate through the cis world.'"

McNair wanted to open Maneland not just to create a space where her clients were seen and understood, but fellow folks working in the industry as well. She hopes to be able to offer apprenticeships and mentorships to up-and-comers who might feel like they don't fit into the mainstream beauty world.

"Not to say there's anything wrong with salons, but getting into the industry was challenging and still is challenging 10 years later," she says. "Even that word 'beautiful,' or 'beauty,' I used that word because it's sort of loaded. In some ways it's very feminine, but I wanted it to be like—no, you can feel like a beautiful person in your truest sense. That's my goal, to just let people be...and listen to them."

After the soft stint in July, Maneland will go on pause while McNair heads to New York, where she'll link up with inspiring stylists doing similar work at gender-neutral barbershops Hairari and Manetamed. She expects the salon to be back in action and in full swing on Queen Street by late summer.

"I think it's an honour to have somebody give over their trust to you. I like being able to take someone's often verbal descriptions and maybe a couple of pictures of what they like or don't like, and just creating a growing sculpture," she says. "Just like in art there are principles of design in haircutting, that was one of the first things that was like, 'Oh this is an art,' that made me think, this is my medium. I never finished art school in part because I was always searching for the right medium—I liked mixed media—and I think this is a good one."

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

NS Kayak and ATV Outside Adventure Tours heads "out and away"

Chris White's sees his personalized kayak trips as a tool for adventure

Posted By on Thu, Jul 11, 2019 at 5:00 AM

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When Chris White was downsized from his outside sales job in 2017, he started thinking about what was next, how he would reinvent himself and what made him really happy. He took on a job as a bus driver for the flexibility to be active and outdoors—and wound up loving it—but this summer, he’s following his sense of adventure one step further. Next week, White officially launches his indie tour company, Nova Scotia Kayak and ATV Outside Adventures, inspired by the trips and treks he takes on his own.

“I’ve always been kayaking and for the last couple of years, even before I got downsized, I was thinking of something when I got to retirement,” he says of the idea. “I want to take people out and away.”

White’s packages are a bit choose-your-own-adventure style. “It’s going to be like putting a little puzzle together,” he says. “I’ll be getting people to tell me what they like to do.” Through the week, he plans to head out on kayak trips and will let his guests dictate where to go, whether it’s as close as Long Lake or anywhere from Sambro to the south shore’s epic coast. Packages range in length and can include food too—White is happy to cook up sandwiches and tea, barbecue and lobster boil or even brunch after a morning on the water. He can accommodate up to four passengers and does pickups anywhere in the HRM.

On the weekends, he’ll take it to the next level, offering premium trips for two that include transportation to the water on his side-by-side (in other words, a four-seater ATV). White says it isn’t a spectator sport—as a one-person operation, he expects his participants to, well, participate.

“I’m not teaching kayaking as much as I’m using it as a tool for adventure,” he says. “There are a lot of great kayak spots around, I’ve learned by going to them. When you’re in a kayak you’re the only one out there a lot of the time. You see the wildlife, you’re really out there in nature.” Find more info on White’s packages at nsoa.ca.
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Halifax’s downtown is the business capital of Atlantic Canada, a place of bank towers and bustle. But savvy visitors can find boutique experiences here too, the sort of shops, services and tastes that make Halifax unique.

Posted on Thu, Jul 11, 2019 at 1:00 AM

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A Local Treasure
Having recently celebrated its eighth birthday, Inkwell Modern Handmade is recognized as a fixture of downtown. Inkwell makes gifting a meaningful piece of home easy and personal. The shop is known for filling in our blanks with poetic text and quirky designs to celebrate any occasion. Tug at your significant other's heart strings or call on your wedding party in a memorable way—you'll find the right words among Inkwell's 200-plus handmade artists.

Inkwell's expanding selection of Canadian-made goods includes local food and pottery items, from tea and gourmet chocolates to fun containers for your farm-fresh finds like berries and eggs. You'll also recognize your favourite Nova Scotian artists in the mix, including local treasure Emma FitzGerald.

If you've been waiting for your chance to take a spin on Inkwell's century-old letterpress, Saturday, July 20 is your chance! In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo Lunar Landing, you can print your own complimentary moon-themed souvenir for yourself or your lunar-loving pal.
Inkwell Modern Handmade,  2011 Brunswick Street

Freshen Up Your Eyecare Routine
Wearing frames is about more than achieving that refined look, but it doesn't hurt to look a little stylish while prioritizing your eyecare.

Ocean Optometry has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to cutting-edge frames, and with its investments in eyecare technology like Digital Retinal Photographs and Optical Coherence Tomography Imaging, you can know they're doing the same with your vision health.

