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.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Halifax Cycle Gallery opens

Posted By on Fri, Apr 30, 2010 at 4:00 AM

The dream of a pair of owners, John Wesley Chisholm and former Idealbikes manager Roger Nelson, Halifax Cycle Gallery (6299 Quinpool Road, 407-4222) is happening on Quinpool. As manager Robyn Badger explains, the endeavour is as much a money-making venture as it is about the spirit of the thing. “John Wesley is very involved in politics and he wants the city to to be more involved in bicycles.” That also means encouraging the populace to invest in smart, stylish commuter bikes, of the sort the shop offers. Expected in store soon is a BUB, the Batavus Utility Bike, a Dutch machine retailing for around $600. The prices go up from there, with all European bikes, including the Italian Abici ($995), English Pashley---a replica Road Racer will cost you a couple of grand---and the Biomega, a shaft-driven chainless bike. The average price is in the mid-$1,000 range, with fully-loaded racks, fenders, bells, internalized gears, Brooks saddles. They even carry the three-wheeled kid-carrier Nihola, which allows for 300 lbs of weight up front and Yakkay helmets from Denmark that look like hats. Check out the helpful website halifaxcycles.com for more information, or just drop by the store, 10am-6pm Monday-Wednesday, 10am-9pm Thursday and Friday, 10am-6pm Saturday and Sunday.
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Free Comic Book Day Madness

Posted By on Fri, Apr 30, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Free Comic Book Day, the industry-wide, international promotion of comics, returns for another year, with plenty of opportunities for deals, as well as the requisite free comics from every major publisher. Quantam Frontier (3087 Robie Street, 446-8233) will have all that going on, as well as fundraising barbeque for Hal-Con (only 182 days left!!!) starting at noon. Also expect lots of people in costume, face-painting and an opportunity for getting information on the Global Gamers convention planned for August. Strange Adventures (5262 Sackville Street, 425-2140) has rented out St. David’s Hall (1537 Brunswick Street, with an entrance off Market) again to host the event, starting at noon this year instead of 10am. “Last year we ran out of comics at 2pm,” says SA manager Dave Howlett. "This year we want it to be more of an all-day event. We have the hall booked until 4.” There’s be local cartoonists doing drawings for the kids, as well as prizes, giveaways and as many free comics and you can fit into your bag, including a new Superman, Thor/Iron Man team-up and GI Joe. And at Monster Comic Lounge (2091 Gottingen Street, 429-2398) the word is “sale.” Aside from the free comics, expect 25 percent off across the board everything on display, with special discounts on graphic novels, brand new stuff to classic, up to 70 or 80 percent off.
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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Laura Chenoweth moves to top three in the Design Forward awards

Competition honours the best sustainable clothing designers in Canada.

Posted By on Thu, Apr 29, 2010 at 4:00 AM

As we wrote, about a month ago, local designers Laura Chenoweth and deux fm were competing in the semi-finals for Fashion Takes Action's first FTA Design Forward awards, dedicated to finding the best sustainable clothing designers in Canada. Close to 40 designers made the first round, then it was 14, and now Chenoweth--who is passionate about her use of organic cotton-- has moved onto the top-three finals, with labels Nicole Bridger and we3(twigg & hottie), facing a jury of experts.
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Quinpool growing concerns

Posted By on Tue, Apr 20, 2010 at 4:00 AM

In March Cyclesmith (6112 Quinpool Road, 425-1756) expanded into its new space directly adjacent to its original location at Quinpool and Vernon. “It’s not completely finished,” says co-owner Andrew Feenstra, with a chuckle, but the new room does offer customers much more space to browse the large variety of bicycles and gear they sell. Cyclesmith also now has the only bicycle fitting room in Atlantic Canada. And what is bicycle fitting? “We take customers not completely comfortable with their bike though a two-and-a-half –hour, three-part process,” says Feenstra. The first part is an interview of sorts, talking about goals, bicycling history and any injuries. The second is a physical assessment, taking in flexibility and measurements on the bike. Lastly there is a full bike fitting, on an existing model or on a new machine, if that’s what you’d like. The full deal costs $250, but there are standard and basic fittings for $150 or $50, if you’d prefer. Inquire in store for more information. | Also recently opened on Quinpool is Y Facial Bar (6172 Quinpool Road, 446-4046). They offer spa services, including waxing and massage, and they do something called semi-permanent make-up as part of their facial service. Also, you can arrange a Sunday special private group party. Call the spa to book an appointment. | Oh, and Shoptalk reported that Carlitos was changing its name, which is still the case, however the new name will in fact be Ireland32 Cafe from the beginning of May. | Across the street, Song’s Korean Restaurant (6249 Quinpool Road) has opened.
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Monday, April 19, 2010

