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Thursday, July 9, 2020

Don’t pass me by: Nova Scotia's hidden gems

Don’t stick to the rivers and lakes you’re used to; try chasing some waterfalls this summer.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2020 at 5:00 PM

Take a plunge into Mary Ann Falls next time you're in the highlands. - DERRICK FUNK
  • Take a plunge into Mary Ann Falls next time you're in the highlands.
  • DERRICK FUNK

You're planning a weekend road trip. Maybe it's somewhere you go every summer, or maybe it's a whole new Nova Scotian adventure you're inspired to take because of the COVID-19 travel restrictions. This province has countless popular tourist destinations that are usually packed to the brim with come-from-aways. But they won't come this year, so it's the perfect opportunity to check it out.

While you're there, take a look around. Where are the locals having lunch? What's that cute, kitschy shop on the corner with the stuffed lobster in the window? What happens if you take the road less travelled? Here are some recommendations for just about any area of the province. You might find yourself a new favourite spot, and it'll be one the tourists don't know about.

The Valley

If you're whale watching in Digby, check out Roof Hound Brewing Co. (2580 Ridge Road, Digby), for outside-the-box brews like the Keltic Devil porter and the Big Stink IPA. Owner Les Barr was a contestant on Season 3 of MasterChef Canada, and whips up some yummy eats. If you're a bit further up the Valley, they've also got a Kingston location.

If you're headed to Cape Split for the view, hit up nearby I Scream (9838 Main Street) in Canning afterwards for a sweet cone to make it all worthwhile. Or skip the hike and just get the ice cream, we don't make the rules.

If you're checking out the 17 acres of beauty that is the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens, make sure you have lunch at The Crow's Nest AKA Shore Road Seafood (3931 Shore Road, Hillsburn) for the best and freshest seafood you can find.


South Shore

If you're spending a day at The Ovens, check out family-owned Rose Bay General Store (3452 Highway 332) just 10 minutes down the road. It's the general store of your dreams, with local meat and produce, homemade sweets and even a pretty decent wine selection. They've also got a cute bistro where you can grab a sandwich or pizza on your way to Sand Dollar Beach next door.

The isolated saunas at Sensea Nordic Spa will make you forget all your worries. - SUBMITTED
  • The isolated saunas at Sensea Nordic Spa will make you forget all your worries.
  • SUBMITTED
If you're thinking of digging for treasure at Oak Island, treat yourself to a day where you're the real gem at Sensea Nordic Spa (40 Sensea Road, Chester). Dip into their pools that overlook the nearby lake or relax in a sauna to watch your stress melt away.

If you're headed for a getaway at White Point Beach resort, make a secondhand shopping trip of it by hitting up nearby Guy's Frenchy's (344 Main Street, Liverpool). Tucked away in a strip mall, this second-hand haven has a wide selection of men's wear and plus size clothing.


Cape Breton

If you're driving the Cabot Trail, check out Charlene's Restaurant (9657 Highway 105) in Whycocomagh. It's only doing take-out for now, but there's no better way to eat some fish and chips than while watching the sunset over the mountains.

If you spend a day at Ingonish beach, be sure to stop at The Dancing Moose Café (42691 Cabot Trail Road, Birch Plain) on your way back. Their Dutch pancakes aren't your typical Nova Scotian fare but you can forego seafood for one night, right?

And if you're chasing literal waterfalls, Mary Ann Falls, located inside the Highlands National Park is the spot for both a picturesque hike and a plunge under the water.


Central and Northern NS

Rafting down the Shubie river isn't for the faint of heart. - NOVA SCOTIA.CA
  • Rafting down the Shubie river isn't for the faint of heart.
  • NOVA SCOTIA.CA
If you're headed to Shubenacadie Wildlife Park (149 Creighton Road) you can make your afternoon a bit more daring by venturing to the mouth of the Shubenacadie River, where tidal bore rafting abounds.

If you're picking up goodies at Masstown Market (10622 Trunk 2, Debert), head to nearby Great Village Antiques (8728 Highway 2) to redecorate your whole apartment with vintage paintings, clocks and other housewares.

The Earltown General store in Tatamagouche is stocked with all the essentials and homemade goods you'll ever need. - SUBMITTED
  • The Earltown General store in Tatamagouche is stocked with all the essentials and homemade goods you'll ever need.
  • SUBMITTED

Planning a stay on the north shore, where beaches are plentiful and the water is warm(er)? Spend a night inside one of seven train cabooses at the Tatamagouche Train Station (21 Station Road), and sip an afternoon away at Tata Brew Co. (235 Main Street). You can even head to the old Earltown General Store (5556 Highway 311) for homemade sweets, jams and jellies.

