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, April 30, 2012

Marcel Ayoub takes over Hairs To Ya

Quinpool business is likely oldest barbershop in Halifax.

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 4:19 PM

Barber Marcel Ayoub has sold his old shop at 2830 Gottingen and bought Hairs To Ya (6261 Quinpool Road, 423-3300).

Ayoub started cutting hair when he was just 12 years old at a barbershop in Lebanon, where he had to reach customers' hair by standing on a stool. He's been cutting hair for 37 years since, and this year is the 30th anniversary of Ayoub winning the gold medal in international Coupe du Monde world hair cutting championship.

Ayoub uses "old school techniques," and still shaves with a straight razor.

He owned the Gottingen location for 20 years, but the Quinpool site has an even longer history: it's been a barbershop for almost 70 years, he says, and he thinks it may be the oldest barbershop in town.

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John W. Doull Bookseller move almost complete

Downtown mainstay about to reopen in Dartmouth

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 2:59 PM

A reader sends a picture of the interior of John W. Doull Bookseller (1684 Barrington Street, 429-1652):
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They're not answering the phone, but word is the new store at 122 Main Street in Dartmouth should be open in the next few days.

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I Heart Bikes announces new guided tour

"Old Halifax, new Halifax" take two hours.

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 12:52 PM

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I Heart Bikes (boardwalk, (406-7774) has announced a new tour for the upcoming season. "Old Halifax, new Halifax" will "touch on key historical aspects of the City while also highlighting the more forward thinking part," says the company's website. "Starting at the Halifax Harbour we will make our way up into the historical and charming South End of Halifax and then weave our way through tree lined corridors and into heart of the City, the Halifax Commons."

Cost is $39, or $25 if you have your own bike. Clearly, the tour is geared towards tourists, but locals are more than welcome to join in.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cash mob for Phat

Customer organizing support for strapped barber

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 12:44 PM

For the last year or so, it seems like someone has been out to get Phat Luong. This Friday, many more people will be coming out to help.

Luong, the owner of Phat’s Barber Shop (2170 Windsor Street, 423-6596) has been the victim of repeated vandalism. The most recent case resulted in an oil spill that’s cost almost $200,000 in environmental clean-up. (See here for our story on him from last week.) Luong’s insurance has been footing the bill, but his coverage is running out as clean-up costs continue to rise. In an effort to help, Chad Poirier is organizing a cash mob, encouraging Haligonians to support Luong on Friday April 27, by stopping by and paying $20 (more than his going-rate) for a haircut. He hopes the move will show Luong, and the vandal, that the community is on the barber’s side.

“If I can say anything, it's to whoever is messing with Phat: This aggression will not stand.”
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Housewerks opens in Plan B

A new source for furniture and housewares

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Daun Windover has opened Housewerks, a new furniture outlet, at Plan B (2180 Gottingen Street, 802-0731). An admitted fan of kitsch, she sells and buys mid-century furniture and housewares. Here's how she describes the store's contents (from her Facebook page): "Fabulous teak, California ceramics, barkcloth fabrics and anything else that you've see in any episode of Mad Men."
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Monday, April 23, 2012

More on Sculptura

North end fitness studio for women only

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Due to an editing error in last week's print edition of Shoptalk, the detail that Sculptura Fitness (2827 Isleville Street, 209-3412) is a club only for women was unfortunately omitted. More details about the club can be found here.

Owner Essa Horvath also wanted to mention that Scultura is "based in small group classes and personal training. Our group classes are unique in that they include fitness assessments and personal goal setting with the help of a trainer each month." She also adds: "We're in the Hydrostone district, and also offer outdoor classes in the summer months."
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Fair Trade Bazaar comes on Mother's Day

Focus is on lesser-known local fair trade businesses.

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 10:27 AM

Selene Cole and partner Alex Cole build a yurt.
  • Selene Cole and partner Alex Cole build a yurt.

Let me try a magic trick. Think of a Nova Scotia-based fair trade company.

Is it Just Us? As much as I’d like to admit to having psychic powers, it was more of a lucky guess than anything else, seeing as it’s the largest fair trade business in the province.

The Fair Trade Bazaar on May 12 and 13 (10am-6pm), though, is striving to highlight Nova Scotia’s lesser-known fair trade start-ups.

“The need for the bazaar stems from a collective need to have more opportunities to showcase fairly traded goods,” says organizer Selene Cole. The bazaar will be hard to miss: just look for the yurt in Victoria Park (South Park Street and Spring Garden Road). Cole’s Little Foot Yurt company makes, sells, rents and workshops these nomadic homes.

Like the other participating businesses, Cole imports her textiles from women’s co-operatives around the world. “It’s critically important to empower women economically, because they feed their family, they support their communities and they look after their health,” says Valerie Hearder, owner of African Threads, whose big sells are embroideries and beadwork.

