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Friday, November 13, 2020

Fisherman’s Cove keeps its huts open for the holidays

The village will fill with twinkling lights, holiday magic and lots of local vendors.

Posted By on Fri, Nov 13, 2020 at 4:57 PM

Quaint, quiet, cozy. - MORGAN MACDONALD
  • Quaint, quiet, cozy.
  • MORGAN MACDONALD
This year, Fisherman’s Cove is doing something it has never done before—staying open after summer ends. The collection of local shops in Eastern Passage usually runs from May to October but because of COVID-19, business owners lost the first two months of their season.

To make up for it, businesses are staying open for the holiday shopping season, lighting up the huts and “making it magical,” says owner of Kismet Design Katie Richard, who’s organizing Christmas at the Cove alongside Jenna McNeil.

All products are handmade, from ornaments to face masks to artisan soaps, dog collars and more. There will be 11 vendors participating on each of the six weekends, as well as three nearby restaurants. “We’re supporting over 100 local craftspeople,” Richard says.

In the summer, Fisherman’s Cove is usually booming with business but this year, because of the borders being closed, businesses lost the majority of their sales which came from tourists. But Richard says store owners were given a discount on the rent they’d normally pay, and Eastern Passage locals were also helpful in keeping them afloat. Richard says they’re doing this to thank the locals “because, without them, we really would have been in trouble.”

Richard says Christmas at the Cove is similar to going to a craft show—but a safer alternative because of the pandemic. “We’re sort of acting like sort of a makeshift crafts market but somewhere where you can keep on going indoors, so you don’t have to be outside in the cold.”

Some holiday markets are still going on during the pandemic, but Richard says because they’ve been in business for the past couple of months, the Fisherman’s Cove shops have a better handle on safety precautions.

The regular social distancing rules apply. There’s also a limit to the number of people who can be in the stores, and a 250-people limit in Fisherman’s Cove. “Because it’s so spread out, there’s never really a lot of congestion,” adds Richard.

Christmas at the Cove runs from November 13th to December 20th from Friday to Saturday from 11 am-7 pm and Sunday from 12 pm to 5 pm. “We are open for the holidays,” says Richard. “And we want to make sure that people know that we are here, and we’re staying open for them.”
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It’s beginning to look a lot like holiday market season

A mix of in-person and online events to help you find the perfect gifts this season.

Posted By on Fri, Nov 13, 2020 at 4:53 PM

listings-tsr.png

Christmas at the Forum

What may be the largest seasonal shopping event in the city will still go on this year, spanning seven different weekends with 100 vendors for you to browse. The caveat this year? You have to get your tickets early, as the Forum’s multipurpose room can only hold 200 people while maintaining social distance.
Halifax Forum, 2901 Windsor Street, Nov 6 to Dec 20, 10am to 9pm Fri & Sat, 10am to 5pm Sunday, $5, christmasattheforum.com

Annual Sackville Christmas Show
The pandemic pushed this craft show onto Facebook. Beginning at 6pm Friday, vendors will start advertising their wares in the Facebook group, allowing anyone interested to shop without even leaving their house.
Online, Nov 13 at 6pm to Nov 15 at 10pm, free, facebook.com/groups/858197398251216


Christmas at the Cove
The usual shopping season was interrupted this year at Fisherman’s Cove, so the shops in Eastern Passage have taken to spreading some holiday cheer. You can walk between the 11 participating businesses and grab a bite nearby and the huts promise to be lit up—perfect for a photo op if you chance to show up during a snowfall.
Government Wharf Road, Eastern Passage, Nov 14 to Dec 20, Friday & Saturday 11am to 7pm, Sunday 12 to 5pm, free, fishermanscove.ca

Put Pikachu on your tree this year. - VIA CRAFTY FOX MAKERSPACE ON FACEBOOK
  • Put Pikachu on your tree this year.
  • via Crafty Fox Makerspace on Facebook
Geeky Craft Market
Hosted at Crafty Fox Markerspace, this Fairview business gives independent crafters and artists a space to flourish. Selling everything from hand-painted miniatures to embroidery kits to dice sets, it's got something for everyone on your list and promise at least eight vendors each weekend.
56 Supreme Court, Halifax, Every Saturday starting November 14 to December 19, 11am to 6pm, free, facebook.com/craftyfoxmakerspace

ALS Society Christmas Tea and Sale
This fundraiser and holiday market on Windmill Road promises music, homemade turkey soup and treats, and gifts ranging from jewellery to preserves to art, all made by local artisans and crafters.
1000 Windmill Road, Suite 1, Dartmouth, Nov 14, 11am to 2pm, free, facebook.com/events/3745187725552540

Tantallon Holiday Craft Market
Hosted by popular wedding venue Shining Waters, this market has 24 vendors listed, most that you won’t find at the other markets. Get in with a donation to the local food bank, and spend your afternoon browsing the tables.
148 Nautical Way, Tantallon, Nov 15, 10am to 3pm, by donation,
facebook.com/events/700972640836404

Blackbird Studio Christmas Fair

This small pop-up market in Dartmouth is ticket-only, and all attendees book a time slot in advance. With five local vendors (Blackbird Studio, Heirloom Halifax, DesBray Natural Bath Products, Cactied Designs, Pixie Pottery) it’s the perfect spot to grab something you won’t find anywhere else.
Blackburd Studio, Dartmouth, Nov 15 & Dec 19, 10am to 6pm, free blackbirdpopup.square.site

Lawrencetown Christmas Craft Show
Over a dozen vendors will be set up at this two-day event at the Lawrencetown Community Centre. Free admission means it’s not a problem to go both days, as some vendors are only there for one or the other.
Lawrencetown Community Centre, 3657 Lawrencetown Road, Nov 21 9am to 4pm, Nov 22 10am to 3pm, free, facebook.com/events/388773948987101

Christmas in Spryfield Craft Fair
The Spryfield Lion’s Hall rink will be turned into a craft market on this late November Saturday with 30+ artisans. With social distancing protocols in place and a limit of 200 people inside the venue at once, the organizer hopes to “make this craft show a huge success for our local small businesses.”
Spryfield Lion's Hall, 111 Drysdale Road, Nov 21, 2pm to 6pm, free
facebook.com/events/792388111590774

St. Luke’s Church Christmas Craft Fair
This Tantallon church will play host to local crafters showing off their holiday products, and they're selling tabletop trees and Christmas greenery to get you in the seasonal spirit. They’ll have an onsite canteen to grab lunch, but make sure to social distance and sanitize frequently.
St Luke's Church, 5374 St Margarets Bay Road, Nov 21, 9am to 3pm, free,
facebook.com/events/373513517266028


Cole Harbour Farm Museum Market
A plein air craft fair that’s sure to satisfy your inner horse girl, you can shop local artisans and check off your list, then warm up around the onsite fire with hot cider and ‘aww’ at some barnyard animals. Admission and parking are free.
471 Poplar Drive, Cole Harbour, Nov 21, 11am to 3pm, free,
coleharbourfarmmuseum.ca