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Shop local swimwear, whatever your style

With no time to wait for online orders, shop local this summer and support small biz while you're at it.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2020 at 5:00 PM

Martinique Swim's Cow Bay showroom is just minutes from Rainbow Haven beach. - ALIX SURETTE
  • Martinique Swim's Cow Bay showroom is just minutes from Rainbow Haven beach.
  • ALIX SURETTE

The hunt for the perfect suit meets its match with Simone Prisenberg's splurge-worthy swimwear. As owner and operator of Martinique Swim, Prisenberg's cute suits are available at several stores or directly from martiniqueswim.com. Head to the showroom in Cow Bay (by appointment only) for a personalized fitting and consultation, or pick one up at Biscuit General Store (1661 Argyle Street) or Pro Skates (6451 Quinpool Road).

If you want swimwear that's printed, Thief & Bandit (1673 Barrington Street, Suite 200) is the brand for you. Whether you're a stargazer who's into an out-of-this-world pattern or you're channeling Carole Baskin with a cheetah-print bikini, Thief & Bandit's swimwear will make you the life of the pool party. Find them at thiefandbandit.com.

Sueno Swimwear owner Joanne Tranter grew up surrounded by beaches in South Wales, travelling to California and Mexico as she learned to surf, and began making her own bikinis before settling in Black Point. Tranter launched her business in 2012 and since then has been creating bold prints and asymmetrical patterns, available on her Etsy shop or at suenoclothing.com.

Local designers Ana & Zac have partnered with Sueno for a new collection that's minimalist and basic in all the right ways. Check it out at anaandzac.ca/collections/sueno.

Sisters Omeda and Anna launched label Meda Swim in 2015. Its style selection skews simple, but the basic suits are flattering on all body types and are named after different Canadian towns. Their swimsuit models are all friends, mothers, and women they know in real life. Shop at medaswim.com.

Agricola Street shop Sattva Boutique (2453 Agricola Street) stocks swimwear from size-inclusive brand Mimi & August, based out of Montreal. Grab a few of the high-quality Canadian-made suits in store, or check out the full collection online at mimiandaugust.com.

If you're looking for a one-of-a-kind swimsuit, Girl on the Moon's got you. You can literally make your own with patterns from crochet guru Girl On The Moon, AKA Alison Durning. After learning how to make bags and baskets, Durning was hooked on crochet, and began her Etsy business in 2015. Find her on Instagram @girlonthemooncrochet.

Silken Lingerie store in Sunnyside Mall (1595 Bedford Highway) is for people looking for a bit more care in their swimwear-buying experience. Owner Morva Castellani and her staff will help you with a free bra fitting to find the perfect size, and they even offer a specialty selection of D+ cup size swimwear and mastectomy swimwear. silkenlingerie.ca/

If you've had no luck with the usual suspects, try thrifting your next swimsuit. Check out Fat Chance Vintage, Me + You Thrift, or The Bounty Hfx on Instagram to find a pre-loved suit you can rock all summer. Bonus: The Bounty also has a selection of items available at Lost & Found (2383 Agricola Street).

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Thursday, June 18, 2020

Salons and barber shops booked up for weeks after re-opening

You're not alone if your stylist's next open slot isn't until July

Posted By on Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 10:30 AM

Thumpers stylists masked up for re-opening of salons. - THUMPERS SALON
  • Thumpers stylists masked up for re-opening of salons.
  • Thumpers Salon
Starting on May 27, Marvin Upshaw was bombarded with phone calls. The owner and head barber at Ascension Barbershop began taking bookings as soon as Premier McNeil and Dr. Strang announced the re-opening, scheduling appointments starting June 5.

“Our clients have been nothing but supportive, always contacting us saying, ‘Book me in ahead, I’m waiting for a cut.’ Obviously they’re pretty long overdue,” Upshaw tells The Coast.

After being closed for the better part of three months, the team at Ascension’s two locations—in Lower Sackville and Wolfville—were ready to re-open.

“All the barbers seemed quite excited. It was almost like a resurgence, an energetic feel,” Upshaw says. Ascension’s third location at Dalhousie University hasn’t re-opened yet since no students are on campus.

Between the announcement and the re-opening, Upshaw says he read up on the rules from the Barber’s Association of Nova Scotia, which include both customers and barbers wearing masks, and not taking walk-in appointments.

“It actually assisted in stepping our game up, organization-wise,” Upshaw says. The owner says he didn’t feel rushed and had plenty of time to re-arrange the shop to allow for social distancing. “Prior to [re-opening] I ordered Plexiglass for in-between stations, proper disinfectant, new tools,” he says.
A fresh cut at Ascension in the new normal involves a mask for both client and barber - ASCENSION BARBERS
  • A fresh cut at Ascension in the new normal involves a mask for both client and barber
  • Ascension Barbers

The five barbers in Sackville and three in Wolfville also need to space out their appointments to allow enough time to clean workstations in between. (The regulations require 15 minutes between appointments.)

“It’s just enough time for you to be able to see who your next appointment is, do sanitation, provide the best service for your client,” says Upshaw.

Slowly, the barbers are getting through the list of overdue appointments and everyone is adjusting to the new way of doing things.

“It’s just our responsibility to sort of help the client adjust to a new way of booking, but once they get into it they seem to like it,” says Upshaw.

In downtown Halifax, Thumpers Salon owner Malcolm Norton says he made it through the shut-down by shifting the focus to his online store.