Just like your personal style, your eyes are one-of-a-kind and deserve excellent assessments. Ocean Optometry's tailored approach to identifying your individual needs transcends a couple of "box checks" on a list. Its in-depth Q&As allows the shop to get to know you, all while providing you with premium updates that can help you stay on top of your eyecare.

Their frictionless experience in a relaxed atmosphere, combined with the luxury of booking online and enjoying complimentary parking downtown, makes for a great reason to freshen up your routine and take a dip in the ocean.
Ocean Optometry, 5240 Blowers Street

A Dessert to Remember
Are you waffle lovers ready to think outside the box and let your taste buds burst with a new dessert experience at Cafe Taiyaki 52?

This isn't a typo for teriyaki—taiyaki is a traditional Japanese dessert found right in downtown Halifax. This hybrid version of a Western waffle or pancake is baked golden brown, fluffed with carefully chosen ingredients and packed with sweet flavourful fillings.

You can indulge in the adorable cafe's spin on the signature sweet eats, like their bite-size Mini Gangs, or cool off with the Jaw Dropper, soft-serve mango or matcha ice cream swirled into a fish-shaped cone.

This bright, positive and uniquely lovely cafe is ready to show Halifax a dessert like no other. Give in to the temptation and stop by Taiyaki 52 for a Java Blend coffee and dessert, or take the fishy fun home to your family for an after-supper treat. There's nothing like dessert to foster sweet memorable moments together.
Cafe Taiyaki 52, 2009 Brunswick Street

Live Music at Your Fingertips
Grab your foodie friends and "sip and share" a bottle of rosé paired with a dozen oysters this patio season at The Carleton. Its happy hour offers enough mix 'n' match small plates to satisfy everyone's post-work summer cravings.

Newly renovated, The Carleton radiates historic charm in the heart of the city. Widely known as one of Atlantic Canada's premiere live music venues, you can almost always expect to hear tunes when you walk through their doors. The Dinner at The Carleton series marries the two things we all love most—delicious food and great tunes (local, national and international).

The Carleton's fresh, locally inspired, and elevated comfort food is brought to life by chef Michael Dolente, silver medallist in Canada's Culinary Championship 2018 for Nova Scotia. His friendly chef-brewmaster Craft Draught Showdown, which happens every two months, is just one example of why The Carleton is one of the most intriguing and popular downtown destinations.
The Carleton, 1685 Argyle Street

Pour Me a Glass of History
Explore the past with Compass Distillers and its new off-the-beaten-path partnership with the Halifax Citadel.

Compass is an award-winning grain-to-glass distillery, which means everything is made from scratch, on site and from agricultural products sourced from Nova Scotia. With this recent launch, Compass Distillers' spirits are even more exclusive and help to tell the story of our region through food and drink.

The different levels of experiences range from a stand-out tasting of the three drinks, to the upper tiers that are crafted for you history and spirit buffs alike. Take a tour of the Citadel with one of the highlanders and sneak a peek behind the scenes at the barreling room. Along with the specialty spirits—Noon Gun Gin, Fort George Genever and Daily Ration Run—the highest tier lets you pull a sample from the barrel-aged whiskey before everyone else.

What better way to heighten your knowledge of the area than drinking up a glass of history?
Book tours 48 hours in advance at halifaxcitadel.ca

Bet on Flavourful Food
You can taste the tradition behind family-owned and operated May Garden. The restaurant specializes in Canadian Chinese food but also crafts authentic Chinese for Cantonese-style dish lovers. With 40 years of experience, May has learned a thing or two about which HRM food cravings need to be satisfied.

May Garden has added four other locations to the original in Lower Sackville, including its newest, conveniently located inside Casino Nova Scotia. After you've tested your luck and are ready to spend your earnings (or indulge your losses), May Garden will be waiting.

The Casino location combines a modern and bright vibe with a bar and a patio overlooking the harbour. Along with its eclectic regular menu and weekend dim sum special, you can bring your freshly caught lobster and cook it traditional Cantonese style. (If you don't want to leave the house, the menu is available on UberEats.)

With these portions and flavourful dishes, you always win big at May Garden.
May Garden, 1983 Upper Water Street

Enveloped in Naan
Take in the authentic Indian food that has been passed from generation to generation at Shivani's Kitchen.

Shivani's recipes are inspired by her mother's and grandmother's dishes and transformed to be made completely her own.

Traditionally when you want to enjoy Indian food, you need to do so in a time-consuming fashion. At Shivani's, you only have to wait five minutes before you're indulging in a portable sample platter of butter chicken or curry dishes, without compromising the taste you know and love.