Glow’s Vendor Market
The light show is Insta-worthy, but the market is what you really want to go for. Browse the 20+ vendors and cross off everything on your list. It's also still accepting vendor applications if you’re a maker.
Halifax Exhibition Centre, 200 Prospect Road, Nov 26 to Jan 2, $23+,
facebook.com/GlowHalifax

Shop local this season at the Barn in Hubbards. - VIA HUBBARDS BARN ASSOCIATION ON FACEBOOK
  • Shop local this season at the Barn in Hubbards.
  • via Hubbards Barn Association on Facebook
Christmas at the Barn in Hubbards
Spend an afternoon out of the city by heading to this market in Hubbards. With a limit of 60 customers at once, be prepared to wait your turn, but there will be coffee on site and a variety of vendors that are sure to make it worth the drive and the wait.
57 Highway 3, Hubbards, Nov 28 & Dec 5, 9am to 1pm, free,
facebook.com/events/402885347751829

Evergreen Festival
Wooden huts lining the Halifax waterfront will soon be alight with local businesses, food vendors and even jazz music. Created by Discover Halifax and Develop Nova Scotia, all social distancing measures and Covid guidelines will be in place, allowing you to browse 35 vendors in peace.
Halifax Waterfront, 1549 Lower Water Street, Wednesdays through Sundays Nov 28 to Dec 20, free, evergreenfestns.com

Eastern Passage Buffalo Club Craft Fair
The most Nova Scotian craft fair you’ve ever dreamed of, the Buffalo Club in Eastern Passage will host this event. Entry is $2 or a donation to the local food bank, and the event will include a canteen, 50/50 tickets for sale, and kitschy crafts and gifts.
625 Cow Bay Road, Eastern Passage, Nov 28, 11am to 3pm, $2 or a non-perishable food item, facebook.com/events/306374733801996

Christkindlmarket
Head to Alderney Landing for this traditional German market on the first weekend in December. It promises food, drinks, gifts and even carousel rides for the kids. Show up before 1 pm on the Saturday to catch the farmer’s market in the same location. If you’d rather stay in, the Alderney market also has an online shop offering products from dozens of their regular vendors.
Alderney Landing, 2 Ochterloney Street, Dartmouth, 4pm Dec 4 to 4pm Dec 6,
alderneylanding.com


Cancelled this year: Christmas Craft Village, Craft Nova Scotia Winter Craft Show, Christmas in Cole Harbour, Dalplex Christmas Craft Market.

If you have a holiday market to add to the list, email lifestyle@thecoast.ca.
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Thursday, November 12, 2020

Crafters in a dangerous time

Covid couldn’t unravel Halifax’s fibre arts community.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 12, 2020 at 3:00 AM

Mimi Fautley, owner of The Loop, Halifax's go-to knitting shop on Barrington Street, says getting into crafting helped a lot of people feel productive during the pandemic. - CHRIS GEWORSKI
  • Mimi Fautley, owner of The Loop, Halifax's go-to knitting shop on Barrington Street, says getting into crafting helped a lot of people feel productive during the pandemic.
  • Chris Geworski

What was the nicest thing you saw during the pandemic?
"Local craft stores switching to online delivery, making it easier for everyone to keep their hands busy and their minds occupied."

When word got out that masks could help slow the spread of COVID-19, Halifax's crafters rose to the task. And local craft shops were there for them every step of the way.

"I didn't think there was any possibility that we could do so well. But then, people were relentless in their pursuit of crafting," says Chris Pasquet, owner of fabric-and-sewing store Patch Halifax on Robie Street.

Although Patch closed its doors in mid-March and Pasquet laid off her only employee, soon she had to bring her back.

"I remember laying Elliot off, and then days later, I had to call Elliot and be like, 'I need you back.' Because immediately we started getting online orders like crazy," she says. "More than we'd ever had."

Patch transitioned into warehouse mode with curbside pickup, and messages began pouring in via social media, email and phone.

People "wanted to sew and they wanted to be making things, and I think they wanted to feel connected to something," Pasquet says. "Not necessarily to Patch, but just doing something with their hands and using their spare time in a way that made them feel good. And it just happened that we had the thing that they wanted."

Mimi Fautley, owner of The Loop on Barrington Street, says although the store lost its tourist traffic—which accounts for up to 40 percent of sales during the warmer months—the knitting shop adapted quickly, fulfilling the city's need to create with its hands by opening a web store in mid-March. "That went like gangbusters at first," says Fautley, "it was really good."

The digital crafting sphere provdided convenience and some serious inspiration. "The whole knitting and handwork revival is fueled by the internet and social media," says Fautley, "the fact that you're constantly exposed to other people's projects and inspiration in a way that didn't usually used to happen."

And those pandemic projects from amateurs and experts alike helped keep the virtual doors open and the lights on. "People are less apprehensive about taking on something that once seemed enormous—like a blanket or a sweater," says Fautley. "Because they're just like, 'What else am I going to do?'"


Survey says

Selected answers to the question: What would have to change for Halifax to feel back to normal? Any live concert. » Getting to dance at The Dome or The Seahorse. » No masks in public. » Gatherings like the Jazz Fest. » Not hearing the word “Covid” on everyone's lips! » Weddings and funerals and physical closeness. » I'd get to sit next to my Mom and spend more than 30 minutes of supervised visitation with her in long-term care. » Full restaurants. » Less awkwardness in the grocery stores. » Cruise boats in our harbour. » What is normal? Let's keep this sort of slow and more intentional life!

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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Taking Blk Gottingen is back for a fall edition

Vendors like No Days Off Apparel have seen growth thanks to the pop-up market.

Posted By on Thu, Sep 24, 2020 at 3:56 PM

Chaz Samuel and Shayna Cort of No Days Off apparel will be back for another pop-up in Seven Bays Bouldering. - INSTAGRAM
  • Chaz Samuel and Shayna Cort of No Days Off apparel will be back for another pop-up in Seven Bays Bouldering.
  • Instagram
With two rounds under its belt, Taking Blk Gottingen—a market featuring Black-owned businesses—is going for a third this Saturday, September 26.

Organized by the North End Business Association, the pop-up market will span from Propeller Brewing at Gottingen near Cogswell to Fortune Doughnuts at Gottingen near Buddy Daye Street.

The 32 guest vendors will be selling and promoting products ranging from art and crafts to clothing, makeup, jewelry and food.

At Seven Bays Bouldering, No Days Off Apparel will be set up with never-before-sold products including custom masks and a new colour hat (pink!), as well as some of the most popular items of their streetwear and activewear brand.

“Our activewear seems to get some pretty good response and that’s really our niche, so we’re trying to like actually push forward into the activewear brand and the activewear market,” says co-owner Chaz Samuel.

No Days Off was set up at Seven Bays during the last event in August, and Samuel says it was a great way to meet new potential customers.

“We were really flattered with like how much good response we got, and we were really connecting with a lot of people. The sales were good also but more so just the fact that we were able to see new people and like other people that we’ve never seen before,” he tells The Coast.