The bazaar falls on Mother’s Day weekend and World Fair Trade Day. Tammachat Natural Textiles co-owner and bazaar organizer Ellen Agger says: “it’s a great time to buy a Mother’s Day gift and to be able to learn something about the women who made it.” She likes to highlight the stories of the Thai and Lao women who fashion the accessories, home décor and clothing she sells.

“I know there’s such a focus right now on buying local,” says Cole, “but I think it’s also important to value what Nova Scotians are bringing culturally into the province and to support that.”

The bazaar will also feature Fibre Fixation and, yes, Just Us! will have a booth.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Bob Blumenthal Auto Sales and Service expands

Mechanic Lee Redding brought on for new Dartmouth location.

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2012 at 10:21 AM

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The ever-delightful Megan Blumenthal tells me that her dad, Bob, is expanding his business. Bob Blumenthal Auto Sales and Service has been in Sackville (54 Sackville Drive, 880-3388) since 2004; now he is opening a new Dartmouth location at 336 Portland Street---at the former gas station/repair shop near Neighbours Pub. The new location is close to the Blumenthal home.

Bob has hired well-known mechanic Lee Redding to oversee service at the new location.

"I once asked Dad why he doesn't retire, why he keeps doing what he does," says Megan. "He answered: "I' sell cars because I love all of the different people I get to meet each day. We sell cars to people who have lived in our community for years, and many to new immigrants, excited to start new lives here in our province. You get to know everyone. You're part of the community.'"

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Urban Home closes up shop

Owner Jim Kennedy promises to refund all payments.

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2012 at 3:35 PM

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Urban Home has closed its doors and vacated the high-profile premises at the corner of Cunard and Agricola Streets. The furniture store had a rough go off it from the start; its announced opening in February 2011 was delayed four days, then earlier this year the store shut down for renovations that dragged on for weeks, and only re-opened earlier this month. All the while, customers who had ordered and paid deposits on merchandise said they had not received that merchandise. One customer told me he contacted the manufacturer directly, and was told that Urban Home had never ordered the goods he had paid a deposit on.

Earlier this week I attempted to contact all the disgruntled customers who had commented on The Coast website. About half of those who responded said they had received a refund; the other half had not.

Then, Wednesday morning, the store was abruptly emptied.

I contacted owner Jim Kennedy, who immediately responded, as follows:

I agree that it would be unethical for us to take money from customers and not deliver products. For this reason, we would really appreciate if The Coast is able to help us communicate to our existing customers that ALL customers will be refunded in full for any purchases which they did not receive product. Our closing was very abrupt as many serious issues arose over the past few days which were unavoidable leaving us unable to maintain any longer. We will ensure no customers are out of pocket and would have loved to deliver on all orders but it was simply not possible. We are mailing copies of invoices along with refund instructions to all remaining customers who have not yet been refunded this week so they can expect to receive them early next week. We do not keep credit card information so automatically processing these refunds was not an option. It is never easy operating a small business and we are disappointed that our time at Urban Home has expired.
The initial customer I talked with tells me today that he has indeed been contacted, at it appears that a refund is in the works, but he hasn't yet received it.

The biggest problem for new businesses is under-capitalization; proverbially, new business owners should plan to be able to float their businesses for three years without profit, but that's almost never the case. Still, there's no sin in starting a business and failing, but how that business is conducted matters. It's good to hear Kennedy trying to set things right by his customers. I'd be interested in hearing if customers receive their refunds; please tell me your experiences in the comments.

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Sueno swimwear at Love, Me

Designer Joanna Tranter shows her stuff

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2012 at 4:00 AM

Want to get your tan on and support a local artist at the same time? Joanna Tranter’s got you covered. The couture fashion grad has only been whipping up her Sueno line of swimsuits since January, but is already preparing to start selling them at Love, Me Boutique (1539 Birmingham, 444-3668) next week.

While Tranter, who began sewing at a young age, takes a lot of her design inspiration from tropical locations, the beach and summer, she has some more practical style ideas too.

“I do a lot of surfing and kite-surfing, so some of the design is trying to make styles that will stay on when I’m doing that,” she says.

Tranter’s suits and bikini pieces range in price from $35-$115. Five designs were handpicked to be sold at Love, Me Boutique for approximately 60 days. If the suits are popular, they’ll be back in July. Check them out at here.
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Indie Boutik to close, designers have a sale

Independent designer conglomeration splitting in June, Laura Chenoweth sale at her studio

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2012 at 4:00 AM

We'd reported on changes happening at Indie Boutik Collective (1542 Queen Street) last week and recently, indicating that things were in flux at the Queen Street shop, a great retail idea that allowed for storefront visibility to a collection of talented designers.