Dacane opens Sundays

Posted By on Mon, Apr 19, 2010 at 4:00 AM

For those wussies out there who can’t handle a little winter surfing, cheer up, spring means you can get your asses out into the water again. And you might be interested to know that Dacane Sports (5239 Blowers Street, 431-7873) is now open on Sundays. They’re also starting up surf camps, so if you feel the call of the waves, warm or cold, now’s the time to get down to Dacane.
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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Suit Yourself suits itself… and you.

Posted By on Sat, Apr 17, 2010 at 4:00 AM

A fixture of the Halifax Farmers’ Market (1496 Lower Water Street) since 1993, Suit Yourself (420-9358) actually expanded in May 2009, now offering even more Canadian designers than ever. “There’s always a 50-70 percent off sale going on,” says owner Lori Pearce, who says though her regular hours are fixed (12pm-5:30pm Monday-Friday and 9am-2pm Saturday) she will keep the store open late by appointment for groups of four, providing the whole store for your private shopping pleasure and supplying wine to go along with the experience. Women will find everything from casual to cocktail to business wear, including accessories, while men will be pleased with the suits by Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and DKNY, and Pearce will do the fitting. (Oh, and when the bulk of the market moves to the Seaport this summer, Suit Yourself will stay put.)
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Get sweet on Louanna Murphy at Biscuit

Local designer launches exclusive clothing line.

Posted By on Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 3:53 PM

When Louanna Murphy won Off the Cuff, the Project Runway-style fashion competition last summer at Argyle Fine Art, she received a mentorship with Wendy Friedman, owner of Biscuit General Store (1661 Argyle Street, 425-5436). It was a chance for the NSCAD student to learn the business side of the fashion industry, and the result is Murphy’s self-named line will now be available, starting next week, at Biscuit. Murphy says she always starts with a concept (her gorgeous 2009 NSCAD Wearable Art collection was inspired by tropical bird plumage), but here she started with fabrics and a spring palette: mauve, olive, salmony pink, with touches of faux leather and graphic black and white. Biscuit will carry a range of separates that can be mixed and maximized into various outfits, but we’re really excited for her jumpsuits—Murphy designed an impeccably fitted one at Off the Cuff. Prices range from $45-$250.

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Love, Me Boutique's Second Annual T-Shirt Event on Display

Posted By on Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Regular Shoptalk readers will recall that we reported on Love, Me Boutique's Chara Kingston launching her T-Shirt Event in February, inviting readers and customers to submit t-shirts to participating designers---Kim Munson of Orphanage Clothing, Veronica MacIsaac, Jennifer Young of Pip and Pipper---to be redesigned. Well, those recreations are now complete, stylishly reimagined and very eco-friendly, and will be displayed through Earth Week at Love, Me (1539 Birmingham Street, 444-2668) April 20-April 24. (If you're one of the folks who submitted your t-shirt, you can pick it up after April 27).
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Wearable Art

When Louanna Murphy won Off the Cuff competition last summer at Argyle Fine Art, she received a mentorship with Wendy Friedman, owner of Biscuit General Store.