No Days Off started last year in November, inspired by Samuel’s motto of pushing himself in work, school and athletics.

“Basically, the whole idea came because Chaz was very athletic, he’s into basketball and he actually played basketball in high school on a national team back home,” says Shayna Cort, co-owner along with Samuel and his long-time girlfriend. The duo met on their home island of Antigua before moving to Halifax for university.

“With all the knowledge that he had with basketball he started to do a summer camp in Antigua with kids,” says Cort. “The idea of No Days Off came cause he was working pretty hard during the summer with the kids and helping to boost their confidence, helping to boost their knowledge in basketball. And the whole idea just grew out of that and became infectious.”

Since that first spark of an idea, the No Days Off motto has grown to be interpreted in many different ways.

“What’s unique about No Days Off is that it’s specified to the individual. So we love that anybody can identify with what it is and what it means to them personally,” Cort says.

The NDO logo, designed by Cort, is featured on the brand’s apparel ranging from hoodies to crop tops, leggings, shorts hats and more. Each piece is designed by the pair.

“We started off with like streetwear, so like hoodies, caps, t-shirts, crewnecks, and then just recently we actually started off and branched off into activewear,” says Samuel.

The upcoming market will be a mix of new items and those from the most recent athletic collection, Resilience, released in early August.

“We’ll have new masks in and a pink hat because breast cancer awareness month is coming up,” says Cort.

The company is big on social issues, having donated the proceeds from their recent NDOxBLM collection to the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia. The duo says they’re happy to be a part of the wider Halifax community and want to be able to give back even more in the future.

“Growing up in Antigua there is like a really big sense of community,” Cort says. 
“And that’s one thing that we love here in Halifax and why I’ve stayed here for so long and why Chaz himself sort of fell in love with the city here, because it’s also about that sense of community.”

No Days Off will be set up at Seven Bays Bouldering on Saturday from 12-5pm. For the full list of Taking Blk Gottingen vendors, check out the Facebook event and the map below.
 
NEBA
  • NEBA
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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Supernova Market hopes to lift makers' spirits this Saturday

With most in-person events cancelled, market vendors are seeing decreased revenue this year.

Posted By on Tue, Sep 22, 2020 at 12:15 PM

THE COAST
  • the coast
Picture an autumn craft market: tiny tables filled with kitschy homemade items, baskets filled to the brim with fresh-baked loaves of bread and candles that smell like a crisp, dewy morning. And people. People everywhere. People milling about between tables, walking each and every way, touching everything and sampling goodies and hugging their friends.

Thanks to COVID-19, market scenes like this won’t exist this year. But one market—the Supernova Market—will spring up this coming Saturday, September 26.

The curated event with 30 vendors will be hosted at Rogers Square in Halifax, the only event to be held there in 2020, according to organizer Jacquelyn Miccolis.

“It’s somewhat of a new space, it hasn’t been utilized very well I don’t think,"says Miccolis, who also owns Sparkles n' Sawdust art studio on Argyle Street.

"They were very excited when I approached them and asked if we could rent this space because like, their ideal events for this space are cultural, arts, you know, these types of events. So they were pretty quick to agree to booking us.”

The Supernova Market was first planned well before the pandemic, and Miccolis was forced to postpone from the original date in May and downsize her planning team to a one-woman operation.

“We had a date and everything and we had been advertising it, posters were all around the city, we had all the vendors chosen, we were ready to go and then, well, the whole city shut down,” she tells The Coast.

The vendors will range from Glitterbean Cafe and Good Parma to Shimmering Seas Jewelry and Travis Smith art. Because it's a curated market, no one will be selling the same thing.

“We made sure that there were no overlaps. So every type of vendor is representing their type of product,” Miccolis says. “Because a lot of vendors are hurting right now because there’s nowhere else to sell, we want to maximize the chance for them to profit and have a good experience.”

The full list of vendors for the Supernova Market. - INSTAGRAM
  • The full list of vendors for the Supernova Market.
  • instagram
Many of the vendors are regulars at the Seaport Farmers Market, where Miccolis also has connections.

“I’m hoping a lot of people will be excited to come down and support some of the Seaport Market vendors that haven’t been able to get the sales that they are used to,” she says. “The Seaport Market just recently reopened only a couple weeks ago. I don’t think they’re getting the foot traffic that they hoped for and a lot of the vendors haven’t returned, so I’m hoping that this will be kind of a good compensation."

Though the vendors are familiar faces in the Halifax craft community, the market will look a bit different than the markets of the days of yore (six months ago before Covid).

“We hired a bunch of security so we’re going to have an arbour entrance, an arbour exit, all the area roped off to ensure that no more than 250 people are inside at a time as per, right now, the provincial guidelines and laws for the pandemic,” says Miccolis.

Although Rogers Square is considered an outdoor space, because it’s a private event masks will be mandatory. There will also be directional marking on the ground and a one-way flow of foot traffic inside the market space.

“Originally when I talked to the venue they said 45 [vendors] but this was prior to the pandemic. So, we cut it down a bit so we can ensure the two-meter distance between each vendor,” says Miccolis.

The event is from 1-6pm on Saturday, and the first hour will also include a dance performance from local bellydance group The Halifax Shimmy Mob, who are raising money for Alice House. “It’s a nice little thing to be able to give them the space to raise the money that they would’ve missed out on,” says Miccolis.

Although the Supernova Market is only a one-day event, Miccolis hopes it can make up a bit for all the other markets that have been cancelled, postponed or seen a lack of customers.

With the holiday shopping season looming, holiday craft markets are trying to find ways to make their 2020 events work. In mid-September, the Christmas at the Forum announced they will be going ahead with a different, yet-to-be-announced, form of the market.

“Right now, with indoor venues having such a small cap on what they’re allowed to have there’d be no way to host a craft market like that,” says Miccolis. “And really there is no covered outdoor venues besides Rogers Square, and outdoor markets are not usually as popular because of the weather being so unpredictable in Nova Scotia.”

Based on the success of the Supernova Market this weekend, there may be a December edition, Miccolis says, “I’m hoping if this event goes off without a hitch I’ll host another during the holiday season.”
 
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Thursday, August 13, 2020

Plans are in the works for Canada's only Black hair school to open in Halifax

Samantha Dixon Slawter's hopes Crown of Beauty Institute and Association can make for more inclusive hairdressing in the city.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 13, 2020 at 5:55 PM

click image Samantha Dixon Slawter has been caring for Black hair in Halifax for 25  years, and now hopes to open up a new school dedicated to teaching her craft. - VIA FACEBOOK
  • Samantha Dixon Slawter has been caring for Black hair in Halifax for 25 years, and now hopes to open up a new school dedicated to teaching her craft.
  • Via facebook

It was Jennifer Kpolu’s twentieth birthday and she wanted a pixie haircut. She went from salon to salon but only got bad news.

“They were either fully booked or they just didn’t know how to cut Black hair,” she says. After several dead ends, she found a salon at Park Lane Mall that agreed to cut her hair. “By the time he was done, the hair was, it was far from the hairstyle that I wanted,” she says even after showing him a picture of what she wanted. 