“We have a major online shop. I set this up seven years ago,” he says. At the time, his associates didn’t think it would fare well.

“People said to me, ‘Who’s buying shampoo online, Malcolm?” he laughs. But it paid off during the past few months: “We were one of the few salons in Canada that had an online shop, and we have exclusive lines,” Norton says.

Although Thumpers’ 12 stylists were laid off temporarily, Norton has brought them all back since the re-opening.

“We opened the morning of June 5 and we’ve been very busy, we’ve been booked solid. We’re booked solid for weeks ahead, too,” he tells The Coast.

The South Park Street salon usually has 22 chairs, allowing clients to move from one station to the next as they go from cut to colour to styling throughout their appointment. “We let eight chairs go, taken them out of the shop to give more space for physical distancing, and it’s actually working pretty well,” says Norton.

The salon and spa industry are regulated by the Cosmetology Association of Nova Scotia, which released similar regulations for re-opening. Norton says all salons are required to have membership, and the association is one of the few governing bodies that exist for the industry across the country.

“There’s only three left in Canada, the rest all went by the wayside years ago. So it’s just P.E.I., New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. he says. “And our guys were wonderful, they got us all the regulations from Dr. Strang and it’s been very good.”

Thumpers has put screens around their reception desk and has a limited number of two clients in the waiting room. Although it is interfering with walk-ins, Norton says the salon is finally getting into a rhythm: “I think as things have gone on it’s kind of become second-nature now,” he says.

Stylist Steph McNair says business at her shop, Maneland-Non Binary Beauty, has definitely been up since re-opening. “I’ve definitely had a large increase in customers, and probably about 25 percent new people,” McNair says.

Though she's the sole hairdresser at her Queen Street shop, McNair has taken on a new employee to help with admin work and ensuring new protocols. 

Steph McNair, owner of Manelad hair on Queen Street. - RACHEL MCGRATH
  • Steph McNair, owner of Manelad hair on Queen Street.
  • Rachel McGrath
“I took on an employee or a person to basically help me kind of keep the cleaning and disinfecting and the vibe of the salon flow,” she says. “So I have somebody that’s going along in between and making sure that that is all done, and so I can just focus on the guest and the haircut.”

Maneland only opened last year, but COVID-19 hasn’t taken the wind out of McNair's sails. She was ready to open right away on June 5 when the regulations allowed.

“I was, throughout the couple of months that I was closed, laying low, but watching and kind of paying attention to other salons around here but also in the States and stuff,” she says.

Upon re-opening, McNair says she’s gotten to have some fun with the shaggy styles that clients have grown out in isolation.

“Some are just working with the length that they’ve grown, some people are interested in what is happening on their head. Some people just kind of want to have it off,” she says.

Other clients have also had to change their hairstyles based on their new normal. “The masks are all different, and I have to cut some bangs a little bit shorter because of not being able to see as well with a mask on,” says McNair.
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Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Contact-free, locally made greeting cards for any occasion

Find $7 in your couch cushions and head to Alderney Landing or Scotia Square.

Posted By on Tue, Jun 9, 2020 at 4:08 PM

KEPT SHOP INSTAGRAM
  • KEPT SHOP INSTAGRAM
The pandemic has prevented a lot of things, but it hasn’t stopped time from moving forward. People are still celebrating marriages, birthdays, anniversaries, and welcoming new life into the world.

Handmade cards are one of the most sincere and affordable ways to let someone know you’re thinking of them—and one Dartmouth shop has been making its cards available even while it's closed by COVID.

“When the pandemic hit and we had to shut down, it was just like a bomb had gone off. We didn’t know what we were going to do,” says Sam Holt, co-owner of Kept Shop on King Street.

“We spent some time just talking it out and I guess I just wanted to answer the question of like, How can we bring Kept to our customers and to Halifax? How can we still make sales but not in a social setting?” he says.

Since 2013, Kept Shop has offered home décor and giftwares that range from elegant mugs and floral tea towels to children’s bibs, blankets and books. Holt, who owns the store with his wife Charlotte Jewer, says they spend a lot of time curating and selecting items that they’d want in their own home.

“It’s a seven-day-a-week job, we’re just constantly always sort of seeing what’s out there,” he says. “It’s got to be great quality. It’s not worth selling stuff that you wouldn’t want to have yourself.”

One part of the store that’s always drawn customers is the greeting card wall. “People love to come in and go to the card wall and take anywhere from two minutes to 20 minutes picking out cards for all the occasions,” Holt tells The Coast.

Holt—who has a background in design—was trying to think of ways to use technology and even artificial intelligence when he realized what he needed wasn't a new invention: It was a simple, old-fashioned vending machine.

“There’s a vending machine that already exists that, would perfectly fit greeting cards. So I researched some of the companies and I got in touch with a guy,” he said.

KEPT SHOP INSTAGRAM
  • KEPT SHOP INSTAGRAM
As it turned out, the vending machine company was having similar problems with sales dropping as public spaces weren’t being used as heavily. 