Unfortunately, the experiment is coming to an end. "I really wanted to see it continue but I could not find anyone to take my place as the lease holder so I have no choice but to let it go," explains host designer Katherine Munro of Dakini Silks, who is returning to her graphic design career. The store will remain open until June 1, and starting May 1 it will be having a huge closing out sale. "Everything must go!" says Munro.

Indie Boutik member Laura Chenoweth has chosen to have her first big sale of the year of organic apparel and fabrics at her Creative Crossing studio location (5-2526 Agricola Street, 877-9062), May 4 to 6. Everything will be $20.

UPDATE Friday, April 20, 1pm:
The date of Laura Chenoweth's sale has been changed to May 25, 26 and 27 at her studio.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Norex gets a Webby nod

Halifax-based web-design firm recognized as one of the best in the industry

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 12:57 PM

Nerds of Halifax, prepare to be proud of your city. Norex (211 Horseshoe Lake Drive, 444-3335), a Halifax based web design and development company, has been nominated for best law website by international award giver-outers, the Webbys.

“We have a proven process that allows us to think inside, outside, through and around the box to create great websites,” says Leah Skerry, the managing partner of Norex, in a press release. “This nomination is a huge honour and reaffirms that our work truly stands out.”

The nomination is for Norex’s work for McInnes Cooper (mcinnescooper.com), an Atlantic Canada law firm. But earning the nomination was only step one. From now until April 26, you can log onto pv.webbyawards.com to vote for your favourite websites, including Norex’s. Winners will be announced on May 1 and swept off to New York City for a star-studded ceremony. Pretty exciting, right?

UPDATE April 18, 2pm. McInnes Cooper has offices throughout the region and not just in PEI as was originally stated in this story.
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Halifax Really, Really Free Market takes place Sunday

The Common the site for Sunday's barter market

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2012 at 5:15 PM

The first one was a hit. The second one should prove even more exciting, and just as priceless. The Halifax Really, Really Free Market is back on Sunday, April 22 (12pm-5pm) and has relocated to the Halifax Common from last month's at the Khyber. Organizer Sarah Ovens says the outdoor spot is a tribute to Earth Day, coinciding with the event. If you didn’t get to attend the first event, let’s make one thing clear: everything is truly, undeniably, pinky-swear free. The premise is simple: show up with your stuff and take your pick of others’ items. Ovens is talking to you, university students. “I think we treat a lot of things as disposable,” she says, citing students who toss their stuff on move-out day, only for other students to buy the same items in the fall. “Let’s try and share to make better use of what we all have." Don’t feel like shopping? The market also attracts people offering a swath of free services and performances, from poets to painters to barbers. So, come and share, socialize and shop this Sunday.

UPDATE, April 18, 10:30am
The last Free Market at the Khyber was last month, not last year as was originally reported. Also, the Common location of the market is not liable to be permanent as the event continues monthly. UPDATE, April 19, 3:37pm
If it rains, the market will move into the George Dixon Centre, 2501 Gottingen Street.
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Sculptura Fitness opening soon

Gym for women offers variety and bonding

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2012 at 5:10 PM

Hey ladies! Looking for a women-only gym that offers more than ellipticals and judgmental stares? Put down that dumbbell, we’ve got something just for you. Kinesiology grad Essa Horvath has opened the doors to Sculptura Fitness (2827 Isleville Street, 209-3412) this month and promises to offer three things that traditional gyms are lacking: an intimidation-free environment, accountability to your workout group and a fitness plan tailored just for you. Oh, and lots of fun and bonding too.

“At Sculptura you get, basically, a support group,” she says. “You’re there with all the women that want to achieve their own goals that may be quite similar to yours, or maybe a little different, but you’re all there supporting each other.”

Horvath hopes to get your blood pumping with an ever-changing combination of Pilates, strength training and cardio. There’s a limit of 12 women per class, which gives her lots of time to work with you, one-on-one. Women of all ages and physical fitness levels are welcome.
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Monday, April 16, 2012

Colorful Fruits sets up at Plan B

Gottingen Street is turning Japanese

Posted By on Mon, Apr 16, 2012 at 4:53 PM

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The Japanese are known for jumping on North American trends. Now, Ayaka Yoshioka is bringing Japan to Halifax. Plan B’s (2180 Gottingen Street) newest member brings a young, feminine vibrancy to the co-op. The Colorful Fruits cubby at the back of the shop is petite, but its contents live up to its name. Yoshioka orders the trendiest accessories from Japan, like hairclips, compacts and teddy bear key chains, then bedazzles them with multi-coloured rhinestones and other plastic decorations. The real gems of her collection, though, are colour pencil drawings of what Yoshioka calls “Lolitas”: romantic anime-style girls with bodacious hair and wooing eyes. Done by the designer herself, they are delightfully detailed examples of Japanese pop art. “My expensive, more gorgeous things are already gone,” says the designer, who only set up shop last week.
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