Posted By on Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 4:00 AM

When Louanna Murphy won Off the Cuff, the Project Runway-style fashion competition last summer at Argyle Fine Art, she received a mentorship with Wendy Friedman, owner of Biscuit General Store (1661 Argyle Street, 425-5436). It was a chance for the NSCAD student to learn the business side of the fashion industry, and the result is that Murphy’s self-named line will now be available, starting next week, at Biscuit. Murphy says she always starts with a concept (her gorgeous 2009 NSCAD Wearable Art collection was inspired by tropical bird plumage), but here she started with fabrics and a spring palette: mauve, olive, salmon pink, with touches of faux leather and graphic black and white. Biscuit will carry a range of separates that can be mixed and maximized into various outfits, but we’re really excited for her jumpsuits--Murphy designed an impeccably fitted one at Off the Cuff. Prices range from $45-$250.
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Grin and wear it

NSCAD’s Wearable Art Show is always a celebration of conceptual spectacles and killer fashions. Its 20th year is no exception.

Posted By on Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Paulina Szczesny's knee-length dress smells slightly salty and crackles when touched. It's stiff like parchment with texture similar to skin. A closer look reveals veins: pig intestine.

Inspired by Mary-Anne Wensley's intestine house at the Saint Mary's University Art Gallery last year, Szczesny decided to break the rules. She bought sausage casing from a butcher shop on Agricola. The guts were small and shrivelled at first, but once dried with an air compressor, they took on the appearance of spiral-shaped condoms. The textile student stretched, ironed and sewed them into the sinister gown trimmed with a bustier made of recycled leather.

"You can make a wearable garment that's couture-y and fashionable, but I like doing one-of-a-kind things that you wouldn't really wear, but you can wear," she says.

Szczesny is one of about 30 students participating in NSCAD's 20th annual Wearable Art Show on April 21---the longest-running event to benefit people living with AIDS in Nova Scotia. Her wearable---edible?---art is an ode to her history; it protests the cultural transformation her family had to endure when they moved to Canada from their farm in Poland. In London, Ontario, they started their own smoke house. Szczesny has cased her own sausages, so using fur, leather and guts in her work feels natural.

Intestine may be one of the creepier choices for fabric, but it's not the only strange concept at the show. As a finishing touch to his honours project, Derrick Dixon purposely set "The Phoenix Dress" on fire. "I had the image of a dress transformed through fire," he says. "I thought that if I did everything correctly, I could recreate that, even if I went down the road of special effects. I thought it was a beautiful image---very poetic."

Dixon sewed the 40-pound dress from thrifted wool coats and scrap silk donated by "unbelievably supportive" NSCAD students and teachers. He sewed thin strips of paper to the wool exterior: fuel. A close friend volunteered to model the dress while it burned.

In a clear-cut forest near Lawrencetown Beach, he decorated his model with a necklace made of lichen and earrings trimmed with pine needles, then lit the paper panels one at a time. He flips through photos from the shoot on his charcoal-covered laptop; a small orange flame licks the side of the dress. The model seems unfazed. "Everything was very smooth and quite magical, actually," Dixon says.

Alongside conceptual clothing, students will show plenty of street-ready designs.

Kathy Marsh and Chloé Gordon work together in a sunny loft, but their designs couldn't be more different. Marsh created a retro lingerie-inspired collection made of traditionally feminine fabrics such as cashmere and chiffon, while Gordon plans to show a series of "savage explorer" gender-bending jackets, pants and shorts made of canvas.

Both collections are about female empowerment, and both use chiffon in different ways. Marsh's sheer dresses celebrate curvy shapes; Gordon's boxy cuts and drop-crotches exude independence.

"My whole inspiration for my collection this year is nudity and the female form," Marsh says of her revealing collection, which will be modelled by curvy women.

"My dad always says hard work wins the day," Gordon says. "I basically haven't left the studio since the term started."

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Raw-fabric talent

Atlantic Fashion Week's Emerging Designers Showcase always presents some of the city's best young alternative fashion talents

Posted By on Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Wanna dress like the cool kids? Atlantic Fashion Week's Emerging Designers Showcase (Thursday, April 15, 8pm, O'Reagan's Mercedes Benz) always presents some of the city's best young alternative fashion talents---this time, 15 take the stage, mostly from NSCAD's fashion and textile program, though that's starting to change as the scene becomes more established and designers start to believe they can make a career here.