“I accepted my fate that day because I felt like it was Black hair and nobody really knows how to cut it,” she says, but now, two years later things may be changing in her favour. 

Viola Desmond is known for her civil rights work—but she also trailblazed hair school for Black Nova Scotians.
  • Viola Desmond is known for her civil rights work—but she also trailblazed hair school for Black Nova Scotians.

That’s because what will be known as this generation’s first Black hair school in Canada is in the works here in Halifax. The last time a school like this was opened was 77 years ago in 1943 when Viola Desmond started The Desmond School of Beauty Culture. She'd opened the school for Black women who weren’t allowed to attend white-only beauty schools at the time. 

Hairstylist and owner of Styles by SD Ltd. Samantha Dixon Slawter is the founder of this hair school, which will be called Crown of Beauty Institute and Association, and she says she's been working towards this for 30 years. 

“It’s necessary. And Black beauty culture needs to be recognized,” she says.

Dixon Slawter grew up in a family of hairstylists and says she had always known the significance of Black beauty. “To me, Black beauty was it. We knew the importance of it,” she says.

She says a woman who trained under Viola Desmond trained her in the use of Marcel curling irons and piqued her interest in the history of Black beauty in Nova Scotia. “So, one of my aims is to actually have Black beauty culture acknowledged as a course of study in Nova Scotia.” 

Dixon Slawter says after she got her hairdressing license through an apprenticeship 35 years ago, people were no longer allowed to get their license that way. And for 30 years, she had requested for apprenticeship training to be reintroduced. “So that for one, Black people can train their own stylists and even for me, as a salon owner, I want to train my own stylists and I was unable to,” she says.

But it's since changed again now and hairstylists can get their licenses through apprenticeship. “But that’s not good enough for us. They’re still not training you on Black hair care,” she says. “There’s no school that can train you on Black hair.” Most cosmetology diploma programs take two years and combine in-class learning with hours spent training—but very little focus is put on Black hair.

Judy Antonello, campus manager at CBBC Career College in Halifax says they spend about 600 of 1,500 hours teaching the category of textured hair, which Black hair falls under. “So we do like chemical texturing, chemical relaxing, we do wigs and extensions and hair design with blowdrying and styling,” she says.She says she recognizes that CBBC doesn't spend enough time teaching about Black hair specifically but are looking at doing more in the future. “We are definitely getting better and we realize that we have to spend more time.”

At Dixon Slawter’s Crown of Beauty Institute and Association, it will be all about learning how to care for and style Black hair in two streams: Apprenticeship and a private career college. 

Dixon Slawter says now that her applications for the school are in, she’s hopeful they will get approved. “We see a future, we do see promise in having the application in,” she says. “This is the first time they’ve offered an apprenticeship to study Black hair care.” And although the school will just start in Nova Scotia, she hopes that soon, it will be the same throughout the country.

She and her aunt, Natherine Willis, one of the first Black hairdressers with a master instructor’s license in hairdressing will be doing the teaching. 

The school will start with a small size of seven students. “We want to start off small so we can get people trained efficiently and effectively,” she says. Desmond's school was also small, graduating only 15 students each year

Dixon Slawter's website says her salon is about hair as a texture, not a colour. “When you talk about hairdressing, you should be able to know hair textures,” she says. “Hair is not just a colour. Meaning it’s not just Black and white. Hair is a texture.”

Knowing that, she says hairdressing in Nova Scotia has a long way to go with being inclusive and her school will work toward making this happen.

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Alexa Pope closes its doors

The trendy downtown boutique is selling off all inventory now online.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 13, 2020 at 3:18 PM

Marianne Thomson and Lauren Wambolt, posing for The Coast in their now-shuttered storefront in 2019. - RYAN WILLIAMS
  • Marianne Thomson and Lauren Wambolt, posing for The Coast in their now-shuttered storefront in 2019.
  • RYAN WILLIAMS

Seven years ago, Marianne Thomson and Lauren Wambolt launched their online store Alexa Pope, making waves in the Halifax fashion scene with a minimalistic and chic aesthetic. Later, the store would get an IRL footprint at 1477 Lower Water Street, eventually expanding in 2019 to serve even more looks inside its airy space.

Along the way, Alexa Pope never lost its fashion-forward focus, offering more looks pulled from your IG feed than almost any other shop downtown. 


The journey to becoming successful entrepreneurs for Thomson and Wambolt was not an easy path. Putting in long nights and investing hundreds of their own dollars in their business finally paid off when they were able to build success for themselves, appealing to fashion go-getters with a passion for chasing the next hot trend. ("We've worked for oil companies doing dispatch at night, we worked for lawn-care companies. These were jobs we got that were great that we could use to work around our schedule so we could give our all to Alexa Pope," Thomson told The Coast last year.)


But now, after all these years of owning and operating one of Halifax’s trendiest retailers on Lower Water Street, Thomson and Wambolt announced July 31st via their public Instagram that they would be closing.


“It has been a tough few months for everyone but we feel like this is the right choice for us to make,” the pair wrote on their business Instagram.


Their post has been followed with support, with many commenters saying how much they will miss the two fashion moguls.


Although this is the end of that Alexa Pope store, it's not the end for Thomson and Wambolt: “We are ready for the next chapter in our lives and believe when one door closes, another will open,” They wrote on their Instagram.


The shop is currently having a warehouse sale online until all of its inventory is gone—so it’s now or never when it comes to snagging some Alexa Pope merchandise.

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Thursday, August 6, 2020

Halifax is losing one of its last antique shops

Both the shop and the building it calls home are remnants of Halifax's history that will soon be gone.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 6, 2020 at 9:15 AM

The building has been sold to a developer and will be torn down. - VICTORIA WALTON
  • The building has been sold to a developer and will be torn down.
  • victoria walton
After 25 years in business, McLellan Antiques & Restoration on Agricola Street is closing its doors to customers. Owner Jim McLellan will still spend his semi-retired days restoring furniture, but only on a part-time basis.

“My restoration will continue on a smaller scale. I won’t be doing pianos, dining sets, I won’t have employees — it’ll just be a one-man operation,” he tells The Coast in between helping customers find pieces in the narrow, cluttered storefront (2738 Agricola Street). Walking into McLellan's, dozens of dim light fixtures adorn the walls, antique kitchenware sits atop 100-year-old tables, and an antique gramophone with a petal blue bell sits nestled beside a velvety red chair.

Owner Jim McLellan came to Halifax from California in the '90s to open his Agricola Street storefront. - VICTORIA WALTON
  • Owner Jim McLellan came to Halifax from California in the '90s to open his Agricola Street storefront.
  • victoria walton
“We specialize in furniture, lighting, weapons, tools,” says McLellan. Some items, like a cash register and a solid oak wood hall tree, he’s keeping for himself. But everything else will be put on sale over the coming weeks before the shop closes at the end of August.

When it does, it will leave few antique shops in a city where there used to be many. “There used to be six antique dealers in the area, and they all closed down around 15 years ago,” says McLellan.