“All the places that he had his vending machines, people weren’t going. Hotels, university campuses. There was a big hole in his business, so he was keen to give it a try and really helpful,” Holt says.

Each card is $7 and the machine accepts coins only. Some are from local artists, including Halifax Paper Hearts and Kate Mitchell, while others are from Canadian or international artists.

The first vending machine was placed in Alderney Landing in early May, which coincided perfectly with Mother’s Day. A second machine was installed in Scotia Square last week, and Holt is hoping that with Father’s Day around the corner, the coming weeks will be just as successful.

“Everyone needs a Mother’s Day card, so we sold out of those. So this’ll be the next event,” he says.

Although the machine isn’t perfect—it’s old, sometimes it won’t accept certain coins—Holt says it’s a great opportunity to get the word out about Kept Shop and for people to get greeting cards without having to go into a store.

“We just wanted to maintain and have our brand still out there," he says. "Still let people know that we were there and we were there for them.” 
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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Last Word says goodbye

The final chapter for a Windsor Street institution.

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2020 at 4:08 PM

A sign inside The Last Word for a close-out sale that hasn't happened yet - VICTORIA WALTON
  • A sign inside The Last Word for a close-out sale that hasn't happened yet
  • Victoria Walton
For more than 20 years, The Last Word Bookstore on Windsor Street has provided stocked shelves for newcomers, north-enders, and bibliophiles alike.

“Lots of students, lots of regulars. they’d sort of just come in, plop down and they’d be there for eight hours,” says Nate Crawford, who used to work at the store about 10 years ago.

VICTORIA WALTON
  • Victoria Walton
In those days, the second-hand store had the very same laid-back vibe: “It was super casual. I worked Sundays, I lived on Moran street so I just would wander down here, sort of settle in,” Crawford says.

Crawford was one of several curious passersby found peering in the windows of the storefront on a Monday, after owner Wayne Greene put up a sign announcing the store would close.

“Wayne is like the O.G. classic Canadian bookseller,” Crawford tells The Coast. "He knows so much about literature, Canadian literature, special topics. He can talk a blue streak, he’s that kind of business person that is just sort of disappearing.”

Over the years, Crawford says the owner has become known for making small talk with anyone who comes through, and for his ability to know which books he had in stock, and exactly where they were amongst the piles of novels that filled The Last Word from floor to ceiling.
VICTORIA WALTON
  • Victoria Walton

“I asked him about one of my favourite books is called The Art of Racing in The Rain. He didn’t have it, but he knew about it. He just knows books, he knew exactly what I was talking about,” says Brie-anna Bartlett, who’s lived in the apartment above the bookstore since last fall.

Bartlett says she’s also sad to see the store go, as one of Halifax’s few remaining used bookstores. “I don’t think he did this for the money, he did it for the love,” she says.

Across social media, other Haligonians poured out their support for The Last Word and the unique charm of second-hand bookstores.

"I just love how the owner knew EVERY book in the shop, without needing to look it up in a database." - thenoblejobull, Instagram

"Every morning I left the house he would be sweeping the sidewalk. He cared for that place."
- kayrauch, Instagram

VICTORIA WALTON
  • Victoria Walton


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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Now's the time to look out for small business in Halifax

Social isolation is leading to layoffs and losses for some, unique opportunities for others

Posted By on Thu, Mar 19, 2020 at 1:00 AM

Moh Soliman, co-founder of Couryah delivery service, is seeing a big surge in business during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Moh Soliman, co-founder of Couryah delivery service, is seeing a big surge in business during the coronavirus pandemic.

A s coronavirus spreads across Canada, shutting down local businesses and national companies in its wake, Canadians are being forced into their homes and out of public places like restaurants and bars.

Hundreds if not thousands of small businesses and their employees are now struggling to make ends meet as their income is slashed.

"It's really stressful for the staff, stressful for us, stressful for the farmers, everybody's stressed," says Lil MacPherson, co-owner of The Wooden Monkey restaurants.

MacPherson says she opened the restaurant to encourage people to eat local, and sources from 12 to 16 local farmers and butchers at any given time. She says these local vendors are losing sales, and they're also the companies that most need support through times when income is precarious.

"We employ a lot of people, the small business sector," she says. "We are the worker bees of the hive, and without us, the hive starts to break down. So it is really important to the local economy."

Premier MacNeil announced all restaurants and bars must close to dine-in customers by March 19. The Wooden Monkey, like other restaurants, is still doing take-out—and offering 20 percent off to boost take-out sales.

"It's crazy times but we're all in this together, so hopefully we can get out of this together," she says.

But MacPherson also knows that businesses won't last long with dwindling sales. She's hoping the government announces measures to keep them on their feet. "We have these really amazing, talented people and farmers and bakers that are here, and we can't let them go out of business. We can't," she says.

In the meantime, other business owners have turned to delivery services to get food and drink orders to customers who don't feel comfortable leaving their homes.

As of Tuesday, Halifax-based delivery service Couryah is not only still delivering but has seen a massive uptick in sales.

