Local business and consumer news. Openings, closings, deals, sales, what to buy and where to buy it, we round it all up and give you an insider's shopper's special on small business in Halifax. Contact shoptalk@thecoast.ca to send a tip.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

H&M, The Mud room, Alladian Palace Restaurant, Pro Skateboards & Snowboards and Pete's Frootique

Posted By on Thu, Nov 29, 2007 at 3:40 PM

Inquiring fashion-conscious minds want to know: Will a branch of Swedish clothing chain H&M be opening in the Mic Mac Mall? "We're in negotiations with them, but nothing's signed or confirmed at this point," shares mall general manger Terry Harvie...Say it ain't so! After nearly fours years on Barrington, The Mud Room will serve its last cup of joe on Friday. A new mystery business will take over the space in January. Watch for more info soon...Aladdin Palace Restaurant (5688 Spring Garden) might already be packing it in. There's no answer at the restaurant. Stay tuned...Pro Skateboards & Snowboards will open a second location on Quinpool on Saturday, in the old Noble BMX storefront (conveniently near the skate park)...The Pete's Frootique in Bedford is set for a major renovation. Expect much easier navigation. (Fret not about the scant details, grocery-store-renovation enthusiasts. Read more here next week, along with tons of news about the ever-expanding Supplement King franchise.)

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Le Bon Cafe opening

Posted By on Thu, Nov 29, 2007 at 3:40 PM

Over the last couple months, Bonne Cuisine, the catering company that makes its home in the lower courtyard of Spring Garden Place, has been quietly expanding. Today marks the grand opening of both Le Bon Cafe and the Magpie Bakery, two small complementary businesses that Bonne Cuisine owner Margaret Carson opened beside Bonne near the end of September. "Having an empty space, or having a tenant come and go, is not good," she points out, about the space next door. "And this mall needed a good coffee operation." Le Bon Cafe, a European-style coffee joint, serves good quality, fair-trade organic coffee, and an array of homemade baked goods, prepared onsite. "Most coffee shops do not focus on the food. I am focusing on providing beautiful coffee cakes, and beautiful muffins and scones." Even the biscotti's homemade—and you can enjoy some while parking your caboose in one of the cafe's armchairs, and relaxing in an ambiance of "comfort and warmth." The small Magpie Bakery, Carson's other new endeavor, offers homemade breads (walnut-onion, focaccia, olive...) and fresh-fruit pies that are "chockfull of fruit." Swing by Spring Garden Place for the grand opening, between 2:30pm and 5pm, or give Bonne Cuisine a ring at 425-6797.

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Metro's Visually Creative Artists Society opening

Posted By on Thu, Nov 29, 2007 at 3:39 PM

The One World Cafe might be gone, but all is not quiet at the cafe's former home (2412 Agricola). The space that was once our dearly departed cafe is now the headquarters of Metro's Visually Creative Artists Society, a collective devoted to helping those interested in photography and the film industry pick up professional skills without breaking the bank. "Not everyone can afford to go to a CompuCollege or a community college, they really cannot," says Andrew Tench, the society's director of communications. Pros are brought in to help artists hone their skills in all areas of film production—from camera wielding and wrangling, to sound production and make-up application. Tench helped form MVCAS two years ago, with the future in mind. He and his business associates are currently securing funding for a project aimed at helping Nova Scotia's film industry grow and become more culturally diverse. The project, if successful, will result in the construction of huge, locally based (and multi-culturally staffed) film studios. "And that's what the Creative Artists Society came up out of," says Tench. "A necessity to train Nova Scotians for larger projects later on." While MVCAS won't be serving you coffee or a delicious One World-style lunch anytime soon, the society is interested in providing artists of all kinds with a place to work—which means its space can be booked by the hour by photographers who need somewhere to shoot, actors wanting a quiet place to run lines, and bands looking for somewhere to rehearse and/or perform. Shows at the One World space? Maybe you can go home again.Contact the society at visual@navnet.net, or call 830-2993.

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Mollyz moving

Posted By on Thu, Nov 29, 2007 at 3:38 PM

Gottingen Street might be losing another mainstay. Upscale diner Mollyz and upstairs bar Menz (both at 2104 Gottingen) will both be leaving their current digs sometime in January, and re-locating. Where are they headed? "We're looking at a couple of different locations. We haven't nailed anything down as of yet," says Doug Melanson, co-owner of both. But don't expect the popular businesses to stray too far. "We want to stay in the north end," says Melanson, who found out in October that his holdings were being evicted from their current home. The space has been sold to local business mover-and-shaker Mickey MacDonald, who also owns nearby Palooka's Gym. Mollyz currently spans two buildings—MacDonald plans to tear down one building to make way for a parking lot, and says he might start a coffee shop for the area's youth in the other; a place for kids to gather and learn some business skills. Melanson and co-owner David Landry are optimistic about the forced relocation. "We view it as an opportunity to grow the businesses and to bring them to the next level," says Melanson, who hopes to finalize the location of the new space and start construction at some point in December. Contact Mollyz at 405-3376, and Menz at 446-6969.

