Go local on Spring Garden Road | Shoptalk | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Go local on Spring Garden Road

A shopper's guide to the most popular shopping district in Atlantic Canada, including side-streets bristling with boutiques.

Strolling down the most popular shopping district in Atlantic Canada, from Robie down to Brunswick---including side-streets bristling with boutiques---the sheer number of vital businesses provides an embarrassment of riches for Shoptalk. More than anywhere else in our fine city, we slam up against the limitation of space on this page. A street that provides a different experience every time you’re there, what follows is the result of a single browse through the multifaceted retail district, the pulse of the city and getting stronger all the time. ---Carsten Knox

Student Fixes

The students are well ensconced in papers, assignments and bedhead, a fact the fine people atKara’s Urban Day Spa (5980 Spring Garden Road, 422-3900) are well aware of. To attract the academics who also want to look good, they’re offering a deal for anyone packing a student card: Half-price brow waxing with any hair service and 10 percent off hair and aesthetics services. Beyond that, they’re promoting Redken styling products at the moment: You buy one and you get one free. (And if you happen to be in Dartmouth, check out Kara’s other locations, 940 Cole Harbour Road and 650 Portland Street.)

Speaking of students, Jean’s Chinese (5972 Spring Garden Road, 444-7776) now has Debit and DalCard (the Dalhousie ID Card which can also be used for goods and services off campus) on delivery. Isn’t it time for some sweet and sour chicken right now?

Coffee and Ice Cream

Just Us! (5896 Spring Garden Road, 423-0856) is looking to expand. They’ve secured space in the building right behind their location at the corner of Spring Garden and Carleton, which, if everything goes well, will include room for community events, 25 more seats and even film screenings. (The first public hearing about the proposed expansion takes place at St. Mary’s Boat Club on Thursday, October 8 at 7pm.)

A short pathway into the Public Gardens is interrupted only by a fountain, and you’re walking up steps to the Canteen, the seasonal location of Uncommon Grounds and Sugah!, the coffee shop/ice cream parlour. It’s scheduled to shut down on November 11 when the Gardens close for the season, but a contagious rumour shared by the barista on duty has it that the city is going to attempt a trial winter opening of the Gardens for a couple of weeks around Christmas. “We’ll probably reopen if that happens,” he said. The Canteen has high wooden ceilings and windows. Doesn’t look particularly winterized. “We have heaters,” reports the barista.

Find print's charming

Through the fall, typically the busy time for the publishing industry, the Book Mark (5686 Spring Garden Road, 423-0419) is hosting a series of readings and literary events (starting with Rex Murphy, launching his book Canada and Other Matters of Opinion on October 6, 7:30pm at the Marion McCain Building at Dal, 6135 University Avenue.) Drop in for more details, and while you’re there, buy three Penguin classics (you know the titles, from fellows whose names include Defoe, Dumas and Dickens) and receive one for free, along with a Penguin cloth bag (while quantities last). You may want to stop by next door at the Daily Grind (5686 Spring Garden Road, 429-6397) for a maple spice latte ($3.50) and a fresh magazine while you’re at it.

When nature malls

A new addition to Park Lane Mall (5657 Spring Garden Road, 420-0660) is Geox (423-2369), the Italian footwear company that right now has its winter wear in, including shoes, boots, jackets and toques. Deeper into Park Lane you’ll find environmental store P’Lovers (422-6060), where the staff is very excited about a brand new line of organic, made-in-Halifax, organic kids clothing, for ages 2-8. Ask for Three Red Mushrooms, it arrives in November. In right now is the fall line from local designer Laura Chenoweth who sources her fabrics in India.