A new face on runway is Vanessa Furlong, best known as the charismatic singer for hip-hop crew Three Sheet. Furlong is as fresh as they come: Although she's been sewing for awhile, she only received a sewing machine at Christmas. But since that time she's designed her own ECMA gala outfit and a collection for the Button Up runway event at Argyle Fine Art, and is now looking to grow her clothing into a business. Tired of the Halifax street uniform of UGG boots and trackpants (amen, sister), Furlong hopes to inject an easygoing stage glamour into the city with her line Ness' pAs. Constantly running from work to a show, Furlong wanted something "you can throw on that makes you look hot, without effort and no fuss, that looks good with jeans or heels."

One of The Coast's favourites, Chloé comme Parris, returns with a "chic tomboy" fall collection inspired by menswear throughout time---in particular, 16th- and 17th-century "forms of protection, like armour," says Chloé Gordon, who partners with her fine jewellery-designing sister Parris for the line. (It's a family affair: the Gordon sisters' mother, also an artist, sells hand-painted bangles at Clothes Horse on Queen.) Chloé, who will be graduating from NSCAD, notably plays with texture and pattern: stitching on a pair of pants references King Arthur's full-metal armour, bleached-out paintbrush marks create a large swathing pattern over dresses styled with layers and cutouts. Parris' sleek, sheath-like rings look like they rose from The Tudors inner circle (modern Jonathan Rhys Meyers, not the original.)

The talented duo will also be showing a preview of their spring/summer collection at NSCAD's Wearable Art Show on Wednesday, before they take it to Toronto Fashion Week this September.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April 17 Record Store Day round-up: Random Play

Posted By on Wed, Apr 14, 2010 at 4:00 AM

The last music man standing on that stretch Barrington---now that CD Plus and Sam’s across the way are history---Random Play (1587 Barrington Street, 445-1056) has also gotten into vinyl in the past year, offering 300-400 new and used records on top of the majority of their music, which is on CD. The used is ‘70s and ‘80s rock and pop,” says manager Ryan DeMerchant “We have some new vinyl, mostly modern indie rock stuff.”
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New North End Craft Studio opens

Posted By on Wed, Apr 14, 2010 at 4:00 AM

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Up and running since early March, North Pocket Studio (5926 Hillside Avenue) is the working studio of three textile-based artists: Joanna Close, Keeley McLean and Rilla Marshall. McLean is a screen-printer and stitcher, while Close and Marshall are both handweavers. Set up in their shared working space are two floor looms, an industrial sewing machine and serger sewing machine. All three artists are active members of Halifax Crafters and graduates of NSCAD textiles department. Drop by to see how a loom works, peruse scarves, hats, fanny packs, and blankets for sale, and meet the artists. The studio is located at deep in the North End off Robie Street, above Satisfaction Feast. Over the spring and summer, the studio will keep regular hours on Wednesdays and Fridays from 1pm-5:30pm, when the sandwich board makes an appearance on the sidewalk, or by appointment (email: rilla13@yahoo.com). For more info visit marshallarts79.blogspot.com.
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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April 17 Record Store Day round-up: Taz Records

Posted By on Tue, Apr 13, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Taz Records (1593 Market Street, 422-5976) is turning up the volume for Record Store Day with six acts playing in-store, including Christina Martin, Molly Thomason, Chris Martin and Ryan MacGrath, with a couple more to be confirmed. We should prepare to “be surprised,” at the added names, says Taz’s James Donnelly. To sweeten the whole event, Taz will be putting on a sale of second-hand CDs and vinyl, a buy-two-get-one-free deal, and will be offering exclusive Record Store Day releases. “There’s some cool stuff coming out,” says Donnelly.
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Monday, April 12, 2010

April 17 Record Store Day round-up: Select Sounds

Posted By on Mon, Apr 12, 2010 at 4:00 AM

The vinyl that flies off the shelf at Select Sounds (1475 Bedford Highway, 835-3274) is largely in the realm of ‘60s and ‘70s rock, primarily. “And heavy metal… mainly classic stuff,” says co-owner Michael James. He says its very hard to get customers interested in buying new bands on CD, but its no problem selling their vinyl releases, while older, established bands sell well in both formats. When Shoptalk asks what they’ve got that will really impress people right now, James is coy. “Just come and see me,” he says. “You will not be disappointed.”
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