Go Local: Main Street Dartmouth

Main Street Dartmouth is a hub of suburban activity.

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With people rushing in and out of grocery stores, fast food joints and gas stations, it may be difficult to notice all the local goodness happening in the area. But from exotic pets to office-building yoga, we found lots of unique shops and services to love among the chains.

Always and Forever
145 Main Street, 462-5450
This is the only formal wear company in Atlantic Canada that carries everything in stock for tuxedos---shirts, shoes, jackets, belts. It’s the one-stop shop for menswear for any formal event. Women are a little more complicated, though. It’s hard to get just everything a woman will need for an event, but with attire ranging from wedding gowns to prom dresses to the mother of the bride, there’s a lot to choose from. Let one of the friendly employees help you pick out the right dress. Don’t forget to take off your shoes before going into the bridal gallery, though!

Dungeon Sportswear
169 Main Street, Suite #4, 407-3222
A choice store for local mixed martial arts fighters and enthusiasts, this MMA equipment shop has made a name for itself. Opened in 2009 by Terry Martell, Dungeon sells everything an established or beginning MMA fighter would need---clothes, boxing gloves, ear guards, rash guards and even protein powder. A lot of fighters “were getting their gear online,” says Martell. Dungeon Sportswear has been endorsed by local MMA and Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter TJ Grant, who trains just up the road at Fit Plus Martial Arts (850 Main Street).

Garden View Restaurant
174 Main Street, 435-7777
You can’t miss the large patio on this delectable Chinese restaurant, which has been going strong for almost 90 years. With yummy combos for groups and individuals, plus dessert--- you could get the standard fortune cookie, or a just-as-delicious but maybe not-as-wise almond cookie. Check out one of the chef’s specials, such as the Garden View Tai Dop Woy (chicken, shrimp and pork w/veggies) or the ginger beef. But for seafood lovers, the Sizzling Plate is where it’s at---fresh lobster, shrimp and scallops with vegetables served on a sizzling hot iron plate.

NL Jungle Pets
50 Tacoma Drive, 429-8055
Reptiles, rodents, fish and fluffy kitties galore! Celebrating its two-year anniversary in April (and six months at the new location), Jungle Pets carries an assortment of exotic animals (and some cats, dogs and rabbits, too) and supplies. What makes this place really special is that the staff performs educational animal shows at kids’ birthday parties, or whatever the occasion may be. “I tell the kids where they come from. They get to see and touch the animals,” says owner Dylan Jackman, who keeps his show animals (not for sale!) on display in the store. He’s been doing shows for seven years.

Platinum Pawn/Stash Box
143 Main Street, 434-8300
Walking into this pawn shop feels like walking into a gold mine. Old NES, SNES and N64 games, amps, DVDs, guitars---this place has everything. You could seriously lose yourself for hours just gazing at the second-hand goodness in this store. Although owners Gary and Denise Julian say the pawn shop is doing great, seeing all sorts of clientele from nurses to military personnel, it’s the next door smoke shop that sees most of the business. “It’s really beating the pawn shop retail-wise,” says Denise, who says the Stash Box gets its own assortment of customers, from college students to senior citizens. To get to the Stash Box, customers have to walk through Platinum Pawn, which may take awhile, as it’s hard not to get distracted.

Princesa Gold
169 Main Street, 404-3273
Joel Hernandez has one heck of a life story. Fleeing the brutality of the Salvadoran civil war over two decades ago, Hernandez is now a proud Canadian and owner of Princesa Gold, named after his daughters---his little princesses. But you may not have heard of this seven-year, three-person, family-run business, as Hernandez rarely advertises; Princesa Gold is almost exclusively word-of-mouth. Hernandez works with clients to create original, gold jewellery. Engagement rings are a specialty---Princesa sells Eskimo Arctic Ice Diamonds. To check out a gallery of Hernandez’s work, see princesagold.com.

S&L Worx Hydroponics
135 Main Street, 434-4769
Gardening outdoors can be frustrating, so why not try an indoor garden this year? Hydroponics is the simple art of gardening without any soil, just water. Clay balls are what keeps the plants in place as they get rooted into the water. Very little work is involved once everything is set up and ready to go, as most of the process is automated. “There’s less of a chance of pest or mildew or any of that,” says Loretta Josey, who opened the store in 2008. The system also allows avid gardeners to expand the season, since they don’t have to worry too much about harsh or unpredictable weather. Visit

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