Shivani's traditional oven bakes the freshest naan bread in the HRM, which is used to wrap her unique stuffed naan rolls—they can be filled with anything from bacon and egg to marinated Tandoor chicken.

Shivani reinvents the meaning of "to-go food," so the next time you're walking around downtown and have a sudden craving for Indian food, you can take it all with you on your summer stroll by the sea.
Shivani's Kitchen, 1209 Marginal Road

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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Vintage clothing for plus bodies, by plus bodies

Online thrift shops Fat Chance Vintage and Kitsch District look outside of straight sizes and binaries to provide inclusive, accessible second-hand clothing.

Posted By on Wed, Jul 3, 2019 at 4:39 PM

  • @fat.chance.vintage

For Olivia Weir—the curatorial eye behind Instagram account Fat Chance Vintage—a love of thrift that saw her skipping high school to hit up Value Village became more than a hobby with the speed of a Nike swoosh. She held a 1980s bomber from the brand in a thrift shop, and, as she recalls, "It was not my style but I had to buy it. Someone had hand-stitched a cross onto the lapel, and that moment told me the story of who owned it."

Since May, when Weir posted that jacket on her Instagram and a bidding war erupted in the comments, she's has been part of a mini-wave of local Instagram accounts helping fat folks thread up with affordable, fashionable options in a range of sizes—all posted on the app and sold through DMs.

"When I started, I wrote myself a letter: I always wanted to be inclusive and accessible—like buying clothes from friends and peers, not some unattainable cool," Weir explains. "Being a plus retailer means being an inclusive retailer and being inclusive means good price points."

Most of her inventory will run you under $20.

"When I go to a thrift store, I don't want something that looks like I went to Pennington's—I don't want that built-in-cardigan top," Weir says. "I shop a lot in the men's section because sizes are bigger, things are more unique and there's more natural fibres."

At this point, Weir can hit up to five thrift stores a day with a shopping routine so down-pat it borders on an art. (A tip? "Don't waste your time on the plus bins at Frenchy's: It's all just variations on the same thing.")

While Fat Chance has quickly made a name for itself with a steady selection of jeans, shorts and retro tees that start at size 12, fellow account Kitsch District has also been amassing likes and sales for things like zip-up pleather minis and vintage-y, cowboy-looking button downs at negotiable prices (OBO—"or best offer"—is the closing line of each item description).

As founder Fox Parker puts it, "My mission statement is to be for every body, everyone and every wallet." With pithy item descriptions resting outside the gender binary, it's common for a Kitsch District item to put the supposed gender in suggestive quotes—a simple effort that speaks to the inclusion Parker is creating.

"It started out as a hobby for me, but I think over years of following queer businesses and seeing the needs of queer people, the needs of people not shopping in straight sizes, seeing more curated thrift would bother me," Parker explains. "Seeing sizes extra-small to medium for $30—that's what I see constantly—that's not accessible to a lot of people, especially people I'm around. We're not rich in any sense of the word. We need to prioritize people who don't have access to this stuff."

Parker adds that they're happy to see customers message to talk about accessibility, to ask to try things on and to barter: "Ultimately what I want to do, not just as a business but as a person, is make people comfortable."

On separate phone interviews, each reseller gushes about the other, talking about the "hole in the market"—both in the world of curated thrift and Halifax fashion at large—that's finally being filled, as Weir puts it, "for plus bodies by plus bodies." You can follow along with the revolution, one post at a time, at @fat.chance.vintage and @kitsch.district.

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Thursday, June 27, 2019


Posted on Thu, Jun 27, 2019 at 1:00 AM

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Spontaneous Sipping
Let your day take you off-course and right to Off Track Brewing, Bedford's only brewery. It's where you can release all of your troubles and come as you are. Their relaxed environment welcomes people in from all walks of life.

These new brewers have already grown to house 15 taps, and within the next few weeks they'll be able to double their production with their new tanks. You may have already tasted Crash Course IPA, Damn Skippy PB Stout or Coconut Kolsch—and if you have, you know that these guys love to experiment with flavours. We can expect several new unique beers by the end of June, including a wheat beer made with haskap berries and cherries for a refreshing patio beer.

Bring over some food from around the neighbourhood and take a load off with a crowd-pleasing pint or an eccentric brew. We can't wait to see what tricks they have up their fermenters.
Off Track Brewing, 275 Rocky Lake Drive

Coming in Clutch
From Amazon to Uber, there's nothing you can't access online at the touch of a button. So why shouldn't you be able to find a used car this way?