Finer Things Antiques & Curios (6438 Quinpool Road) and Hayes Antiques (5737 McCully Street) may well be the only antique shops remaining on the peninsula. Dartmouth store Retrospekt (166 Ochterloney Street) sells mid-century modern furniture, and a group of local vintage vendors and thrifters have popped up on Instagram, but with a different vibe than the piled-high storefront of McLellan’s.

Originally from California, Jim McLellan moved to Halifax in 1995 to open his own store. But over the past two and a half decades, era-specific shoppers have become few and far between.

“Fifteen years ago people stopped largely buying antiques, especially furniture, especially Victorian furniture,” he says.

For several years, McLellan says the storefront hasn’t been profitable. “My restoration side of the business is booming and it’s always done well. But it’s kind of had to support the sales side, so that’s why I’m going to close the store permanently.”

Once the shop closes, McLellan can be reached via his email, mclellanantiques@gmail.com. - VICTORIA WALTON
  • Once the shop closes, McLellan can be reached via his email, mclellanantiques@gmail.com.
  • victoria walton
In place of the small, two-storey blue house the antiques shop is in, will eventually grow a development. McLellan originally planned to sell the building to a women’s charity, but the deal fell through at the last minute.

“The same day, the developer that bought the properties next door, he offered me extra money and so I said OK,” he says. “I didn’t want it to be torn down, but there you go.”

Although the storefront will close, McLellan will continue to repair and restore furniture at a new workshop. He says “it’s time” to move on, and despite his best attempts to preserve the building, it was only a matter of time before gentrification continued to creep into the north end.

“It’s been gentrified a lot. Whole blocks, you don’t have to go far. just off Almon, on both sides of Robie,” says McLellan. “I don’t know where all the people are going to come from to fill the condos, but they keep building them.”
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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Zero waste Tare Shop to expand to Dartmouth this fall

Some stores stopped allowing reusable packaging during the pandemic, but Tare’s green mission continues.

Posted By on Wed, Aug 5, 2020 at 8:37 AM

116134312_330573408081041_4539096093897488003_n.jpg
When Kate Pepler opened the Tare Shop in October 2018, it was the first independent zero waste store in Halifax. Inside the Cornwallis Street shop, walls are lined with clear containers of oats, dried mango, basmati rice and cleaning supplies.

Since those early days, Pepler has always dreamed of expanding, as many small business owners do. In fall 2020 that dream will become reality as the Tare Shop opens a second location at 21 Portland Street, Dartmouth.

“I kind of paused throughout quarantine but then this place came up and the timing was right, and it’s in a perfect location right on Portland Street,” Pepler tells The Coast.

When it opens, the new store will be a mirror image of the current Tare Shop, with pantry items, household goods and even a cafe (the Halifax location’s cafe will re-open by then as well, pandemic willing). The new location will be bigger than the current 800 square foot shop, allowing for some expansion and tailoring to the Dartmouth side of the city.

“We’ll probably just start with the same inventory and then grow from there,” says Pepler, citing a customer-driven model that's worked in Halifax. “How we’ve been adding products in this location is what folks have been asking for.”

Things will be busy for Pepler, who runs the shop by herself but gives credit to her staff. “It’s definitely going to be busier for me. It is my baby. So, I’m having another baby,” she laughs. “But I have a really solid team here who are all really excited for this growth and just really looking forward to it.”

Pepler says plenty of her customers already come from Dartmouth, and the location will also be closer for regular customers who drive in from the Eastern Shore or beyond. “It feels good that people are excited for this and ready for this.”

Throughout the pandemic, the Tare Shop closed for just two weeks to figure out how to allow shoppers to physically distance and employees to sanitize. That was the only interruption to its zero waste mission.

“We’ve kind of increased our cleaning protocols and like we sanitize things in between every use, like surfaces, and then sanitize all high-touch areas once an hour,” says Pepler. “And with the containers, we are being very strict about the containers people bring in, making sure that they’re clean and empty “

Stores like Bulk Barn that used to offer “bring your own container” have currently stopped that program, and grocery stores even stopped allowing reusable bags at the height of the pandemic.

“There was an article that came out, over 100 scientists and health professionals said that using reusables is safe as long as they’re being cleaned,” Pepler says. “But a lot of businesses are still only using plastic bags, are not allowing you to bring reusables and stuff like that.”

The Tare Shop currently allows for five customers at a time, and unlike before the pandemic, containers must be completely empty of product. But you can still stock up on most pantry items and even a few frozen goods and cleaning supplies, without using any plastic in the process.

“I think a lot of people are becoming more and more frustrated, so really excited to be able to offer even more folks the opportunity to shop package-free and shop sustainably throughout this,” says Pepler.

In Dartmouth’s growing downtown, the shop will sit directly across from The Canteen, in the space that was originally supposed to be occupied by the Town’s End Tavern.

“It’s still under construction, so we take ownership soon once a bit more of their work is complete, and then we can get started on all of our stuff,” says Pepler.

But besides its reputation as a vibrant young downtown, Portland Street is also smack dab in the middle of a food desert, with the closest grocery store being the No Frills on Wyse Road. “In the downtown core there is no place to find groceries really. I know Café Goodluck has started to do a little pantry style, but just like this area”—around Tare Shop’s north end Halifax location—“there’s not really a spot to buy groceries.”

With the growth of the store, Pepler is excited to help water that food desert, and to work with local vendors and suppliers to feature their products in The Tare Shop’s newest iteration. “Dartmouth really feels like the right, natural next step.”
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Saturday, July 25, 2020

Cape and Cowl creates a space for queer, nerdy youth to flourish

Everyone can be themselves, the only pretending at Cape & Cowl is in the fantasy worlds of comic books.

Posted By on Sat, Jul 25, 2020 at 12:00 PM

Jay Roy wanted to create a safe space for the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Sackville. - SUBMITTED
  • Jay Roy wanted to create a safe space for the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Sackville.
  • submitted
Pride comes around only once a year, but Cape & Cowl Comics & Collectibles in Lower Sackville is a safe place for all genders, all year long.

“I like to wear my heart on my sleeve, I wear my activism on my sleeve, so my business is very much a social enterprise,” says owner Jay Roy.

In 2014, Roy opened the store at its first location—then, in December 2019 moved down the road to 622 Sackville Drive, near the library. Along with the move came a bigger and more accessible space.

“The doors at my original space was a little difficult to get in, so when I moved I wanted to move specifically to a space where we have a more accessible entrance, so I believe I’ve achieved that,” says Roy.

From the very beginning though, accessibility and inclusion were the focus for Cape & Cowl.

“Not only do I make a pointed effort to support local, I also make it a point to show diverse representation in all body types, all skin tones, all backgrounds, all cultures,” says Roy.

Before he founded Cape & Cowl, Roy worked at other comics stores, but often faced challenges as a transgender person. “Being in charge of my own space, being able to cater and sort of be a body guard against bullying for gender expression and things like that in my own space, I really wanted to do that,” he explains.