"Orders have definitely increased in the past couple of days," says Couryah's head of marketing Basel Halaseh.

Due to the rush, even the company's co-founders, brothers Moh and Omar Soliman, are out making deliveries across Halifax and the surrounding areas.

"Most of our restaurants that we partner with are local, smaller restaurants rather than big chains," Halaseh says.

The company currently partners with 11 establishments and has been providing grocery delivery since last May.

Customers can pay online and get groceries delivered to their front door—a service now in the "spotlight" says Halaseh.

"We can just leave it at the door, give you a knock and minimize social contact as much as possible."

Although drivers are using increased caution and extra sanitizer, they still risk their health to deliver to those who need it. Halaseh says Couryah is trying to get the word out to immunocompromised people and seniors.

"That's an area that we kind of want to put out more awareness towards. On social media I want to get the word out there," he says. "We dropped off some flyers at some seniors homes, and we're looking at different options for how we're going to reach that demographic."

Halaseh says it's times like this that some local businesses can step up to be there for the rest of their community in ways that large corporations don't.

"In our community we see that our service can be a bit of a saviour for some people right now," he says. "So we definitely want to ramp up and try to serve as many people as possible."

Come back here or check with NS public health for the latest reliable updates. In the meantime, wash your hands, cover your cough, wipe commonly used surfaces and stay home if you feel sick.
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Thursday, March 12, 2020

Obsolete no longer

Agricola's favourite record retailer weathers the gentrifying strip's ups and downs

Posted By on Thu, Mar 12, 2020 at 9:51 AM

screen_shot_2018-09-05_at_8.54.58_am.png

After ten years on Agricola Street, Obsolete Records was booted from its ramshackle storefront last fall in the most anticlimactic way possible. “Someone was parking out back, and drove into some support beam,” says Obsolete owner Ian Fraser. “And the building’s owner decided to just tear it all down.” 

The news wasn’t a total surprise: plans were already afoot to build a five-storey apartment building on the site. The parking mishap was just the nail in the coffin. But though Obsolete has become a North End mainstay—with a selection skewing heavily to Fraser’s own tastes in indie rock, underground hip-hop, and other relatively niche genres and artists—the redevelopment nearly spelled its end. 

“I was in the same space for very close to a decade,” says Fraser, “and they never raised my rent. When I actually had to start looking, it was a shock to see how rent had gone up all around the neighbourhood.”

The relocation may have been a blessing in disguise, however. Brighter, cleaner and wheelchair-accessible, the new space, at 2855 Agricola Street, is also the first to be occupied in a new block of storefronts that aims to draw Agricola foot traffic farther north. And, says Fraser, “it feels like a real store, not an afterthought kind of space.”

Obsolete occupied the first of a two-phase development, and Fraser says a cafe is planned to open beside his story in the spring or summer. “It looks like this is going to turn into a great little niche area,” says Fraser, “a new little hub of commerce.”

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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The royal flush

For only $450 you can crap like a king/queen.

Posted By on Wed, Mar 11, 2020 at 2:34 PM

shop.png

If you've recently been on Halifax Kijiji you may have seen this odd listing: "Gold imported toilets 4 left!!!"

The popular ad, which was recently removed from the website, displayed a white-and-gold, floral-patterned throne—a far cry from the stark white pots us lowly peasants are wont to piss in.

Each toilet, according to the seller, is valued at $1,200 regular price, comes with "wax ring, flush," is in an unopened box and is "extremely rare." But, a Google search for "gold toilets" reveals these lustrous loos may not be as "rare"—or expensive—as the ad suggested.

On Alibaba.com, identical fancy flushers can be yours for $85 to $220 USD ($113-$294 CAD), a fraction of the Kijiji asking price. According to the website, the dual-flushing toilets are manufactured in China by Foshan Haiyijia Co., Ltd. and are only gold-painted ceramic—not real gold. If you were excited about giving your butt a real gold crown, think again.

Gazing at the toilet (pictured, right) long enough, you might think, wait, I've seen these before. That's because identical toilets are installed at Garden Food Bar & Lounge on Clyde Street downtown. It's there that you can try the full, luxury experience—sort of. The shiny, gold seats are actually made of hard, gold-coloured plastic. And like most public washrooms, they're in need of a clean.

If you're looking for a real, solid-gold toilet, you're shit out of luck. Actual gold toilets are reserved for the elite. Consider "America," an 18-karat, fully-functioning, solid-gold toilet installation by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, which was stolen last year from Britain's Blenheim Palace (Winston Churchill's birthplace).

Sadly, many of us can't live like Churchill—or anywhere in HRM for that matter (see: one percent rental-vacancy rate). But if you want to spice up your drab bathroom, or you want to give yourself a false sense of wealth and importance, these faux-gold toilets may be the answer.

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Thursday, March 5, 2020

How to win at auctions, both online and irl

No bids, no glory: Five shopping tips to make the most of your auction experience.