Across the street in Spring Garden Place (5640 Spring Garden Road, 420-0675) things are busy. Pink Mascara (407-7465), now open a few months, is seeing stock fly off shelves. Especially popular right now are David Jones handbags and Pashmina scarves, along with their colourful selection of jewellery. Upstairs, a new restaurant is going in, aiming to be open by the end of October: Gullabulls will be a mid-range casual dining establishment, looking over Spring Garden. Owned by Matthew Watkins, Mark Richardson and Brad Hartlin---a partner in Bubba Ray's nearby---it’ll offer burgers, steaks, pasta and appies, everything made fresh and in-house. They’ll have a private area for functions and parties, a dining room ideal for dates and a separate lounge with TVs, to watch sports, elections, what have you. Watch this space for further updates when they get close to opening.

Clothing options

Having passed their third anniversary in August, Soled Out Sneakers (1512 Dresden Row, 422-7310) is a very different place than when it started. “We tripled our stock over the summer,” says co-owner Alex Strum. He reports they have 180 different styles of shoes, with Onitska Tigers by Asics probably the most popular right now, along with the ever awesome Nike and Jordan shoes.

Up at Love, Me Boutique (1539 Birmingham Street, 444-3668), right now you’ll find lovely, little still-life paintings by Lynn Rotin and larger work by Ambera Wellmann, of moody, atmospheric cloudscapes, fitting in nicely with the store’s collection of locally made fashion, art, gifts and music, including ever popular glassware from Kyla Francis, including her series of illustrated glasses featuring Halifax streetscapes and others with stylish men and women looking out at you as you sip your beverage.

Irises Flowers (1534 Queen Street, 424-8344) is located just beside that little stretch of vintage and fashion joy on Queen Street above Spring Garden, which includes Encore (1528 Queen Street, 429-8788), Elsie’s (1530 Queen Street, 425-2599), The Clotheshorse (1530 Queen Street, 483-7067) and Put Me On (1532 Queen Street, 492-2572). Irises is currently “messin’ with the recession” by offering sunflowers for $7.99 per bunch of five.

Art of glass

At Love, Me Boutique (1539 Birmingham Street, 444-3668), right now you’ll find lovely, little still-life paintings by Lynn Rotin and larger work by Ambera Wellmann, of atmospheric cloudscapes, fitting in nicely with the store’s collection of locally made fashion, art, gifts and music that includes ever popular glassware from Kyla Francis---her series of illustrated glasses features Halifax streetscapes and others with stylish men and women looking out at you as you sip your beverage.

Everybody into pool

They’ve been in their new location for only a little over a year, but they sure look comfortable there. We’re talking about Locas Bar & Billiards (5430 Doyle Street, 423-2522), a business that operated on Salter Street for 59 years before moving over to Doyle. Locas is a club that requires a yearly membership to be part of: $24 (but only $12 for students, seniors or military and $5 a visit for someone in from out of town). If you were familiar with the Salter location, you’ll still find the nice selection of pool tables here, along with a widescreen TV, a foosball table and darts. There’s a Wednesday night co-ed pool league for you to join, and if you happen to be under-age (or want to show a good time to someone who is) the club is all-ages until 8pm. “I’ve had a lot of parents come in and they think it’s great,” says manager Cathy Hiltz.

Mills (5488 Spring Garden Road, 429-6111), formerly Mills Brothers, stalwart local department store, is looking to lease out its second floor, which is currently closed until they find retail business tenants. If you’re interested, call Cushman & Wakefield Atlantic at 425-1444.

On Dresden Row near Clyde is a new spa, The Cas Spa (say it quickly and you’ll get the gist, 1448 Dresden Row, 422-7888) with services including hair design with Redken products, laser treatments, registered massage therapy, electrology, with services expanding with the ongoing renovations, which will include Botox treatments. Give them a call for their hours and more detail on what’s available now.

And after Thanksgiving, Duly Noted Stationary (6224 Quinpool Road, 446-5605) will open a new location at 1459 Brenton Street, in what turned out to be the temporary former home of Frog Hollow Books. Both the Quinpool and the Brenton locations will be open until February, when the Quinpool store is likely to close.

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