Spring Garden guided tour | Shoptalk | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Spring Garden guided tour

Helping you find the local gems on the busy strip.

It’s always a beautiful day in this neighbourhood, a tightly knit cluster of big name stores, indie bookshops, vintage boutiques and shoes, shoes, glorious shoes. Spring Garden Road and its surrounding streets are a prime example of what downtown shopping can, and should be.

Word, nerds
This district of downtown is where some of the hard-copy heroes are still thriving. The legendary Bookmark (5686 Spring Garden, 423-0419) has been keeping it indie on Spring Garden since ’89, with its floor-to-ceiling shelves stacked high with renowned authors and local wordsmiths. Just down and around the corner Duly Noted (1459 Brenton Street, 446-5605) has letter-writers salivating ink over its stationery, greeting cards, fancy pens, locally made handbound notebooks and pretty paper galore. Atlantic News (5560 Morris Street, 429-5468) has our back, and the backs of many print media, boasting all the big-ass, glossy mags your heart desires and access to thousands of newspapers from around the globe that they’ll print right before your four eyes. It’s been peddling papers for 40 years, and here’s hoping for 40 more. Another veteran bookworm is the 35-years-young Woozles (1533 Birmingham Street, 423-7626), the bright yellow store for bright young minds.

Kicks start
Shoes rule this ’hood, too. A hop, skip and an Air Jordan away from Spring Garden is Soled Out Sneaker Boutique (1587 Dresden Row, 444-8555), home of the sneaker wall (new slogan, dudes?). Here are three things you need to know: these sneaks are serious, like, focal-point-of-outfit serious; Soled Out also has some sweet-looking, easy on the pocketbook vintage duds and this shop is knocking on its lucky seventh anniversary! Congrats! Another nearby boutique deserving of your dropped jaw is Fresh Goods (1491 South Park Street, 423-1938), where the sneakers steal the show, but the clothing and accessories are worthy of Best Supporting Role. The less-casual may want to pop into Park Lane Mall (5657 Spring Garden Road) where Mahone Bay Trading Company, John David and Comfort Zone have pumps, boots and the whole gamut. And while you’re at it, add Winsbys (5504 Spring Garden Road, 423-7324)–with its Clarks, Uggs, Fryes and Rockports–and the Trillium’s Preamble Footwear (1457 South Park Street, 405-3833–for brands like Camper, Birkenstock and Born–to the shopping list.
And here’s some business news to get pumped about, the fresh-faced Mills (5486 Spring Garden Road, 429-6111) is adding ladies’ footwear funhouse Kick Ass Shoes (5475 Spring Garden Road, 444-7527) to the mix. “Certainly Sonia [Felix] did a great job building the brand,” says one-fourth of Mills’ ownership Lisa Gallivan of KAS, which opened downtown in 2004. “Acquiring it will take Mills to the next level, offering a range of price points and brands. It made total sense for us. It will compliment our shoe department upstairs.” The nearly century-old Mills, which recently re-opened in two spaces at the Spring Garden Place mall, will have KAS’ current stock–all those Cole Haans, Steve Maddens, Kate Spades and other beauties–in store by August 1. And with Mills’ wide selection of clothing, accessories and lingerie, talk about one-stop shopping!

Clothes call
Spring Garden Road’s got mad style, with an array enviable options to fill your closet with. The colourful little strip of Queen Street, better known as Vintage Row, is where to begin any retail therapy. The thrill is in the hunt here, where shops like Elsie’s (1530 Queen Street, 425-2599), MAKENEW (1526 Queen Street), The Clothes Horse (1530 Queen Street, 483-7067) and Second Storey (1526 Queen Street) are packed with recycled fashions, locally made jewellery and other wonderful finds. Just up the row is staple dress shop Sweet Pea (1542 Queen Street, 423-0975), offering breezy options for occasions or everyday shopping trips. In Sweet Pea’s backyard is its sister store, Twisted Muse (1539 Birmingham Street, 446-3662), which moved from Spring Garden to Birmingham in the winter. It’s another hot spot for shoes, accessories and women’s clothing you wish you owned. And if you’re lucky the store-puppy Wesley will be there, too.
Up the road at Splurge (1480 Brenton Street, 420-9530) is a shop glimmering with accessories for any outfit, and some clothing, too. While here, check out NSCAD student Kate Wilton’s ski-bum-inspired line Behaviour Apparel (and hey, it’s at Fresh Goods, too). The former international ski racer took inspiration from her peers at the hill to create this streetwear that features hand-dyed denim, t-shirts printed with her awesome gorilla logo and studded snapback baseball caps, to name a few. “I’m really interested in subconscious ways of getting people to think creatively,” says Wilton. We look forward to seeing more of her wearable art. Another fun stop on the boutique circuit is Better Than Her, Courtney Jones’ wilderness-inspired shop of jewellery and pieces you won’t see elsewhere. For your solid colours, high-waisted jeans, swimwear and bodysuits see the always trendy, always sweatshop-free, unisex American Apparel (1482 Queen Street,422-5038). Pastels have never looked so good.

Go to your happy place
When I have my rainforest sounds YouTube playlist cranked to the max, it makes me think about my other go-to relaxers. Like a therapeutic massage that’ll get all those kinks out. Massage Addict (1472 Martello Street, 407-4040) makes it pretty easy by minimizing money-related tension with a $39 introductory massage offer. Speaking of addictions, Sweet Jane’s (5431 Doyle Street, 425-0168) has your sugar coma beyond covered, with bulk candy, Jelly Belly beans, old school chocolate bars, cupcakes and hilariously clever doodads and accessories. It’s easy to get lost, and hungry, in here. The next necessity in the comfort zone is house pants, the more elasticized the better. And Lululemon’s (5486 Spring Garden Road, 422-6641) middle name is stretchy. Lulu S. Lemon.
These clothes were made for sweating, not snoozing, but how about meditating? That’s what you’re doing, right? A Spring Garden newbie, as of Monday, is Sleep Country (5415 Spring Garden Road, 332-0277)–the perfect spot to perfect your meditation. Though there is a handful of other Sleep Country locations due around the HRM, this storefront in TD’s old spot is the first. “The downtown of Halifax is very vibrant,” says a founder of the nearly 20-year-old Canadian biz, Christine Magee. “For our flagship store, it’s important to be present downtown.” Really, who doesn’t like a good bed? And what about the accessories to go with it? Thornbloom’s (1459 South Park Street, 425-8005) nearby location has the rest of your bedroom (and home, for that matter) covered, well-lit and accented. Cue the crashing waves playlist, annnndd scene.

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