Posted By on Thu, Mar 5, 2020 at 1:00 AM

There’s a lot to see at an auction, like the one above at the Halifax Forum, so Melanie Mather of Lo + Behold says it’s important to stay focused. - IAN SELIG
  • There’s a lot to see at an auction, like the one above at the Halifax Forum, so Melanie Mather of Lo + Behold says it’s important to stay focused.
  • IAN SELIG

Nova Scotia may not attract attention from high-end auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s, but local firm Crowther & Brayley runs good auctions in hockey arenas (the next is March 21). And the world of online auctions is accessible from your phone. But just because any amateur can make a bid, doesn’t mean there aren’t lessons to learn.

Melanie and Bob Mather run Lo + Behold, an online auction house and vintage shop near Peggys Cove that specializes in selling retro-chic collectors items, vintage toys, signs and other rare and unique odds and ends. Here are Melanie’s tips for making the best bid, both online and irl.

You'll be floored by some of the bargains on rugs avaialble at auction—just don't go over your spending ceiling. - IAN SELIG
  • You'll be floored by some of the bargains on rugs avaialble at auction—just don't go over your spending ceiling.
  • IAN SELIG

Cap your spending limit

It's easy to get sucked in at an auction when the frantic bidding wars begin—and rest assured, the price will always go up, never down. Treat it like gambling, and know when to fold 'em. "Definitely set the number, write it down," says Mather. "Then you can go back and say, 'here's my list, here is my agenda of how I'm going to bid on this.'"


Know the costs

Search functionality differs between online and offline auctions. - IAN SELIG
  • Search functionality differs between online and offline auctions.
  • IAN SELIG

"Not everybody realizes there are two fees typically involved," says Mather. She insists online bidders should do their research and factor in provincial tax. There is also a "buyer's premium" charge that will cover administrative and packaging costs. While Lo + Behold charges 15 percent, it can vary with other auctioneers. "Make sure you know what the fine print is, and make sure you're aware how the process works."


Ask questions

At live auctions, potential buyers can physically inspect items, but there are opportunities to obtain important information online as well. "A lot of auction houses have multiple channels of contact," says Mather, who often answers questions from would-be bidders through social media. "Be sure to look at descriptions and measurements."


Timing is everything

Patience can pay off in "unbelievable deals" according to online auctioneer Melanie Mather. - IAN SELIG
  • Patience can pay off in "unbelievable deals" according to online auctioneer Melanie Mather.
  • IAN SELIG

Sure, patience is a virtue. But it can also nab you a hell of a bargain at auctions! "Usually if you stick it out to the end, you'll get unbelievable deals," insists Mather. "Because you're the only one there bidding, you can get entire tables of stuff for a buck."


No regrets

After you do make that bid, don't fret about whether you have overpaid for an item. Relax. Enjoy the experience and your new acquisition. "I truly believe the market tells you exactly what the value is," says Mather. "It's a tricky dance, [but] whatever an item sells for is what it's worth."

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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Coming clean about cosmetics with Toxic Beauty

How to detox your morning routine from the chemical-laden products you use daily.

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2020 at 1:00 AM

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Filmmaker Phyllis Ellis hopes to send you scrambling to the shower to search out labels on your soap and shampoo. After all, her eye-opening documentary Toxic Beauty (trailer below; streaming now on CBC Gem) not only follows the class-action suit against Johnson & Johnson—and the company's cancer-linked baby powder—but Ellis also uncovers an unregulated amalgam of alarming toxicity in many over-the-counter personal-care products.

"I don't think the onus should be on the consumer to decipher a label with a word that has 750 letters," says the filmmaker. "I do think, keep it simple."

Here, we round up some of the worst offenders in your morning routine and drop local, non-toxic alternatives worth considering.

Shampoo

May contain: formaldehyde (DMDM Hydantoin), endocrine disruptors
Linked to: allergies, depression, cancer

"If you look on a label and see the word 'fragrance' or 'parfum,' don't use it," insists Ellis of most shampoos. "Fragrance in a product is proprietary so the company that makes that brand does not have to disclose what's in that word (which) can contain 200 to 1,000 chemicals."

That means the best way to make all days good hair days is to switch to a shampoo bar, like the Daytona Shampoo Bar available through eco-beauty and zero-waste haven The Tare Shop (5539 Cornwallis Street). The Daytona bar is SLS-, paraben- and phthalate-free and gets your 'do clean without stripping it of its natural oils.


Deodorant

May contain: endocrine disruptors, formaldehyde
Linked to: reproductive issues, tumours, hormone disruption

"When we had the film screen in London, [breast cancer researcher] doctor Philippa Darbre told the audience 'I would not let anyone I love use deodorant,'" says Ellis.

Maybe it's time to give your drug store tube a break and go for an aluminum- and phthalate-free option, like Earth Elements Natural Deodorant. The company, a Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market staple, is big into proving clean and green aren't in opposition, with an extensive range of body powder, soaps and home cleaning agents stocked alongside deodorant in scents like lemon grass and French lavender.


