Chip off the old block

TC Demaresq browses for business news.

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Bill True realized this year how much of a gamble running a seasonal chip stand can be. The owner of Bill’s Family Chip Stand, which occupied a spot by the Halifax Public Library on Spring Garden Road for more than 15 years, moved to a new location this summer as a result of a blind-tendering process that did not go his way. “Last January, the tender for my space was advertised in the newspaper,” he says. “I didn’t know who else was bidding or how much, or how many people were bidding. I proceeded to put in a more than reasonable bid for the location.” True had no reason to suspect anyone else was eyeing the lot. He had operated in that space, alongside his brother’s Bud the Spud chip stand, since 1985. As it turned out, Dean Porter, owner of Monster Pizza in Fall River, put in a higher bid.

The arrival of the Monster Fries stand—which also serves hot dogs, sausages, onion rings and fish—has created some changes for the area. Bud the Spud welcomes the variety Porter brings, saying it helps spread customers to both lots and lightens the load for Bud the Spud. But Bud can’t deny he misses having his brother Bill around. “For the longest period of time, the two of us had been operating here,” says Bud. “We shared weekends, I got to go home early some days. And now this has happened just when we’re trying to slow down.”

As for Bill True, his new lot is now located on the corner of Tower and Spring Garden. While True says his weekend business has regained its strength, he estimates he’s now doing only 25 percent of the overall business he used to do by the library. “I have some customers who remain very loyal, but the majority of them just don’t have the time to come down during their lunch breaks,” says True. “ can be built up to a good spot, but it’s going to take some time.”

Lord of the rings

Those looking to surprise mummy and daddy at Christmas might want to check out Shameless Body Jewels at 6065 Stairs. Shameless is the first store in Halifax to specialize exclusively in the retail of body jewellery, according to owner Laura Tilson. Tilson has been selling body jewellery wholesale to stores for 10 years, but recently decided to open her own store. “I’m very knowledgeable when it comes to body jewellery and what it’s like to be pierced,” she says. “My store offers organics, expanders, belly rings, ear-piercing jewellery—a very wide range.” Tilson says her store’s merchandise is targeted at the music scene as well as students, adding, “I’m offering much lower prices to the retail public to make body jewellery affordable.”

If you build it, they will come

If you’re a former creative arts student, it’s probably happened to you: you’re knee-deep in your school’s creative community, making the most of your school’s free space and environment, but suddenly graduation rears its ugly head and that entire world is snatched away from you. Queen Street Studios, a new, creative, co-op resource center opening at 50 Queen in Dartmouth in mid-October, hopes to change that. “There’s a shift to wanting HRM to be more culturally oriented,” says Amy Hawke, director of communications and member relations for the studios. “In our surveying of students, we found a lot of the angst out there is that there is no established physical location in the area where creative people can come together.” QSS will offer memberships for student artists, already-established creatives and even those who merely like to dabble or want to start networking within the community. The studio will also manage a database of work opportunities. “The renovations are now complete,” says Hawke. “Our studio will have a loft area where studio spaces are located, a downstairs area with an open concept and great natural light, a coffee shop area, a resource library and a conference space with all the necessary equipment for video and tele-conferencing.” For more information, check out www.qsstudios.ca

Take-and-bake

Nick and Willy’s Pizza opened its doors (and its ovens) last week at 6169 Quinpool. It’s the first Nick and Willy’s outlet to open east of Calgary. Sean Carson, owner of the Quinpool location, bought the franchise rights for Atlantic Canada. “Everybody eats pizza,” says Carson. “In North America it’s a $40-billion business. So all we’re trying to do is offer something a little bit different than the competition.” Where Nick and Willy’s differs from the competition is in its selection of “take-and-bake” pizzas. The idea is to keep the pizza as fresh as possible. The store prepares the pizza and the customer takes the pizza home, where, after approximately 12 minutes in the oven, it is ready and waiting to be eaten. It’s a growing trend in the United States that has many advantages, says Carson. “How many times have you ordered pizza then had to reheat it because it got cold, because the delivery guy took forever? This kind of service eliminates the problems that come with delivery and ensures the freshest, hottest-possible pizza.” Those who enjoy a hot slice need not worry: Nick and Willy’s serves hot pizza on-site, too.

Kinh-D’oh!

A couple of weeks ago, Shop Talk gave the impression that Kinh-Do Vietnamese restaurant at 1284 Barrington had served its final meal. Not so! Owner Du Nguyen called to let us know that while the business is indeed up for sale, Kinh-Do will remain open in the interim.

What’s your business doing in the interim? Email: shoptalk@thecoast.ca

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