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.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

SHOP THIS: Little Queen Handmade

Macrame all day

Posted By on Wed, Jul 25, 2018 at 4:57 PM


Melanie Titus' first foray into macrame was an experiment. A portrait photographer and interior decor junkie, she taught herself how to tie the throwback knots for a photoset just over a year ago. "It started out as 'I want to try this and see if I can do it and I realized that I kind of think of it as a self-care thing. It's pretty meditative," she says. "It's done a lot for me personally, I get artistic fulfilment I wasn't getting any more from photography." She had no intention of selling her work until people started asking.

And so Little Queen Handmade—and its 'nostalgic wall art and plant hangers'—was born. Titus has been making her rounds in the craft show world (next up will be September's Maritime Makers) but mostly sells her work—like the pictured Nina plant hanger, $40—via her website, littlequeenhandmade.com, for now. She hopes to make her way into some local shops this fall. "The thing about photographs is we're so inundated with them. You scroll through things and people barely pay attention to an image," she says. "I wanted to create something a little more lasting."

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Axe marks the spot for HaliMac

Posted By on Wed, Jul 25, 2018 at 4:53 PM


Adrian Beaton always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but it wasn't until he and his family went axe throwing that his dream business plan came together. "I took it to my cousin Paul MacInnis, he was my first investor, and away we went," he says. "And it kind of just exploded." It was 2016 when the first HaliMac Axe Throwing location opened on a shoe string budget in St. John's, where Beaton currently lives, and it wasn't long after that the two Halifax natives opened a second location in Kentville. The next project? Opening their third lounge at 1920 Brunswick Street, right next door to 2 Crows Brewing Co. "It's almost our year anniversary and it has snowballed really really quickly. I opened it on a work term when I was doing industrial engineering technology, planning on massive growth ever since," says Beaton, who adds a Halifax location will be the icing on the cake. A place for "culture badasses," HaliMac will celebrate not just axe throwing, but art, craft beer and charity, too. "Every new location just gives us opportunity to improve ourselves," he adds, and Brunswick Street will be a more refined version of the first two locations. The six-lane set up will welcome not just large groups, but solo throwers too—HaliMac will charge per-person, not per-lane. "We operate in a pool hall or bowling alley fashion. You can come on your own, or with two. It really allows people to get exposed to the sport. We're building our own culture and our own community." Beaton says his aim is to open sometime in November, and it sounds like he's got some serious bullseye potential.

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Monday, July 23, 2018

Long Lake Adventure Company launches

Let's go paddling

Posted By on Mon, Jul 23, 2018 at 1:18 PM


As of last weekend your trips to Long Lake Provincial Park have become even more full of possibility. That’s when new lakeside rental shop Long Lake Adventure Company debuted on the shores of the beloved swimming, hiking, hanging spot (at the 75 Old Sambro Road entrance, near the boat launch, to be exact), with the aim of getting folks on and in the water.

"My sister and I have been paddling recreationally on the Northwest Arm for years and absolutely love it. I was familiar with Long Lake as my dad was involved with the recent development of the lake trail and the boat launch," says Sarah Polley whose father is PolyCorp's Peter Polley. After submitting a winning proposal to a government RFP for the provincial parks, Long Lake Adventure Company kicked into gear on July 14. " Since there is limited access to this type of equipment on a rental basis in the area, it presented itself as a great opportunity to encourage people to get out and active on the beautiful lake."

From now until the end of the summer, swing by for both kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals (with kid’s and adult’s sizes available) ranging from one-hour stints to full-day excursions. How’s that for a humidex antidote? Book your gear online for discounts, or show up on a whim and hope for the best. 
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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Elwood Pens is bringing the write stuff

Posted By on Thu, Jul 19, 2018 at 5:13 AM


Dylan Thompson-Mackay was in high school when he got his first taste of entrepreneurship—even though he didn’t really know it at the time. It was thanks to a pen he’d innocently made in woodshop that happened to catch the attention of the right person on the golf course.

“A banker from Toronto tried to buy it for $50,” says Thompson-Mackay of his school project, something all the kids in his class had been tasked with making. “By the end of his round of golf he’d offered me $200 for it. I never sold it to him. I still have it.”

It wasn’t a straight and simple route that landed the young maker in the pen world—he was only chipping away in woodshop because the high school IB program didn’t work out for him, which in turn cost him a scholarship to university. When the academic path he thought was right for him disappeared, he forged ahead, re-set and re-wrote his story.

“Then I went to NSCC for business and kept hearing the word entrepreneur over and over again,” says Thompson-Mackay. “I’m from Pictou County and pretty much everyone and their dog works at Michelin or the pulp mill and I didn’t really have an understanding that you could start your own business.”

Now he’s launched Elwood Pens, named for his grandfather, a man who struggled with addictions before righting his course. The business has grown from Thompson-Mackay making wooden pens in his uncle’s garage (and then in a 70-square-foot shed) to a retail space and workshop at 1574 Argyle Street that celebrated its grand opening this week. His aim is to make top-quality, handmade, personalized gifts for tourists and locals alike, and to operate as a social enterprise, with five percent of Elwood’s gross sales going back to non-profits that have made an impact on his life, like Big Brothers Big Sisters. At just 22, Thompson-Mackay has lots of plans keep challenging himself as well as the local market.