Nail polish

May contain: toluene, acetone
Linked to: dermatitis, lung disorders, miscarriage

Toluene "is linked to birth defects and all kinds of problems," says Ellis. "Anything that adheres for an extended period of time can't be awesome."

Water-based polish has long been the secret to a fresh mani amongst the hippie set, but formula improvements mean natural polish has more staying power than you'd think. Score a perfect 10 with options free of ethyl acetate, butyl acetate and acetone, like Acquarella nail polish. Find it at the natural-focused spa Bradshaw Pure Esthetics (1556 Queen Street) which, FYI, is a space that's also stocked with 100 percent organic facial masks and serums made in-house.


Face cream

May contain: endocrine disruptors, mercury, coal tar
Linked to: cognitive dysfunction, tremors, insomnia

"Anything that lightens your skin has mercury," says Ellis. "And a lot of eye products have coal tar."

Make sure you're keeping your complexion safe by opting for a plant-based option, like Osha Mae's carrot cream. Derived from carrot seed and brimming with essential oils, it's a skin softener that'll still help address aging skin concerns thanks to heavyweight ingredients like argan oil and squalene—ingredients that made skincare giant The Ordinary Company go viral. Hit up Osha Mae at the Seaport Market.

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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Hair love for Halifax

Halifax's natural-haircare community sets the records straight on the art, science and history of braiding

Posted By on Thu, Feb 13, 2020 at 9:45 AM

Nadine Sparks, owner of Unity Hair & Esthetics, will showcase looks at the event. - SUBMITTED
  • Nadine Sparks, owner of Unity Hair & Esthetics, will showcase looks at the event.
  • Submitted

The Braid Couture Art Show
Feb 15, 8 pm
Bus Stop Theatre, 2203 Gottingen Street)
braidcoutureshow.com
$35-$45


From ombré hair to pastel colours, hair trends come and go. But braids, from cornrows to the French variety, have long been a hairstyle staple across cultures.

Tara Lynn Taylor is organizer of the Braid Couture Art Show, happening this Saturday at the Bus Stop Theatre (2203 Gottingen Street) and she wants to broaden everyone’s understanding of braiding and textured haircare. “It’s for us,” she says of the event, “but it’s also for non-Black people, so they can see we have our own versatility, we don’t need to look like them.” 

She hopes the event will shed light on the intricate details of textured hair, such as the importance of understanding porosity and density. “There’s a science to it,” says Taylor. “My products are designed in a way that takes the guesswork out of it.”

Taylor is also the owner of Carmalina Naturals, a Halifax-based company that sells natural-haircare products. Along with P3 Hair and Beauty Supplies, she’ll be selling natural haircare products in the venue lobby.

Stylist and creator of Braids By Tasha, Natasha Stephenson, will be braiding on Saturday night along with with her 12-year-old daughter, Na’siya. Stephenson believes the event will encourage more people to get educated about different types of hair and hairstyles.

Stephenson says she’d like the Cosmetology Association of Nova Scotia to place more emphasis on braiding. “It's not only Black folk that can braid,” she says. “There’s white people, there’s Asian people that may want to learn or already know how to do it. Taylor even points out that white parents of bi-racial children may benefit from better understanding how to care for their kids’ hair.

This show will also showcase local fashion designers, such as clothing by Hilary Taylor Sears, Hologram Designs and purses and bags by Jaziel Ugbebor. There will also be theatrical, musical and dance performances.

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Tool time

The Good Neighbour makes for an easy way to swap tools with friends and neighbours

Posted By on Thu, Feb 13, 2020 at 9:31 AM

SUPPLIED
  • Supplied

The app-based sharing economy has produced no shortage of bizarre and terrible business ideas. Ever hear of Leftover Swap, the short-lived San Francisco startup that aimed to reduce food waste by letting users sell yesterday’s clammy noodles to nearby strangers? Didn’t think so.

But Alberta electrician David Thiessen is out to prove there’s life in the sharing economy yet with The Good Neighbour. With nearly 10,000 users in four western Canadian cities, the tool-sharing app—which allows users to rent tools from nearby users and offer their own on the platform—made its east-coast debut last month. It already has more than 650 users locally, offering everything from reciprocating saws ($10 a day) to cement mixers ($19) to step ladders ($11.29).

According to Thiessen, Halifax is just the right fit: a mid-sized city with a DIY spirit and close-knit neighbourhoods, making for lots of tools in close proximity (so far, most of the users are on or near the Halifax peninsula). Halifax already sports the well-loved Halifax Tool Library (3115 Veith Street), proving that the demand is already there. So if your tool collection consists of little more than a drawer full of old Allen keys, look for The Good Neighbour on Google Play, Apple’s App Store or at its website.

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Hair love for Halifax

Halifax’s braiding and natural-haircare community sets the record straight on the art, science and history of braids

Posted By on Thu, Feb 13, 2020 at 1:00 AM

Nadine Sparks, owner of Unity Hair & Esthetics, will showcase looks at the event. - SUBMITTED
  • Nadine Sparks, owner of Unity Hair & Esthetics, will showcase looks at the event.
  • SUBMITTED

The Braid Couture Art Show
Feb 15, 8pm
Bus Stop Theatre, 2203 Gottingen Street
braidcoutureshow.com
$35-$45


From ombré hair to pastel colours, hair trends come and go. But braids, from cornrows to the French variety, have long been a hairstyle staple across cultures.