But one connection from those early days stuck with Roy—a friendship with Leighann Wichman. “She was account 166 at the store,” he recalls.

The Leighann Wichmann Safe Place is home to counselling sessions, D&D nights and more. - CAPEANDCOWLCOMICS.CA
  • The Leighann Wichmann Safe Place is home to counselling sessions, D&D nights and more.
  • capeandcowlcomics.ca
As executive director of The Youth Project, Wichman helped Roy grow in the queer community and find himself. “Leighann had such an impact on my life. And so my drop-in centre is named the Leighann Wichman Safe Place, because we unfortunately lost her a few years back,” he says.

Within Cape & Cowl, the room dedicated to Wichman is used for various purposes (or it was before COVID, at least), including Autism Nova Scotia’s D&D game night and free counselling sessions for 2SLGBTQ+ youth provided by the NSHA.

“I decided to meet youth where they were at, and made it so that if they had to tell their parents or their guardians, ‘I’m just going to the comic book store,’ those parents or guardians don’t necessarily need to know the reason why," says Roy. “Maybe they’re going to seek help, maybe they’re going to buy a new comic, that’s not their business.”

Cape & Cowl is still closed to foot traffic right now, because many of its customers are immune-compromised. But Roy is eager to be the “personal shopper” for anyone wishing to purchase online for pickup, deliveries, or mail order.

The shop is also giving back to Black Lives Matter charities in the wake of recent protests and is also selling Harry Potter books with all proceeds going to local charities that support trans youth after JK Rowling outed herself as a TERF. (“I’m a sassy human being so I like to think that maybe she was that and was annoyed,” Roy laughs.)

But above all, the shop owner wants to create the space he wishes he had as a youth, one where everyone can truly be themselves. “I use a lot of my square footage to give back to, well, basically create a space I could’ve used as a kid,” he says.
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Friday, July 24, 2020

Coeur Clothing’s unisex designs put Pride front and centre

Queer, unisex designs are the priority all year long for Coeur Clothing

Posted By on Fri, Jul 24, 2020 at 4:11 PM

This year's Pride design references the Stonewall riots in NYC in 1969, which are thought to be the origins of today's Pride parades. - ANISA FRANCOEUR
  • This year's Pride design references the Stonewall riots in NYC in 1969, which are thought to be the origins of today's Pride parades.
  • Anisa Francoeur
When Anisa Francoeur first started Coeur Clothing, it was based on a principle one of her professors told her during a short stint in NSCAD’s design program.

“I had a design teacher that always told me don’t create just to create, create for something. So I feel like it’s a big responsibility as a designer to always notice what you’re doing it for. If you want to make something, have a back for it,” she says.

With a graphic design degree from NSCC in her back pocket, Francoeur has always been a creator with an interest in fashion. “All through my life, I’ve been like an artist, painter and I’ve dabbled in Photoshop and whatever,” she says.

So the designer started Coeur Clothing in 2017 with the objective of giving back to groups she felt passionate about. Each design has a charity behind it, like Tree Canada, the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia and WWF Canada.

But Francoeur also wanted to create clothing that appealed to people who might fall outside traditional gender norms.

Francoeur designs all the shirts, bags and artwork herself. - COEUR CLOTHING INSTAGRAM
  • Francoeur designs all the shirts, bags and artwork herself.
  • coeur clothing instagram
“My involvement with the queer community and my design, I wanted to collab it, so I thought that I would create a platform, an inclusive platform to create clothing,” she says.

As a lesbian woman, Francoeur says she was fed up with the division of male and female in many traditional clothing stores. “You walk into a store and you either go left or right, women, men, children. There’s like three sections, and I felt uncomfortable because I want to go to both,” she says.

With new designs released each season, Coeur Clothing’s most recent Pride shirt references the Stonewall riots in New York City in 1969, and $5 from each shirt goes to The Youth Project in Halifax.

“We just went with wording and thought it would be good inclusivity for what’s going on with the Black Lives Matter movement and also queer, I think both are important. So we wanted to combine both and release something that would really be for everybody and that would be a statement for everything that’s going on right now,” says Francoeur.

COEUR CLOTHING INSTAGRAM
  • coeur clothing instagram
An alternative vintage design shows queer bars from Halifax over the years, including the iconic Menz & Mollyz, which closed permanently in March.

In the coming months, Francoeur has plans to work with other local artists, including a collab with Fat Chance Vintage to print Coeur's designs on pre-loved clothing. Coeur is also currently doing pre-sales on a shirt designed by Emerson Roach from queer-focused Outlaw Tattoo.

“I really want to collab with some tattoo artists, because our designs are heavily tattoo influenced,” Francoeur says.

She also aspires to get the clothing into retail stores that support local businesses, like Trainyard General Store and Riot Pixie, both in Dartmouth. For now, the unisex clothing is available online and through Coeur Clothing’s Instagram page.

“You don’t see it in stores much. I just wanted it to be all year round,” she says. “Pride is really just the one month, and I think people should continue it all year.”
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Queer-run Outlaw Tattoo breaks the mould

Gabe "Squalor" David is making a permanent mark on the lives of queer folk in Halifax.

Posted By on Fri, Jul 24, 2020 at 1:00 PM

Outlaw Tatttoo adds a pop of colour to North Street with its bright teal shopfront. - INSTAGRAM
  • Outlaw Tatttoo adds a pop of colour to North Street with its bright teal shopfront.
  • instagram
Whether it was drawing, writing, or playing an instrument, Gabe “Squalor” David has been expressing herself creatively for a long time.

With a passion for art spanning more than a decade, David and her art finally found a permanent place—literally—to call home at Outlaw Country Tattoo Co. in October 2018.

Despite being open for less than two years, David has been responsible for needling her precise line work and bold designs onto the skin of hundreds of Haligonians.

But for David, who also plays guitar in local indie rock band Holy Crow, it’s not about fame.

In her six years of working for other people, David says there were many times she was told by a tattoo shop to pack up her stuff and leave without reason.

"I knew there wasn’t really any queer safe spaces in tattooing, and so I knew that I would only last so long jumping shop to shop and trying to make it work,” she says. “So every little extra bit of money I was saving up just in case I couldn’t find the next shop to be at.”

Eventually, David grew tired of shop-hopping and decided to open her own shop at 6103 North Street.

“Fortunately, we had people care enough about what we were doing to just give us just a tiny bit of money. A lot of shops and businesses open with something like thirty grand but we did it with like ten grand. I happened to save up a lot of money myself, from working at other places,” says David.

David and her longtime friend and roommate Tucker Bottomley run the shop together, with the goal of creating a workspace that’s more than just a job. Outlaw hires other 2SLGBTQ+ artists who may not fit in elsewhere and takes on apprentices who are just starting out.

Gabe David, co-founder of Outlaw Tatttoo, also spends her days playing banjo and caring for her chickens. - INSTAGRAM
  • Gabe David, co-founder of Outlaw Tatttoo, also spends her days playing banjo and caring for her chickens.
  • instagram
“We’re creating a space together and operating it together,” says David. “Everybody has needs. I definitely wanted to create a space for a long time and I definitely wanted to do this and teach other queer people,” she adds.

