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.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Company House

Posted on Mon, Dec 22, 2008 at 11:53 PM

Halifax is a music city. Some say it's the Atlantic Ocean, others believe it's the endless winters, the source or reason doesn't matter to Mary Ann Daye. She just hopes to foster it with The Company House (2202 Gottigen).

"My official deadline is to be open for the In the Dead of Winter Festival (January 27-31)," says Daye. "Music is first for me, as there is a lack of good spaces for live acoustic, singer-songwriter to perform. I know a lot of musicians and they are just crying out for somewhere to play. I want to make that happen."

Construction is well underway at The Company House, formerly home of The Galleria, as many local artists, including: Jenn Grant, Don Brownrigg, Tanya Davis, Daniel Ledwell and Kev Corbett have all got their hands dirty.

As you enter the building the bar is to the right of the spacious venue, a corner stage is elevated to the left, but it's the deep red painted walls that should tug at heartstrings. The deep shade is reminiscent of the walls of the legendary Khyber Club (1558 Barrington), formerly operated by Daye's partner and In the Dead of Winter founder Heather Gibson, which was abruptly forced to close in February 2006.

"There has been an amazing outpouring of support from the community that wants to be a part of this," she says. "Everything that's happening in this area, Gottigen is going to be what it once was – the main drag in Halifax."

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One stop wood shop

Posted on Wed, Dec 17, 2008 at 11:19 AM

Custom furniture craftsman Jason Cullen has been working out in Prospect Bay and is finally bringing his sustainable hardwood creations into town, The One Stop Wood Shop (6040 Almon) opens January 1. “We will be sharing a space with Renovators Resource,” says Jason Cullen. “The wood shop will be in the back and products will be displayed out front. I currently have small pieces ready for Christmas on display now.”

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Glenndan

Posted on Wed, Dec 17, 2008 at 11:18 AM

Glenndan Technical Services (7158 Chebucto) recently moved directly behind the Armview Restaurant (7156 Chebucto). The service solutions provider specializes in appliance maintenance, repair, installation and removal, for both commercial and residential.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas seaside

Posted on Mon, Dec 15, 2008 at 1:18 PM

One would imagine owning a Christmas shop year round some folks might tire of decking the halls, rockin' around the tree and hanging with Olive the other reindeer. But Atlantic Canada's oldest and largest year round holiday shop, Christmas By The Sea (1880 Hollis) never loses their festive spirit. The shop celebrates 30 years in business this month. "We have been at the same location all these years," says owner Michael Pierce. "We are a family owned and operated business and we look forward to being part of Maritime Christmases for many years to come."

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

CarShareHFX

Posted on Thu, Dec 11, 2008 at 6:11 PM

CarShareHFX officially launched its environmentally-conscious and practical alternative to vehicle ownership last week. Owners Pam Cooley and Peter Zimmer offer a round-the-clock self-service to a fleet of fuel-efficient cars. Fuel, insurance and bridge tolls are included in the membership fee.

"A typical CarShare driver is someone who is very thoughtful about where they spend their money," says Cooley. "If you are looking at cutting back your spending, it's a no-brainer. You can save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Membership is based on an annual fee and broken down by an hourly rate. As a member, CarShare key holders have access to cars---everything from a compact hatchback Honda Fit to seven-seat micro van Kia Rondo---that are strategically placed at locations throughout Halifax and Dartmouth.

"When you register with our company you have access to this whole fleet," says Cooley. "When you want the car you go online with your membership number and reserve the car at an hourly rate. The car will only open for you, given the new key file technology."

CarShareHFX is the answer for anyone seeking transportation options. According to Cooley, the average Canadian spends $700 on a vehicle a month. CarShareHFX noticeably slashes costs. Household membership fees begin with a one-time set up fee of $250 (and includes the first year of membership), the annual renewal fee $200. It's $50 for every additional driver.

Other membership packages include: workplace and non-government organizations. The daytime weekday hourly rate is $9/hour. Evening, weekend and holidays is $10/hour. After hours (midnight to 6am) is $3/hour. A full day (24-hour period) is $89. For more information check out carsharehfx.caor call 406-7439.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Black Christmas

Posted on Wed, Dec 10, 2008 at 10:36 PM

Lost and Found (2384 Agricola) has a bleaker take on the holiday season. This weekend marks the inaugural Black Christmas, an unholy sound festival, art show and sale. Partially inspired by the cult classic B-rated horror flick Black Christmas, the local art/vintage/kitch shop proposes a new Boxing Day sale, December 12-14.