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The end of their rope

Tightrope, a groundbreaking leather and denim club, comes to an end after 17 years of service.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 29, 2007 at 4:00 AM

What if you held an S&M party and no one came?

That's exactly what happened to Tightrope, Halifax's first leather and denim gay brotherhood society (founded in 1990). Last month they shelled out $100 for four rooms at Seadogs to use after a general meeting to plan their 2008 events. It would end up being the last event held by the society.

"I was thinking we'd probably have a fisting scene going on or something more elaborate. We could go back to a private room, go sit in the sauna, go have a shower, run around naked or go into another room and get handcuffed to a cage, whatever," says DeGeer, Tightrope's treasurer. "We've had meetings and events before where only a few members show up so that's nothing unusual...but the fact of the matter is no one showed up."

Tightrope's members voted itself out of existence two weeks ago. DeGeer put forward the motion to disband with the memory of October's event fresh in his mind. But that wasn't the only reason—"it was one thing after another."

Not a sex club, Tightrope explored gay male sexuality. For DeGeer, a bisexual and always a partier, the society helped him embrace his love of leather and wild times.

In its heyday, the society touted 24 dues-paying members. They would go to after hours bars decked in leather and denim and handcuff each other to pipes and pillars. Hot and sweaty, they would flog each other and dance.

But membership had been dwindling for the past decade. They weren't recruiting new members and their long-time members were getting older and moving away, and they were tied down to jobs or family. The society's president was stepping down and they didn't have the membership to reorganize themselves.

"I'm an instant gratification type of guy. I don't like waiting around," says DeGeer. "I didn't want to see Tightrope die a slow death and have just a few members pound their brains out trying to get things going."

The motion to disband passed nine to one. They're donating the remainder of their funds to charity and planning to give their leather banner and brotherhood award plaque to a local bar, bringing an end to almost 20 years of safe, sane and consensual decadence.

Tightrope began as Leather and Lace back when DeGeer was living the straight life with a wife and kids. That gay and lesbian leather group folded quickly. But a few members went on to create Tightrope.

"Being a part of the brotherhood, you felt like you belonged and you had somewhere to go—especially if you want to involve yourself in the S&M scene. Where the hell else can you go to interact with other people who are aware, involved or don't mind talking about these things?"

Beyond debauchery, the society would hold slave auctions and other events to fundraise for local charities. But when membership started to decline, bar owners said they couldn't hold their charity events if members wouldn't show up.

One tune in DeGeer's head the past few weeks has been "Video Killed the Radio Star."

"Well, internet killed the leather scene." says DeGeer.

Men's leather societies across North America have been hit hard by the internet. No longer do you need a group of friends to know what hot wax to use and which whips feel good but don't rip up your back.

Spearhead Toronto, Canada's oldest leather/denim brotherhood, has almost 100 members and has raised thousands of dollars for charities. They were shocked to hear of Tightrope's demise. But Rob Jeyes, Spearhead's vice-president, knows how hard you have to work to keep up membership.

"Without promotion we lose base with the people out there," says Jeyes.

There are a few other loose-knit leather affiliations in the city, like MAC Leather, but nothing as organized or charitable as Tightrope. Also, neither of these groups are men only, leaving a gap for Halifax's leathermen.

"Everyone wanted to keep it alive. They loved Tightrope. But they're all mature men. They're not stupid," says DeGeer. "Everyone was being a man—facing reality and facing the facts."

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Cargo & James Tea, ViewPoint Gallery, re clothing, Mia's Pizza & Milano's

Posted By on Thu, Nov 22, 2007 at 8:27 AM

A new sign has appeared in a ground-level storefront in the new apartment complex at 1239 Barrington, to announce the yet-to-be-determined opening of a branch of tea chain Cargo & James Tea. The sign also makes a sound point: "Halifax, it's definitely time for tea!" Well played, Cargo & James...Across the street, the former home of Pinky's and Allie's Costume Magic (1272 Barrington), bears its own sign, announcing that the ViewPoint Gallery will be opening there in January...Some unfortunate news for secondhand clothes enthusiasts: It looks like re clothing (1312 Queen) is no more...The answering machine for Mia's Pizza (6041 North) tells us that the restaurant is now closed, being renovated, and will soon re-open as Hot Stuff Pizza (guesstimated opening date: November 26)...Yum: Milano's Ristorante (6430 Chebucto) is now serving up a brunch from 10am to 2:30pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Ah, "brunch"—you even sound fun.