Clutch.ca takes away all of the hassle of having to visit a dealership; with a quick scroll and click, you can be test driving your dream car by lunch. The local Clutch Concierges will drive it right to your home or office so that you can test it up to 200 kilometres around the HRM—no pushy sales tactics or commitment included. The power is truly in the consumer's hand.

Without the added dealership costs, Clutch's savings are their customers' savings. That goes for buying a Clutch Certified vehicle, or if you're looking to sell your car. Clutch will appraise it and take it off your hands for a price that you can feel good about.

The car hunt has never been so stress free, and with their seven-day money-back guarantee, you'll be sure that this is the car for you.
Clutch.ca, 20 Duke Street

Pleasing People with Every Bite
When you walk inside 3A Restaurant you'll find a stylish interior, cozy atmosphere and an ever-changing menu that is sure to keep you on your toes.

The story behind the 3A name celebrates the three owners who moved from Cape Breton to Halifax to make a dream come true. Charlie, head chef and co-owner, has devoted eight years to cooking. You can taste his passion in every meal they serve.

Their homemade menu items are constantly changing, rotating from classic fish and chips or steak all the way to Asian fusion dishes made with pork broth, Thai tastes with their Thai chicken burger and new Indian-style dishes like the maple curry chicken penne.

As a fully licensed bar with beer, wine and creative cocktails, 3A offers an exclusive "fine dining" experience while catering to every budget. These innovative dishes are ones you've never seen crafted before.
3A Restaurant, 264 Bedford Highway

Wallet-Happy Wearhouse
Celebrating a quarter-century of great deals this year, Bedford Appliance Warehouse still knows how to make our dollar go that extra mile. With high-end appliances at low-end prices, you can comfortably blueprint all of those summer home updates you've had planned, without worrying about compromising the quality for price.

Whether you're looking to modernize your home kitchen or upgrade the cottage appliances, they can pair your budget to the style that you're looking for. These attractive packages are perfect for when you're in the market for more than once piece. Go the contemporary route with their sleek stainless-steel collections or stick with the traditional, they've got plenty of options no matter the home aesthetic.

You can finally enjoy your summer vacation without those appliance headaches. With reliable brands like Whirlpool, Kitchen-Aid, Frigidaire and Electrolux, your dream kitchen, fully-stocked Airbnb or summer home-away-from-home is waiting for you at Bedford Appliance Warehouse.
Bedford Appliance Warehouse, 1743 Bedford Highway

Photo-Quality Aesthetic, Real-World Taste
A "real world" of tastes is what you experience when you take that first bite of this Instagrammable bagel. With Izzy's Bagels there's no fine print, all of the natural ingredients are laid out for us to see (and to taste).

Flour, water, year, sugar and a sprinkle of salt—that's it!

A little goes a long way, and when the recipe is simple, the flavours have a chance to come out and play.

Izzy's experiments with natural flavours to bring the most eccentric and fantasized-about bagels to life. You can always count on their rainbow Pride Week special, or red-and-white-coloured dough to show our nation some love on Canada Day.

Their equally unique whipped cream cheeses will have you floating away, dreaming about your bagel long after breakfast is done. And Izzy's doesn't hold out on the good stuff—they slather it on. Trust us, the messier the face, the better it tastes!
Izzy's Bagels, 1180 Bedford Highway

Spicing Up Your Everyday Meals
Who says you shouldn't grocery shop on an empty stomach? Pete's Frootique & Fine Foods will rev up your appetite and then instantly satisfy those cravings with their ready-made dining options. Let your taste buds take control—they may just guide you through the aisles and tempt you with something new to throw into the "tonight's dinner" mix.

Pete's Frootique delivers all of the decadent flavours that come with eating out, mixed in with the wholesome comfort of a homecooked meal. This Bedford landmark is filled with new fresh and local delights to try, and with a 10 percent off deal for seniors on Wednesdays and students on Saturdays, you can afford to throw a little something extra into your basket.

Take advantage of your lunch break to shop around with some friends, and then power up with a healthy Best of Halifax-winning salad or smoothie. You'll get back to work feeling renewed and ready to take on anything that comes your way.
Pete's Frootique & Fine Foods, 1595 Bedford Highway

Bringing the "Experience" Back to Shopping
Sunnyside Mall changes your idea of what a mall should be and treats its customers to a comfortable shopping experience.

Say goodbye to fast food, because the mall's "foodie food court" serves made-in-house goodies from around the world that staff prepare on the spot.

You can find all of the mainstream stores that you know and love, while also supporting the local scene with a mix of independent boutiques to suit everyone's shopping preferences.