“The tagline is ‘Write your own story’”, he says. “I want to inspire others to create their own narrative.”
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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Bailly Perfume smells like good spirits

Ariel Gough and Edwina Govindsamy are aiming to innovate with Bailly Perfume Oils, a vegan, cruelty-free line of coconut oil-based signature scents.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 4:00 AM

Ariel Gough and Edwina Govindsamy are rolling our their roll-on perfume - MEGHAN TANSEY WHITTON
  • Ariel Gough and Edwina Govindsamy are rolling our their roll-on perfume
  • Meghan Tansey Whitton

When Ariel Gough and Edwina Govindsamy first met—on a friend date set up by Gough’s mom—there was good energy right away. “I think the first time that we met for coffee at Starbucks, we just clicked and knew that we wanted to start something together. It took us awhile to figure out what that was,” Gough says. Govindsamy agrees.

As they settled seamlessly into a close friendship, the duo began daydreaming of what their side-hustle could be in this #girlboss age. “I remember we wanted to do headphones. It was very random, but I remember us thinking ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be great to go into a coffee shop or Starbucks and just grab headphones?’ But then we realized it wasn’t very innovative,” Gough recalls. “The other one was wireless charging, but we realized we’d be going up against tech giants like Apple. We also thought about coffee mugs and then Korean beauty products,” Govindsamy adds. When the pals realized that perfume was a vital part of both of their beauty routines, an idea took root: A line of high-end, roll-on, coconut-oil based fragrances that were easy, feminine and wearable—titled Bailly Perfume Oils.

“When we started out, we didn’t know anything about perfumes, we’re not perfumers at all,” Gough says, adding they cycled through dozens of suppliers and perfumers (the scent wizards who concoct a perfume recipe) before finding a match as seamless as their friendship. “Initially we found out the difference between a perfume and an eau de parfum is the alcohol base–it has about 80 percent alcohol and 20 percent fragrance. But what we really loved about the perfume oils that we’ll be selling is it’s 100 percent perfume and no alcohol. So that means the fragrance will stay on longer, and it’s a lot more subtle, so when you walk into a room the whole room won’t smell it.”

“Right now, in Sephora, there are no perfume oils on the shelf—maybe one by Elizabeth and James,” Govindsamy adds. Their debut scent, called Brilliance, fills a void with an offering of black currant, patchouli, vanilla and pear notes, delivered in a coconut oil base that’s vegan, cruelty-free and paraben-free. “We basically went to Sephora and Shoppers and smelled everything that they had and made a list of the types of scents we liked—we like sweet and gourmand scents and something a little fruity—and we’d go to the perfumer and tell them what we liked and they’d then do the mixtures and send back samples,” Govindsamy says. The scent will be available for purchase later this month, you can check their website, bailly.co, for launch details (and to shop online).

“We were inspired by women like us—women who are into fashion and beauty, are ambitious and goal-oriented but also socially conscious and want to help create a better world. And, from there, we thought a perfume oil would be a great way to connect with these women. The roll-on bottle is something they can carry with them all the time, reminding them what we stand for—impacting women. And, 15 percent [of profits] from each bottle sold goes to the Girl Power Project, helping young girls from Uganda stay in school.” Gough adds. “We want to make a difference.”

“I think with any scent there’s an aromatherapy aspect to it, because everyone reacts to scent differently—like if you smell bread and then think of your grandma who used to bake bread,” says Govindsamy. “We hope people will find meaning within the scent and our brand altogether.” 
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Guided Tour - Downtown Halifax

Halifax’s centre may be a political and business capital, but it’s also an inviting place for the rest of us, with great boutiques and unforgettable eating to discover.

Posted on Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 4:00 AM

East coast crafts
The crisp white walls house everything you've needed to say but have never had the words for before now. Whether you're from the East Coast or beyond, the cards at Inkwell Modern Handmade Boutique are relatable but with a quirky, you-never-would-have-thought-of-it-yourself, twist.

If you're a Haligonian, you'll recognize Inkwell by its 97-year-old working press which creates their Inkwell Originals. Out of towners: It's a must-see while you're visiting the area, and trust us, you'll be taking home a true Maritime souvenir. Inkwell carries a variety of over 200 independent artisans originating in Nova Scotia along with further corners of Canada as well as around the globe.

Now with their addition of pantry food items, you can pair your card design with a treat for the special occasion or just some authentic Canadian maple syrup for yourself. Inkwell Originals' unique flair is expanding into other sectors of Halifax, and in other cities as far away Ottawa and Vermont. But even with this growing list, they never lose their neighbourhood feel.