Going from a self-described “crust punk” to an established business owner (who’s still punk as heck) is no easy feat, and David says she’s still learning every day.

“As much as I wanted to be the cool boss, I realized once I started off in the studio...the cool boss is a problematic figure,” says David. “It’s been a tricky journey learning how to balance wanting to be everybody’s friend but understanding I can’t always be,” she adds.

In terms of the future, David says Outlaw plans to stay open as long as they’re able. “It would be one thing if this was just a fun adventure but it’s our livelihood,” she says.

For now, the shop is doing well even during COVID, and David has high hopes for the next few years. “I had seen a lot of queer tattoo shops pop up in major cities and I don’t think our town is too small for that,” says David.

The tattoo artist sees herself as an example of what happens when you turn your passion into a job. Above also else, David has made a permanent mark on the lives of so many queer folk and otherwise.

“I do get a lot of love and appreciation from the community,” she says. “Which I’m so friggin’ grateful for.”
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Thursday, July 9, 2020

Don’t pass me by: Nova Scotia's hidden gems

Don’t stick to the rivers and lakes you’re used to; try chasing some waterfalls this summer.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2020 at 5:00 PM

Take a plunge into Mary Ann Falls next time you're in the highlands. - DERRICK FUNK
  • Take a plunge into Mary Ann Falls next time you're in the highlands.
  • DERRICK FUNK

You're planning a weekend road trip. Maybe it's somewhere you go every summer, or maybe it's a whole new Nova Scotian adventure you're inspired to take because of the COVID-19 travel restrictions. This province has countless popular tourist destinations that are usually packed to the brim with come-from-aways. But they won't come this year, so it's the perfect opportunity to check it out.

While you're there, take a look around. Where are the locals having lunch? What's that cute, kitschy shop on the corner with the stuffed lobster in the window? What happens if you take the road less travelled? Here are some recommendations for just about any area of the province. You might find yourself a new favourite spot, and it'll be one the tourists don't know about.

The Valley

If you're whale watching in Digby, check out Roof Hound Brewing Co. (2580 Ridge Road, Digby), for outside-the-box brews like the Keltic Devil porter and the Big Stink IPA. Owner Les Barr was a contestant on Season 3 of MasterChef Canada, and whips up some yummy eats. If you're a bit further up the Valley, they've also got a Kingston location.

If you're headed to Cape Split for the view, hit up nearby I Scream (9838 Main Street) in Canning afterwards for a sweet cone to make it all worthwhile. Or skip the hike and just get the ice cream, we don't make the rules.

If you're checking out the 17 acres of beauty that is the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens, make sure you have lunch at The Crow's Nest AKA Shore Road Seafood (3931 Shore Road, Hillsburn) for the best and freshest seafood you can find.


South Shore

If you're spending a day at The Ovens, check out family-owned Rose Bay General Store (3452 Highway 332) just 10 minutes down the road. It's the general store of your dreams, with local meat and produce, homemade sweets and even a pretty decent wine selection. They've also got a cute bistro where you can grab a sandwich or pizza on your way to Sand Dollar Beach next door.

The isolated saunas at Sensea Nordic Spa will make you forget all your worries. - SUBMITTED
  • The isolated saunas at Sensea Nordic Spa will make you forget all your worries.
  • SUBMITTED
If you're thinking of digging for treasure at Oak Island, treat yourself to a day where you're the real gem at Sensea Nordic Spa (40 Sensea Road, Chester). Dip into their pools that overlook the nearby lake or relax in a sauna to watch your stress melt away.

If you're headed for a getaway at White Point Beach resort, make a secondhand shopping trip of it by hitting up nearby Guy's Frenchy's (344 Main Street, Liverpool). Tucked away in a strip mall, this second-hand haven has a wide selection of men's wear and plus size clothing.


Cape Breton

If you're driving the Cabot Trail, check out Charlene's Restaurant (9657 Highway 105) in Whycocomagh. It's only doing take-out for now, but there's no better way to eat some fish and chips than while watching the sunset over the mountains.

If you spend a day at Ingonish beach, be sure to stop at The Dancing Moose Café (42691 Cabot Trail Road, Birch Plain) on your way back. Their Dutch pancakes aren't your typical Nova Scotian fare but you can forego seafood for one night, right?

And if you're chasing literal waterfalls, Mary Ann Falls, located inside the Highlands National Park is the spot for both a picturesque hike and a plunge under the water.


Central and Northern NS

Rafting down the Shubie river isn't for the faint of heart. - NOVA SCOTIA.CA
  • Rafting down the Shubie river isn't for the faint of heart.
  • NOVA SCOTIA.CA
If you're headed to Shubenacadie Wildlife Park (149 Creighton Road) you can make your afternoon a bit more daring by venturing to the mouth of the Shubenacadie River, where tidal bore rafting abounds.

If you're picking up goodies at Masstown Market (10622 Trunk 2, Debert), head to nearby Great Village Antiques (8728 Highway 2) to redecorate your whole apartment with vintage paintings, clocks and other housewares.

The Earltown General store in Tatamagouche is stocked with all the essentials and homemade goods you'll ever need. - SUBMITTED
  • The Earltown General store in Tatamagouche is stocked with all the essentials and homemade goods you'll ever need.
  • SUBMITTED

Planning a stay on the north shore, where beaches are plentiful and the water is warm(er)? Spend a night inside one of seven train cabooses at the Tatamagouche Train Station (21 Station Road), and sip an afternoon away at Tata Brew Co. (235 Main Street). You can even head to the old Earltown General Store (5556 Highway 311) for homemade sweets, jams and jellies.

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Shop local swimwear, whatever your style

With no time to wait for online orders, shop local this summer and support small biz while you're at it.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2020 at 5:00 PM

Martinique Swim's Cow Bay showroom is just minutes from Rainbow Haven beach. - ALIX SURETTE
  • Martinique Swim's Cow Bay showroom is just minutes from Rainbow Haven beach.
  • ALIX SURETTE

The hunt for the perfect suit meets its match with Simone Prisenberg's splurge-worthy swimwear. As owner and operator of Martinique Swim, Prisenberg's cute suits are available at several stores or directly from martiniqueswim.com. Head to the showroom in Cow Bay (by appointment only) for a personalized fitting and consultation, or pick one up at Biscuit General Store (1661 Argyle Street) or Pro Skates (6451 Quinpool Road).

If you want swimwear that's printed, Thief & Bandit (1673 Barrington Street, Suite 200) is the brand for you. Whether you're a stargazer who's into an out-of-this-world pattern or you're channeling Carole Baskin with a cheetah-print bikini, Thief & Bandit's swimwear will make you the life of the pool party. Find them at thiefandbandit.com.

Sueno Swimwear owner Joanne Tranter grew up surrounded by beaches in South Wales, travelling to California and Mexico as she learned to surf, and began making her own bikinis before settling in Black Point. Tranter launched her business in 2012 and since then has been creating bold prints and asymmetrical patterns, available on her Etsy shop or at suenoclothing.com.