It's not often that you'll see an outdoor patio available at a mall, and Sunnyside houses four unique options. Grab your Second Cup coffee beside fresh flowers, step onto a top-notch Italian terrace at Il Mercato, enjoy more patio space at Finbar's Irish Pub or sip on that handcrafted summer cocktail at The Middle Spoon.

Along with their events in partnership with Make-A-Wish and Autism NS, you'll know that Sunnyside is passionate about bringing customers the complete community feel when they walk through the doors.
Sunnyside Mall, 1595 Bedford Highway

Bedford's Days
As Bedford's population rises, amenities and new local services aren't far behind. Watching as plans turn into actionable growth has been a treat for councillor Tim Outhit. He says there have been some extraordinary additions to the restaurant and pub scene, many of which will be showcased Saturday night at Sunnyside Mall, at the Rouge et Blanc sampling party during Bedford Days.

With the increase in local eateries and shops, traffic through Bedford is busier than ever. Though Outhit discloses that the plan for the commuter rail to relieve some of the congestion isn't coming, the district will be reinvestigating improvements to the Bedford Highway. Along with this project, they'll be looking into Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and a possible ferry service that takes people from Bedford into downtown Halifax.

Maintaining accessibility to and from Bedford is very important to Outhit, especially with finalizing preliminary work on the library. The next step is to find the perfect location, and to continue watching Bedford flourish as a district and community.
Councillor Tim Outhit, HRM District 16 Bedford-Wentworth, 902-229-6385

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Friday, May 31, 2019

Lil' Lou's celebrates 5 years of kids' vintage

Clothes for the tiny fashionable folks in your life are on sale!

Posted By on Fri, May 31, 2019 at 11:26 PM

click to enlarge SUBMITTED
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Natalie Slater's adorable venture in vintage clothing for little ones is all grown up. Lil' Lou's Second Hand Clothing for Children was born out of a Queen Street/Vintage Row space five years ago, offering fashionable finds for kids under 5. Soon after that, Lou's moved and started doing its thing from inside second-hand wonder Lost & Found (2383 Agricola Street), which where it's celebrating this mega milestone on Saturday, June 1—and hoping you can join.

From 11am to 5pm all Lil' Lou's finds—have a peek at the pre-loved, always styling duds here—will be just $5, there'll be activities for the little ones and some snacks, too. The best thing about this birthday party? You're the one who walks away with a present.
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Thursday, May 23, 2019

First look: Thief & Bandit’s downtown showroom/studio

Designer and artist Amie Cunningham celebrates nearly 10 years in the fashion world by showcasing her process and her products.

Posted By on Thu, May 23, 2019 at 1:00 AM


Thief & Bandit grand opening
1673 Barrington Street
Saturday May 25, 11am-5pm

A mie Cunningham uses the word organic a lot when she's talking about Thief & Bandit. From the fabric she prints on, to her creative process, to the slow-and-steady evolution of her fashion line, a nod to the natural sums up her nearly 10 years in business pretty perfectly.

Thief & Bandit was born when Cunningham was living in the States—where she studied painting and sculpture, met her husband and started a family—and experimenting with her creativity by designing t-shirts she sold out of her backpack in Brooklyn. Soon she added jewellery and accessories to the mix, and eventually baby clothes. "This was nine years ago, before cute baby leggings were everywhere," she says with a laugh. "People really wanted them, and that's when I got to setting up my Etsy shop."

She moved her growing family and the line to Halifax in 2012, to be closer to her parents and, she says quite frankly, for health care. Since then, when most of Thief & Bandit's business was coming from America, she's gradually grown it to be a wide-reaching brand (see the Eye See You bra that Cunningham was commissioned to make by Project Runway winner Gretchen Jones for 2017's Women's March on Washington) and bold collection of hand-drawn, hand-printed garments that range from dresses to bathing suits.

This week Cunningham celebrates another organic growth, and officially debuts a new studio and showroom on Barrington Street. It's a bright space that helps her both keep her team together and offer local shoppers a chance to try pieces on, where she'll keep some weekend hours for drop-ins, but work on a by-appointment basis to start.

"I think what's really cool is that people will get to see our process, because we are a handmade company. And you can say 'handmade' till the cows come home, but when people really see us making the pieces...it's kind of magical and I just want to show local customers exactly how we do it," she says. "I love collaborating with people so I feel like it's more of a collaborative art project than a fashion line."


Thief & Bandit currently employs four sewers and a full-time screenprinter, all of whom are recent NSCAD grads. Cunningham says their work, and the team effort, is key to the direction the line has taken in recent years. While shoppers have always gravitated to the power of the print—whimsical botanical, nature-inspired drawings from the line's founder—she wants to push the garments themselves to another level.