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Best Buy and Danish home store JYSK

Posted By on Thu, Nov 22, 2007 at 8:25 AM

Dartmouth Crossing update: electronics emporium Best Buy and Danish home- supply heaven JYSK (No, it's not Ikea. But it is Ikea-ish!) have both officially opened their Dartmouth Crossing locations. Best Buy opened up this past weekend, and JYSK rolled out the red carpet at the beginning of November. Shop it up, big-box lovers!

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Music World Bankruptcy

Posted By on Thu, Nov 22, 2007 at 8:24 AM

Canada-owned chain Music World has filed for bankruptcy protection, and its 72 stores are set to liquidate their wares and close their doors by early next year. Managers at all three of the HRM's Music World locations-—in the Halifax Shopping Centre, in the Mic Mac Mall and at the Sunnyside Mall in Bedford—confirm their branches will be closing, but no one's sure of the exact dates.

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Mediterraneo Restaurant Closure

Posted By on Thu, Nov 22, 2007 at 8:22 AM

It's sad and official: The closing of the Mediterraneo Restaurant (formerly of 1571 Barrington) is no passing phase. It's closed for good. (That means no more Coast-award-winning turkey sandwiches, and no more shawarmas.) After 11 years of running the restaurant, owner Edward Daniel decided it was time to close up shop. "People weren't coming in like they used to...it was just the right financial decision for me to close her up," he says. Daniel and his brother took the shop over after its original owner passed away. In total, the Med was open for about 20 years. Daniel thanks his customers (the "funnest part of the business") for all their support. "I hope I haven't broken too many hearts...or made anyone go hungry," he adds.

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Aliant Store Opening

Posted By on Thu, Nov 22, 2007 at 8:20 AM

Having trouble communicating? Head to Spring Garden—the new Aliant Store is officially open (at 5475 Spring Garden, in the former home of Timothy's World Coffee), and ready to hook you up with cellphones, high-speed internet and PC products. The store opened last Thursday, and is planning a grand opening in early December. "We're so thrilled to be on Spring Garden Road," says DownEast Communications prez and COO Kevin Hamm. "We try to bring our product to where the people are." The store's set up to be "warm, engaging, friendly and interactive" for customers, which is certainly better than the store being mean and not letting us touch stuff. But what else does Aliant have to offer? "We will be experimenting somewhat in that store," says Hamm. "Quite frankly, it could become a living lab for us...it's certainly one of the stores we would go in and try new products in." Sold! New things are the best things! Give DownEast a call at 443-1110.

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Satisfaction Feast Move

Posted By on Thu, Nov 22, 2007 at 8:19 AM

After 26 years of serving up vegetarian-friendly eats at 1581 Grafton, Satisfaction Feast has packed up shop and headed north. The restaurant's been open at its new home, 3559 Robie (the former home of Alvin's Pizza, behind the Cousin's Restaurant parking lot) for about three weeks. Owner Sarita Earp found out a few years back the restaurant would have to move eventually, when a new landlord (with other, yet-to-be-announced plans for the building) purchased the Grafton space. "The writing was on the wall," says Earp. She's been keeping her eye out for a new home for the shop since then, and when she found the "open and spacious" Robie location, she knew her search was over. "I felt like that was the right one for us. I felt like it was a place that had heart," she says. The new space, which renovators have completely overhauled, is done up in happy-sounding colours like "touch of nectar" and "ginger peach," and now has a semi-open kitchen. "You walk in...and you can see the kitchen...you can talk to the cook if you want," says Earp. Coffee, tea and water are also now set up in a "semi-self-serve" area: "If it's busy, we want to be able to accommodate people," Earp says. The new Satisfaction Feast is offering catering and is also available for bookings. Another big change has also come with the move: The restaurant's now open from Tuesday to Friday 7:30am to 3:30pm, and on Saturday and Sunday from 8:30am to 4:30pm, which means the they've also cooked up a fancy new breakfast menu (complete with both gluten-free and vegan pancakes). So now, the early bird can get the worm,andsoy bacon. Check out satisfaction-feast.com for more.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Closed Krisp

Sending out a "big thank you to everyone who supported the store."