Local designers Ana & Zac have partnered with Sueno for a new collection that's minimalist and basic in all the right ways. Check it out at anaandzac.ca/collections/sueno.

Sisters Omeda and Anna launched label Meda Swim in 2015. Its style selection skews simple, but the basic suits are flattering on all body types and are named after different Canadian towns. Their swimsuit models are all friends, mothers, and women they know in real life. Shop at medaswim.com.

Agricola Street shop Sattva Boutique (2453 Agricola Street) stocks swimwear from size-inclusive brand Mimi & August, based out of Montreal. Grab a few of the high-quality Canadian-made suits in store, or check out the full collection online at mimiandaugust.com.

If you're looking for a one-of-a-kind swimsuit, Girl on the Moon's got you. You can literally make your own with patterns from crochet guru Girl On The Moon, AKA Alison Durning. After learning how to make bags and baskets, Durning was hooked on crochet, and began her Etsy business in 2015. Find her on Instagram @girlonthemooncrochet.

Silken Lingerie store in Sunnyside Mall (1595 Bedford Highway) is for people looking for a bit more care in their swimwear-buying experience. Owner Morva Castellani and her staff will help you with a free bra fitting to find the perfect size, and they even offer a specialty selection of D+ cup size swimwear and mastectomy swimwear. silkenlingerie.ca/

If you've had no luck with the usual suspects, try thrifting your next swimsuit. Check out Fat Chance Vintage, Me + You Thrift, or The Bounty Hfx on Instagram to find a pre-loved suit you can rock all summer. Bonus: The Bounty also has a selection of items available at Lost & Found (2383 Agricola Street).

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Thursday, June 18, 2020

Salons and barber shops booked up for weeks after re-opening

You're not alone if your stylist's next open slot isn't until July

Posted By on Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 10:30 AM

Thumpers stylists masked up for re-opening of salons. - THUMPERS SALON
  • Thumpers stylists masked up for re-opening of salons.
  • Thumpers Salon
Starting on May 27, Marvin Upshaw was bombarded with phone calls. The owner and head barber at Ascension Barbershop began taking bookings as soon as Premier McNeil and Dr. Strang announced the re-opening, scheduling appointments starting June 5.

“Our clients have been nothing but supportive, always contacting us saying, ‘Book me in ahead, I’m waiting for a cut.’ Obviously they’re pretty long overdue,” Upshaw tells The Coast.

After being closed for the better part of three months, the team at Ascension’s two locations—in Lower Sackville and Wolfville—were ready to re-open.

“All the barbers seemed quite excited. It was almost like a resurgence, an energetic feel,” Upshaw says. Ascension’s third location at Dalhousie University hasn’t re-opened yet since no students are on campus.

Between the announcement and the re-opening, Upshaw says he read up on the rules from the Barber’s Association of Nova Scotia, which include both customers and barbers wearing masks, and not taking walk-in appointments.

“It actually assisted in stepping our game up, organization-wise,” Upshaw says. The owner says he didn’t feel rushed and had plenty of time to re-arrange the shop to allow for social distancing. “Prior to [re-opening] I ordered Plexiglass for in-between stations, proper disinfectant, new tools,” he says.
A fresh cut at Ascension in the new normal involves a mask for both client and barber - ASCENSION BARBERS
  • A fresh cut at Ascension in the new normal involves a mask for both client and barber
  • Ascension Barbers

The five barbers in Sackville and three in Wolfville also need to space out their appointments to allow enough time to clean workstations in between. (The regulations require 15 minutes between appointments.)

“It’s just enough time for you to be able to see who your next appointment is, do sanitation, provide the best service for your client,” says Upshaw.

Slowly, the barbers are getting through the list of overdue appointments and everyone is adjusting to the new way of doing things.

“It’s just our responsibility to sort of help the client adjust to a new way of booking, but once they get into it they seem to like it,” says Upshaw.

In downtown Halifax, Thumpers Salon owner Malcolm Norton says he made it through the shut-down by shifting the focus to his online store.

“We have a major online shop. I set this up seven years ago,” he says. At the time, his associates didn’t think it would fare well.

“People said to me, ‘Who’s buying shampoo online, Malcolm?” he laughs. But it paid off during the past few months: “We were one of the few salons in Canada that had an online shop, and we have exclusive lines,” Norton says.

Although Thumpers’ 12 stylists were laid off temporarily, Norton has brought them all back since the re-opening.

“We opened the morning of June 5 and we’ve been very busy, we’ve been booked solid. We’re booked solid for weeks ahead, too,” he tells The Coast.

The South Park Street salon usually has 22 chairs, allowing clients to move from one station to the next as they go from cut to colour to styling throughout their appointment. “We let eight chairs go, taken them out of the shop to give more space for physical distancing, and it’s actually working pretty well,” says Norton.

The salon and spa industry are regulated by the Cosmetology Association of Nova Scotia, which released similar regulations for re-opening. Norton says all salons are required to have membership, and the association is one of the few governing bodies that exist for the industry across the country.

“There’s only three left in Canada, the rest all went by the wayside years ago. So it’s just P.E.I., New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. he says. “And our guys were wonderful, they got us all the regulations from Dr. Strang and it’s been very good.”

Thumpers has put screens around their reception desk and has a limited number of two clients in the waiting room. Although it is interfering with walk-ins, Norton says the salon is finally getting into a rhythm: “I think as things have gone on it’s kind of become second-nature now,” he says.

Stylist Steph McNair says business at her shop, Maneland-Non Binary Beauty, has definitely been up since re-opening. “I’ve definitely had a large increase in customers, and probably about 25 percent new people,” McNair says.

Though she's the sole hairdresser at her Queen Street shop, McNair has taken on a new employee to help with admin work and ensuring new protocols. 

Steph McNair, owner of Manelad hair on Queen Street. - RACHEL MCGRATH
  • Steph McNair, owner of Manelad hair on Queen Street.
  • Rachel McGrath
“I took on an employee or a person to basically help me kind of keep the cleaning and disinfecting and the vibe of the salon flow,” she says. “So I have somebody that’s going along in between and making sure that that is all done, and so I can just focus on the guest and the haircut.”

Maneland only opened last year, but COVID-19 hasn’t taken the wind out of McNair's sails. She was ready to open right away on June 5 when the regulations allowed.

“I was, throughout the couple of months that I was closed, laying low, but watching and kind of paying attention to other salons around here but also in the States and stuff,” she says.

Upon re-opening, McNair says she’s gotten to have some fun with the shaggy styles that clients have grown out in isolation.

“Some are just working with the length that they’ve grown, some people are interested in what is happening on their head. Some people just kind of want to have it off,” she says.

Other clients have also had to change their hairstyles based on their new normal. “The masks are all different, and I have to cut some bangs a little bit shorter because of not being able to see as well with a mask on,” says McNair.
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In Print This Week

Vol 28, No 3
November 12, 2020

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