"The shapes of what we make are becoming more sophisticated, and that's because of the people who sew for me. It really is a collaborative effort," says Cunningham. "When I say, 'I want a pleated pant for spring/summer,' they're the ones that pattern it out. In the beginning it was super-easy shapes that were not a problem to easily pattern and now things are getting a little more difficult."

She says the bonus of having a space that's both a workshop and a place to shop is seeing the people who buy the clothes. Because Thief & Bandit's clothing has mostly been produced on a made-to-order basis—save for craft shows and pop-ups—it means flexibility and potential for style, pattern and size customization. Cunningham says it's important for her to "design for everyone" regardless of age or gender, and she's working toward being more size-inclusive.

"I see women over 70 coming in and buying a kimono jacket and matching pants, and then I have a 20-year-old just out of art school in the exact same outfit," she says. "I feel like when I'm designing, I'm thinking about a powerful person. A very confident person, not afraid to wear something bold, not afraid to mix prints—somebody who knows what they want."

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On a visit to Halifax’s charming, personal gem of a neighbourhood, enjoy a unique mix of shops, services and eateries that specialize in the charming, personal touch.

Posted on Thu, May 23, 2019 at 1:00 AM


From the Earth, made for you
When you first walk into Earth Goddess Jewelry, you'll notice the amazing aroma. Next, you'll be instantly calmed by stones and crystals. But none of it would be possible without their staff, who tie the ambiance together to give you the complete shopping experience.

Earth Goddess' new location is bigger and brighter, and allows for even more ethically sourced, naturally based products to be displayed. The locals will tell you that this is the best shop to find a quality gift for an amazing price point (and all made by Canadian artisans!).

Their signature necklaces are either sterling or gold-filled with dropped stone pendants that each come with a property meaning tucked inside the box, so you can carry those strengths with you everywhere you go.

With bridal season coming up, you'll want to stop in and see their award-winning selection of bridal jewellery, or take the time to create a custom piece that's made especially for you on your special day.

Earth Goddess Jewelry, 5866 Demone Street

You're that much closer to becoming a Hitter
You're invited to try a fun, fast-paced and challenging full body cardio workout that is guaranteed to make you feel amazing. 30 Minute Hit is a high intensity boxing and kickboxing circuit training studio. It's a 30-minute workout designed just for women, has no set class times and a trainer is always included.

Stop in for a free trial, which is a full 30-minute workout (and not just a 10-minute sampler). You'll get a chance to experience the awesome 30 Minute Hit workout with no obligation. A qualified trainer will be ready to work with you every step of the way and answer all of your questions! Once you become a Hitter, they will personally instruct and motivate you through the entire circuit every time that you come into train. No matter what your fitness or skill level, you'll sweat, punch, learn and burn your way to results you never thought possible!
Go to 30minutehit.com and sign up for your free trial today!

30 Minute Hit, 5651 Hennessey Street

Loko for Takos
Tangy pineapple, chipotle mayo and beer-battered fish with guacamole are just a few of the flavours that'll have you hooked on the new Tako Loko. Having only been open for two months, this family-owned restaurant is already known for pleasing their customers with authentic Mexican cuisine, especially with their (very) spicy salsa.

Their simple space is beautifully decorated with vibrant yellow and green walls that instantly settle you into an eating mood. The menu is simple too, with seven types of tacos and some classic side options. For something new, Tako Loko launches a weekly special each Sunday. Their current focus is to introduce tofu into their veggie taco to imitate the pulled chicken style in the "Tinga"—they'll even make the salsa separate from the meat!

Fingers crossed they'll have their liquor license by summertime, which means enjoying an El Pastor ttaco with a refreshing glass of Corona to pair. Bring your appetite, you'll want to stay for seconds.

Tako Loko, 3248 Isleville Street

Evolving eye care, bold eyewear
The team at Lang Optometry and Eyewear stops at nothing to bring us the best—that goes for frames and the most advanced technology to make sure that we're staying on top of our eyecare.

In their optometry department, they've introduced the Zeiss OCT instrument that lets Gaétan Lang and Christopher Poh see beneath the surface of the retina. Almost like an MRI of the eye, this machine helps to diagnose macular degeneration, glaucoma and other eye disease often before progression has done any obvious damage. Earlier diagnosis means you get referred to the appropriate specialist even earlier than before.

Lang Optometry revolutionizes vision care with their premium European frames. Their Belgian frame THEO is bolder than ever with their new collection, "Colours are smiles," adding even more brightness to make clients' eyes pop. To perfectly compliment the THEO brand, Lang has introduced a new line originating from France, Anne & Valentin Eyewear that focus on a renewal of form and colour.