Posted By on Thu, Nov 15, 2007 at 9:34 AM

About a year after it first opened its doors at 5189 Sackville, high-end street wear and customized sneaker boutique (and NSCADU-graduate showcase) Krisp Clothing is closing up shop. "It wasn't sustainable," says Michael-Andreas Kuttner, Krisp's CEO, of the shop. "At some point, you've got to just realize that it's not going to happen." The shop started a massive closing-out sale last Friday; discounts range from 15 to 55 percent off the store's regular prices. Draws to win "mystery boxes" of Krisp merch will also be taking place. The shop will close sometime in mid- to late-December, or when its inventory runs out. Kuttner sends out a "big thank you to everyone who supported the store."

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Act naturally

Hoping to harness your inner Aretha?

Posted By on Thu, Nov 15, 2007 at 9:32 AM

Hoping to harness your inner Aretha? Head to new shop Bradshaw Pure Esthetics, now open for business on the second floor of 1539 Birmingham (in the same building that houses the Love, Me Boutique.) There, they'll make you feel like a natural (man or) woman. After all, esthetician and shop-owner Diana Bradshaw uses only certified organic products for all her treatments. "I guess I just really like the natural approach, where...there's no preservatives added." Bradshaw's trying to go green in other aspects of her business as well—from the environmentally friendly cleaning products she uses, to the organic teas and coffee she serves. "I'm trying to get everything more natural and better for the environment," says Bradshaw. The shop's been open for about a month, and offers manicures, pedicures, skin care treatments, facials, and more. For the last two weeks, veteran masseuse Jordan DeJong (formerly of the Summit Day Spa) has been booking massage appointments at the shop, too. Right now, DeJong and Bradshaw are the shop's only staff, which means customers can expect consistent, personalized treatment. "You know who you're getting and what," points out Bradshaw. Bonus: the shop's offering a 15 percent discount on all services until the end of November, and customers receive a complimentary hand paraffin dip with their first appointment. And you know what they say about complimentary hand paraffin dips—they're free! Call the shop at 404-4009.

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Getting a reaction

Reaction Hair Studio is ready to make you feel pretty.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 15, 2007 at 9:30 AM

Meanwhile, up on the second level of the Barrington Place Shops, (in another former home of Mr. Romance), new salon Reaction Hair Studio is ready to make you feel pretty. The salon, which opened two weeks ago, is co-owned by Ray Kerr (husband of Margaret Ann—see above), and hairstylist Debra Hallett. Hallett's been doing Kerr's hair for years. "She's a fantastic hairstylist," he promises. So fantastic, in fact, that Kerr wanted to help Hallett start her own business. Kerr and Hallett named the salon "Reaction" to express the idea of "moving forward" and "reacting to the marketplace," says Kerr. To that end, Reaction's staff plan to continually research new techniques in hair design and colouring, and adapt their styling accordingly. Or, as Hallett put it in the salon's press release, stylists will "help in creating new hair ideas, without disregarding the classics." Watch for products from Redken, Joico, and American Crew, and TIGI's "funky" Bed Head line. Give Reaction a call at 406-9400.)

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Avenue anew

Heads up, fans of the 7th Avenue Boutique.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 15, 2007 at 9:28 AM

Heads up, fans of the 7th Avenue Boutique. Tomorrow's the last day you'll be able to access the shop at its current location (the corner of Granville and Duke). But stay calm: The shop re-opens at an ever-so-convenient new location, amid the Barrington Place Shops, November 20. (The boutique's new digs, beside Hatley Clothing, used to house love emporium Mr. Romance.) 7th Avenue, which specializes in reasonably priced "new and nearly new" fashions (including in-season duds sold back to the shop through consignment, as well as brand-new overstocked and discontinued lines), first opened eight years ago on Hollis Street, and relocated to Granville in 2004. Shop owner Margaret Ann Kerr is hoping the boutique's new location will make the shop easier for customers to access—and notice. The windows at the Granville location were tinted, and set back from the street. "It was very easy to just kind of walk by the shop and not see it at all," she says. Plus, there's now a parking lot right next to the shop, which means that consignors looking to sell their (stylish, in-season) wardrobe back to the shop won't have far to lug their garment bags. Name brands available at the boutique include Anne Taylor, Ralph Lauren and more: "There's probably over 600 lines at any one time in that store," says Kerr. "Women can shop there, and they can find some great buys...but yet, they can still look totally in style." Check out the shop at 7thavenue.ca.

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