"It doesn't make sense to me to open between Christmas and New Years just to suck a few extra bucks out all ready tapped out customers," says owner Jayson Melansonm. "In fact it seems kinda rude. This is kinda like Christmas on my turf, sort of an alternative to Garbage Christmas and more about the things we like---good art, great sound artists creating all weekend and a great sale before Christmas for our customers."

The weekend-long unholy occasion begins with an opening reception at Lost and Found. Sojourner Truth, Natalie Howard and Julia Kennedy share their art, drawings, projections and book launch of "Sacred Texts," a compilation by Kennedy, while local bee queens Ghost Bees create a soundtrack. Listen to live music while shopping on Saturday and Sunday, as local acts will be performing in the front window of the shop. There is a $5 donation suggested, with all proceeds going to the Canadian Cancer Society.

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Space between

Posted on Sun, Dec 7, 2008 at 8:43 PM

In a city where there are more bands than musicians, Spaces Between Studios (5440 North) is the perfect place for rehearsing, preproduction and recording. Some Halifax's finest players recorded their debut releases –Tanya Davis, Don Brownrigg, Dammien Alexander, to name a few, in this cozy well-equipped environment.

"I can work with experienced artists and know how to create studio momentum," says owner Donald McKay. "This works for creating betters songs. In another way I feel like a teacher. If a young artist wants to put together their first demo, I can help too."

Price points are broken down by the hour. For rehearsal space it's $13, recorded jams cost $15 and high-end production recording services are $30. The multi-functional studio is in a quiet, secluded environment and aspires to be a community facility. For more info call 442-3650 or visit Spaces Between.

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Handmade holiday market

Posted on Sun, Dec 7, 2008 at 8:34 PM

Catch over 40 vendors at this year's annual Holiday Handmade Market, hosted by the Halifax Crafters, this weekend at the North Street Church (5657 North).

"Halifax Crafters is growing and we're going to max out space in the church," says co-founder Kyla Francis. "There will be lunch for sale –delicious handmade sweet and savoury tarts, a local artist drawing $2 portraits and a gift basket raffle with items from various vendors. Also, the Ink Storm Screenprinting Collective has produced a special series of posters that will be available at this show only."

Some of the truly unique gift ideas include: calorie free felted holiday treats, t-shirts for the hard to shop for teenagers, cards, jewellery all handmade by the skilled hands of your neighbours. Journals and zines for the literary buffs, shot glasses and tumblers for the bachelors, plush arts toys, merit badges for folks who deserve a bit of recognition and more.

"The last few years it's been really wonderful to do all my shopping at the Handmade Market and give all gifts that are either homemade by me or other people," she says. "Gift-giving can get so out of control this time of year and it is great to be able to step back from it alland buy presents that are awesome and unique while supporting local crafters. Many participating crafters are using recycled, reused, and all-natural materials as well."

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sebastian's Bistro closes

Posted on Tue, Dec 2, 2008 at 7:10 PM

Last week Sebastian's Bistro (5518 Spring Garden), formerly home of Deco Restaurant, served the last supper.

The French-inspired cuisine has left an unsavoury taste in Bernard Smith's mouth, manager of Spring Garden area business association.

"It's unfortunate about Sebastian's," he says. "It could have worked. I don't think they really reached their stride. I tried to reach the proprietors and see if we could do anything, certainly they were still on good terms with the landlord. The landlord wasn't owed any rent. They just felt they couldn't carry on."

Sebastian's Bistro was a high-end and artfully decorated restaurant that opened just under a year ago. Smith speculates that some of the trouble keeping the business afloat could be related to the bus stop situated directly outside the restaurant's window and door. Diners felt as touch self-conscious.

"Restaurants are a very tricky business to be in. Look at il Mercato Restorante, they are full every night. What's the difference here?" he says. "Sometimes it's a question of being able to tough it out a bit longer. It's all a combination of price point, service and menu. I don't' claim to be in that business, but it's pretty apparent that you need to get those things right."

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