Major frame designers always find their creative home at Lang Optometry.

Lang Optometry and Eyewear, 5550 Kaye Street

Creative floral and curated plants
If you're looking to send a fabulous, strange, sentimental or tiny custom floral bouquet, no one can craft one like Props Floral Design.

Ashley is a floral goddess with 17 years of experience and says nothing is too big or too small. She can do anything from a comedic custom arrangement—it included feminine hygiene products—to large wedding installations complete with constructed floral trees amongst suspended baby's breath clouds.

Jayme can guide you to pick the perfect house plant, as she loves to nurture relationships through gifts from the natural world. She's currently on the hunt for more edible houseplants to add to their curated selection.

Keep an eye out for upcoming floral and plant workshops, but in the meantime, come in and browse the floral shop and let their shop-dog Kuma sit on your feet and give you snuggles. Dogs, flowers and plants—what more could you need?

Props Floral Design, 5533 Young Street (The Hydrostone Market)

A melange of flavours and dishes
Sit up at the sushi bar and watch the work happen right in front of your eyes. Hamachi Kita Sushi and Asian Flare is some of the best sushi in the city and has been for nearly a decade. They don't stop at sushi—Hamachi offers a concept that combines our favourite dishes with other Asian influence.

Hamachi brings items such as their Thai BBQ chicken, pad Thai and Thai curries to the mix, and have healthy and creative dishes on their feature menu, which includes vegetarian options.

The wide selection means you'll never argue with your friends about where to eat—Hamachi even has a full selection of teriyaki, riceand noodle entrees and appetizers.

With a combination of dishes to choose from, plus the quaint setting of the Hydrostone market, Hamachi Kita is always a contender for date nights, celebrations and dinners out.

Eat in, take out or get it delivered—there are multiple ways to experience Hamachi.

Hamachi Kita Sushi and Asian Flare, 5535-37 Young Street (The Hydrostone Market)

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

KingsPier Curated Collections is heading to Halifax

New digs for the Dartmouth vintage seller

Posted By on Wed, May 15, 2019 at 2:40 PM

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After four years of business in downtown Dartmouth, Laura MacNutt says the price is wrong. The KingsPier Curated Collections owner—who first ran her vintage clothing shop in a cute spot behind King’s Wharf, on the Shubie Canal and most recently at 122 Portland Street—is moving to 1568 Argyle Street because after a recent rent increase, she’s says she’s been priced out on her side of the bridge.

“The gentrification of some of these places is at the expense of local culture,” says MacNutt. “It completely shocked me a space on Argyle was 40 percent less than a place on Portland Street.”

The move comes on the heels of last weekend’s Halifax Vintage Show, at which KingsPier had its most successful weekend sales to date. MacNutt says despite the fact she didn’t initiate this upcoming change, she’s thrilled by the potential for growth in Halifax: “I’m so tired of moving. I’ve signed a three-year lease and I’m very confident in this being a successful elevation of mainstreaming what I’m doing.”

A longtime collector and “self-proclaimed snob,” MacNutt says she has a storage locker of vintage pieces she’s accumulated over the past two-plus decades just waiting to be unpacked. Her shop’s tagline—“experienced haute
couture for discerning men and women”—will stay true at the new location, which will continue to offer a boutique experience for thrift shoppers.

“Early on I realized there was no one really satisfying the men’s market or the unisex market. And there are a lot of women who gravitate to men’s footwear and clothing,” says MacNutt of her selection. “It’s more about quality and era, I choose things that just don’t go out of style—classic, timeless pieces.”

She’s already started the moving process in preparation for a June 1 opening date, but the Portland Street location will remain open and full of wearable treasures until the end of May. 
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Thursday, May 9, 2019

A Halifax Vintage Show presents the past

The Curio Collective brings together 30 vendors for the throwback weekend

Posted By on Thu, May 9, 2019 at 3:52 AM

  • Rachel McGrath
A Halifax Vintage Show
1566 Barrington Street
May 11 (10am-7pm)
May 12 (10am-4pm)

The Curio Collective talked about organizing a vintage fest for years. On a mission to combine the authentic with the eclectic, Brigid Milway (What These Old Things?) and Melanie Huntley (Lady Luck Vintage) wanted to bring the community together for one big show, the likes of Montreal, Toronto or even New York. They decided to just go for it.

With 30 vendors ranging in ages and interest, A Halifax Vintage Show hopes to attract the same to the former Attica Furnishings space on Barrington Street this weekend. Antiques, video games and records, estate jewellery, mid-century furniture and clothes—lots of clothes, from the ’40s to the ’90s—will provide “something for everyone who is interested in vintage,” Milway says. “Everyone connects to pieces for different reasons and so it is really cool to see so many different people come together.”

