For people confined to peninsular Halifax, the myth of Bedford is one of a strange suburban village in the sky—a commuterville with lovely Basin views. But Bedford is fairly easily accessed—by buses numbered 80, 82, 84, 85, 86, 89 and 185—and, of course, by car, the most direct way to reach the businesses strung along the Bedford Highway. From the unofficial city limits at the Esquire (772 Bedford Hwy, 835-9033) to past the Oakmount Station Pub (1717 Bedford Hwy, 835-6544) there are unique shopping delights aplenty for anyone looking for fashion, food and fun.
Mill Cove Plaza (961 Bedford Hwy), near the future location of the Bedford Fast Ferry Terminal, is a fine place to pick up your booze (NSLC, 835-6093), your flooring (Wacky's, 835-9974) or your dinner (Brewsters, 832-0032).
Across the highway is Imagine Salon & Spa (950 Bedford Hwy, 832-5218), with a poster in the window for Paris Hilton's "Dream Catchers," apparently "The World's Best Hair Extensions." Shoptalk learns that that the full spa services at Imagine are booked mostly online, with clients receiving information on promotions and events through "email blasts." They're also licensed, which means you can enjoy a glass of wine or a mimosa with your salon/spa experience. Sign us up.
As we continue up the Bedford Highway, we note the surreal retro motel The Stardust (1067 Bedford Hwy, 1-877-472-3316), with Parseh Shiraz(406-9898), the delectable Persian restaurant peculiarly located right there in the motel parking lot.
Just past that is the new women's shoe boutique Sincerely, Shoes (1083 Bedford Hwy, 835-2552). Its manifesto, prominently displayed in the front foyer, explains everything:
"Our philosophy is to let you make a fashion statement without adversely affecting your bank statement. So while our shoes may tell the world (or HRM) how stylish you are, they also give you a little pat on the back for being practical. Sincerely, Shoes."
To the austerity thing, we can tell you that at the moment all shoes are 25 percent off, handbags and jewellery excluded. A popular item is the Fitflop, of which the black and bronze varieties are next to impossible to keep in the store due to their popularity, says manager Jennifer Broomhead.
Along the same side of the highway is another little boutique paradise, including Tony's Barbering (1139 Bedford Hwy, 835-7787), The Manila Pastry Company (also 1139 Bedford Hwy) and Healthy Selection (1129 Bedford Hwy, 832-7511), which carries a slew of health supplements, personal hygiene products, gluten-free foods and natural house cleaners. Manager Anna Devries points out a few of the locally made products in stock, including Thompson's Blueberry Juice, with berries picked, juiced and bottled in the Annapolis Valley.
At Tabrizi Rugs (1180 Bedford Hwy, 835-8585) top sellers are the clearly faux---but cute---polar bear and leopard print rugs, for $399 each, with plenty of higher-end rugs from all over the world available right now. We note a beaut for $1,298, down from $1,998.
Across the street is Pinky Scoopmore's for all your summer ice cream needs, and a little to the north is the second location of the excellent local video rental and retail emporium Video Difference (1239 Bedford Hwy, 835-0485).
Entity Boardshop (1270 Bedford Hwy, 406-3449) has been open a little more than six weeks, offering gear, hardware and apparel. "There's lots of faces, everyone's coming in," says owner Rob MacLeod, a hardcore skater and snowboarder himself. He says that he was a little surprised at the younger demographic that's taken a shine to the store, but then that's reflective of Bedford. "We're family-oriented," he says. "We'll build our sizes around it."
MacLeod says that people love the snow scene and that girls' clothing is really starting to pick up. Check out their web page at entityboardshop.com, sign up for their live Twitter feed since they update as soon as new stock comes in, or join the Facebook page for discounts and promotions. Saturday, July 11 is the date set for a grand opening celebration, featuring a barbeque out front and plenty of in-store deals.
As you cross the Sackville River, the malls and eateries really start to happen.
On the right is a plaza with the recently opened Tomavino's Ristorante (1475 Bedford Hwy, 835-7777). The menu changes regularly, but all entrees were half price when we dropped by---and they offer gluten-free pizza crust.
Next door at the same address is the stellar Select Sounds (835-3274), a CD/DVD/record store packed to the ceiling with great deals. Run by David Eisener and Michael James for almost 15 years, they've had to adapt their inventory to suit the changing times, but they're still going strong.
"You have to change your focus as things change...I don't think there are future CD collectors," says James.
"You see younger people buying more vinyl than CDs these days. Primarily '60s and '70s rock and heavy metal."
We note a key collector's piece on the wall is The Buddy Holly Story on vinyl, the 1959 original first pressing, but we buy the first season of Deadwood for less than $25.
The legendary Chicken Burger (1531 Bedford Hwy, 835-6565) is easily spotted with all the customers parked outside the classic '50s diner, and across the street is the Cellar Bar & Grill (1516 Bedford Hwy, 835-1592). Nearby is the popular family joint Sunnyside Restaurant (1552 Bedford Hwy, 835-7204) sharing a building with the Riverside Pub (835-1648).
Ah, Sunnyside Mall (1595 Bedford Hwy). You can't miss the big Freak Lunchbox (405-4052) sign or all the crazy candy and novelties within. Have you been feeling a need for a Sigmund Freud head stress ball? How about stylish self-adhesive moustaches for girls? Look no further.
Deeper in the mall is the original location of Pete's Frootique (835-4997) offering rows and rows of fresh vegetables, cheese and imported foodstuffs. Also in the mall are kitchen masters Cucina Moderna (835-9560), offering Saturday product demos (juicers!) and selling Peugeot mills---yes, the same people that make the European cars---tax free. (By mills we mean salt and pepper and chili mills, with coffee and nutmeg as well.) If you can't make it to Bedford, the Peugeot promotion is popping in the peninsular store, too.
Across the street at Rocky Lake Drive is the Bedford Place Mall (1658 Bedford Hwy), home of another '50s-style resto, the True North Diner (832-1950), where the jukebox, checkerboard floors and red vinyl booths scream cool vintage, as do the juicy burgers---made from locally raised beef and really, really good.
And we mean it. They're really, really good.