Inkwell Modern Handmade Boutique, 2011 Brunswick Street

Ocean has so much to see
Friends and frames—isn't that all we ever need? The Ocean Optometry team started with a desire to work alongside their friends, and together they combined their knowledge to bring us the best (and most fashionable) care.

We've entrusted our friends at Ocean Optometry to always tell us what's in style, and recently they've incorporated a new collection from LA-based designer Blake Kuwahara. His frames take heartbreakingly chic to a new level with his subtly obvious edge. You'll want to show off their sleek simplicity the second you walk out their door.

At Ocean Optometry, they teeter the border between art and science with their fashion-forward angle to eye care. But who says you can't be both? In their care, you can have your cake and be able to see it, too.

Now it's easier than ever to book an appointment live directly online—connect at oceanoptometry.ca—and they make visiting them a breeze with new complimentary parking nearby. (Yes, you are reading that correctly: Ocean offers complimentary parking downtown.)

Ocean Optometry, 5240 Blowers Street

Carb overload
Strawberry buns, salted-caramel brownie cheesecake or coconut cream pie eclairs: It's not a satisfying morning until you've picked up your treat from The Old Apothecary Bakery & Cafe.

The sugar high is just the frosting on the cake that is the decadent baked goods, but the real kick is that everything is made fresh in-house. No need to feel guilty—it's all fresh ingredients in these pastries. Dine in or take it on the go—the products travel well and make for a great walk-to-work snack.

Their savoury is just as tempting as the sweet, especially when we're talking breakfast biscuits topped with homemade mayo and micro greens. Can't you already taste that flaky goodness? The Old Apothecary is a carb-lover's dream come true. With the smell of freshly baked bread filling the air, you won't be able to resist taking some home for the whole family.

The Old Apothecary Bakery & Cafe, 1549 Barrington Street

The best of country
Where can you go for an equally delicious breakfast or a fine whiskey sour? Only at Ruby's Rhinestone Reception & Lounge can you experience a little country flair in the HRM.

Breakfast at Ruby's means southern buttermilk breakfast biscuits, and lunch is begging you to try their tender fried chicken. Ruby's chefs are always experimenting and refining versions of classic homestyle foods. They take a little bit of history and bring it to 2018, even their atmosphere brings you back to the 1920s, right down to the historic building.

Their bar is built around a massive bank vault where you can put your elbows up and choose between the finest whiskies Halifax has to offer. Whether it's a ladies' night out or your next date night, come hungry or come for the joy of country music. Ruby's has live music every Friday and Saturday, and the best of country every other night.

Ruby's Rhinestone Reception & Lounge, 5187 Salter Street

Taste the quality
Looking at their menu, you'll only read the best natural ingredients. And speaking with the staff, you'll only receive the best service. At Verano Food Purveyors, they take pride in offering the premium on all fronts. With quality this good, you can taste it the minute you walk through the doors.

You can experience a different food journey each time you visit, and still the taste never wavers. Their authentic blend of Venezuelan and Mexican flavours will make your mouth water. Between the arepa with chicken, Cuban sandwich,or handmade soups, you can go in at any time of the day and leave satisfied (and wanting to come back for multiple meals).

Verano's commitment to their customers is "a smile with every bite" and it's hard to decide which makes you smile more: The food or the service. Their staff is some of the best in the HRM, constantly serving downtown wanderers with pleasure and, of course, a smile.

Verano Food Purveyors, 1871 Hollis Street

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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Petite Urban Pooch marks its territory on Agricola Street

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2018 at 5:09 PM

Waggy Wednesday - VIA FACEBOOK
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There’s been a pretty quick turnaround in the space that Theatre Nova Scotia’s The Living Room used to occupy at 2353 Agricola Street. That’s because former Isleville Street resident, Petite Urban Pooch—doggy daycare for the little pups—has moved in and given the space a new look. The 900 square foot dog playland (and its corresponding backyard) welcomes its daycare dogs back to school this week after a short hiatus during renovations.

With phase one of the move complete, owner Cindy James says she wants to focus on the dog-sitting side of the business for the next month before launching PUP’s dog lounge near the end of July. The service will be brand new for James, offering bookings in one-hour increments for humans and their little dogs (perfect for socializing puppies who don’t necessarily need a sitter) or just dog-loving humans who want to play with a bunch of fur-babies.

“It was born out of the fact Nikki and I are in here with the dogs 10 to 11 hours a day and it’s just a blast—it’s too good not to share,” says James of the stress-busting elements of her job. “We thought, how can we give people access who don’t own dogs, or have dogs that don’t need 10 hours of daycare?”

When the lounge gets going it’ll also offer a small seating area for owners to swing by with their fur friends. Here, there’ll be a space to hang out and retail counter offering up handmade treats (in the shape of donairs, tacos and pizza) from Littlest Pet Bakery as well as dog beer—a bone broth based elixir that’s all-natural goodness James says her clientele loves alone, or drizzled on kibble. Perfect for after a long game of fetch on the Common, perhaps.

Keep an eye on PUP’s Facebook for updates.
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In Print This Week

Vol 28, No 1
July 9, 2020

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