There have always been antique stores and a clientele to go with them, but seemingly there is a recent and renewed interest in pieces from the past. Vintage is trendy thanks to one of the most millennial of apps—Instagram.

“It is a real contradiction, but it works so well together,” says Milway of the odd-couple pairing of her skills—using new technology to sell things from the past. She used a digital presence instead of a storefront to get her business off the ground. Instagram is also how she found and reached out to many of the vendors who will be at the Halifax Vintage Show.

“With Instagram and social media it’s really easy to see who is out there and it’s been really helpful to connect all of us,” says Milway.  “Everyone has always been there, but we are ready to come together now. I feel like Halifax is ready for a show like this.”
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The Loot brings streetwear to Charles Street

Attention shoppers, it's a new second-hand shop

Posted By on Thu, May 9, 2019 at 3:43 AM

“I curate vintage and thrift, inspired by ’90s, ’80s and early 2000s streetwear,” says Anna Campbell, the sole proprietor of The Loot, a new vintage shop in the former home of RIO (5781 Charles Street, behind EnVie).

Donning a vintage pair of black Air Max 95s, Campbell says that the store is a result of family and community support. “I’m really grateful that I’ve been able to have this opportunity, I definitely couldn’t have done it on my own. I have a big family, every one of my siblings has been in here helping me every day.”

Cleaned and pressed vintage clothing drapes the walls of the airy sunlit space, which opened officially at the end of April. With her favourite local shop Big Pony (which closed in 2017) on her mind, Campbell saw that there was a market in the city for a trendy and affordable alternative to fast fashion.

“Ever since they closed, I had it in my head. I drew a lot of inspiration from them—I have a lot of local inspiration,” she says while patting Lenny the shop dog, a customer favourite. “It is a beautiful space and I’m really lucky to be surrounded by well-known businesses and other young entrepreneurs in the building.”

Campbell has family and friends who source products for her throughout the Maritimes, leaving her to operate, manage and focus on the store itself. She aims to sell clothing that is made to last, saving it from ending up in a landfill and is committed to using the space to showcase local artists designers and up-cyclers.

“I try to make it a nice experience for people,” says Campbell. The Loot is open Tuesday through Sunday.
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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Pilates Barre is now open

Erika Ferguson’s studio offers a welcoming space to move your at your own pace.

Posted By on Wed, May 1, 2019 at 2:33 PM

“I feel like it’s just my time,” says Ferguson of her new studio. - IAN SELIG
  • “I feel like it’s just my time,” says Ferguson of her new studio.

P lié into spring at The Pilates Barre (5649 Hennessey Street, the former home of 11 Street Boutique, which moved right next door). The bright and sunshine-filled soft-pink studio just opened on May 1.

Owner Erika Ferguson starting taking pilates classes 20 years ago. She says pilates gave her strength in her body and she became pain-free. "I was so blown away with what it did for me–mentally as well."

She's been teaching for just over 15 years– 10 of those years spent in various studios around Halifax–finding what she loves about pilates and barre, and what she wants to bring to the community as an instructor and studio owner. "I feel like it's just my time," she says. "I wanted to bring something for people in my age group as well."

The studio will offer a low impact and intensity interval training style of pilates and barre.

"It's not just that 'Let's go and sweat and jump around,'" says Ferguson. "We need to take care of our bodies more. Let's start to focus on what we can do to age gracefully and bring ourselves into the next 30 years of our lives, injury-free, strong and empowered."

A jokingly self-described "drill sergeant," she takes alignment seriously. "It's one of the most important things in a class." You won't see her working out at the front of the class with you—she's walking around the room, correcting your posture and giving verbal instructions in-time with the music.

She says in an industry that seems to push push push for people to move their bodies faster and sweat harder aren't always the right work out.

Pilates is intense, it's all about working those deep-down ab muscles and working on core strength, whereas barre is more of a dance-style workout. It's mostly standing up, so can be more accessible to folks who maybe can't get on the ground to work out or still working on building the core strength for a pilates class.

"What about the person that hates working out? Can we find a workout that people like? And people seem to enjoy barre and pilates," says Ferguson. "I've gotten the most amazing feedback all the time about what barre makes people feel like and how fun and accessible it is. And that's what I want to keep going. I don't want people to come and dread coming to barre class."

When you're in her barre class, you'll feel like a dancer.  "People that come to my classes," she says, "they know I'm there for them."

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Vol 27, No 12
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