Tara Lynn Taylor is organizer of the Braid Couture Art Show, happening this Saturday at the Bus Stop Theatre, and she wants to broaden everyone's understanding of braiding and textured haircare. "It's for us," she says of the event, "but it's also for non-Black people, so they can see we have our own versatility, we don't need to look like them."

She hopes the event will shed light on the intricate details of textured hair, such as the importance of understanding porosity and density. "There's a science to it," says Taylor. "My products are designed in a way that takes the guesswork out of it."

Taylor is also the owner of Carmalina Naturals, a Halifax-based company that sells natural-haircare products. Along with P3 Hair and Beauty Supplies, she'll be selling natural haircare products in the venue lobby.

Hair stylist and creator of Braids By Tasha, Natasha Stephenson, will be braiding on Saturday night along with with her 12-year-old daughter, Na'siya. Stephenson believes the event will encourage people to get educated about different types of hair and hairstyles.

Stephenson says she'd like the Cosmetology Association of Nova Scotia to place more emphasis on braiding. "It's not only Black folk that can braid," she says. "There's white people, there's Asian people that may want to learn or already know how to do it. Taylor even points out that white parents of bi-racial children may benefit from better understanding how to care for their kids' hair.

This show will also showcase local fashion designers, such as clothing by Hilary Taylor Sears, Hologram Designs and purses and bags by Jaziel Ugbebor. There will also be theatrical, musical and dance performances.

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Thursday, February 6, 2020

LOCAL By Local Girl explores what "made here" means

The conceptual, art-fashion project is stylish wherever it calls home.

Posted By on Thu, Feb 6, 2020 at 1:00 AM

LOCAL by Local Girl designer Anita Joh sporting some of her wearable art. - TYLERPENGELLY
  • LOCAL by Local Girl designer Anita Joh sporting some of her wearable art.
  • tylerpengelly

LOCAL By Local Girl
To Feb 8
Anna Leonowens Gallery, 1891 Granville Street

W hat does "local" mean, anyway? NSCAD student Anita Joh's artistic persona (and "conceptual brand") LOCAL by Local Girl is an attempt to dig into that question through a series of pop-ups, installations and social-media engagements. The brand includes everyday functional objects, from wearable art pieces like t-shirts and bags to printed matter and book arts.

An institutional setting is new for Joh, however. That makes her grad exhibit, running until Saturday at the Anna Leonowens Gallery, a new experience: "I'm bringing it to the gallery space, which creates a different context," she says. "Everything else has been me popping up in an urban space that I found myself." (Explaining the streetwear vibes that permeate Joh's work.)

The exhibit involves taking gallery posters and invitations, turning them into art pieces themselves. The result? A deeply instagrammable aesthetic that's slick as lipgloss, with Joh sharing a micro-collection that carries an Off-White energy and features mini handbags that read like an edgier take on trendy French designer Jacquemus' micro-accessory.

It is, alongside being a breakdown on what local connections means, a reminder that high fashion and high art have always been RSVPing yes to the same party.

Originally from Vancouver, Joh has lived in Halifax for four years. She associates home with experience, people, community and connections. "You can be local to many places at once, it is okay to bend and adapt that definition to whatever works for you. We all want a sense of belonging and a home but that doesn't have to be geographical or physical, it can be found emotionally and mentally through people," she says.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The skin you're in

Building body positivity through body art

Posted By on Wed, Feb 5, 2020 at 2:33 PM

A few of the designs from Outlaw Country Tattoo's flash-tattoo event in support of Eating Disorders Nova Scotia - EMERSON ROACH
  • A few of the designs from Outlaw Country Tattoo's flash-tattoo event in support of Eating Disorders Nova Scotia
  • Emerson Roach

Outlaw Country Tattoo will join forces with Eating Disorders Nova Scotia (EDNS) to transform Haligonian’s bodies into safe havens during a flash tattoo event this Thursday. From 1pm to 6pm at Outlaw (6103 North Street), artist Emerson Roach will tattoo customers with pre-designed, body-positivity-themed tattoos, ranging from $80-$130. 50 percent of proceeds will go to Eating Disorders Nova Scotia.

The event will be held in support of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDA), with 50 percent of proceeds going to Eating Disorders Nova Scotia. 

“I think especially for queer and trans folks, tattooing can be a way to feel more at home in the skin that you're in,” says Roach. “Every time you get a new tattoo, it's like you're painting the walls of a house that you were given. You don't get to control what the house looks like, and it might not always feel like home, but every time you get a tattoo it's like you're painting those walls into a new one.”

According to EDNS, almost one in 10 people will experience an eating disorder during their lifetime, according to the U.S. National Eating Disorders Association, 42 percent of men with eating disorders identify as gay. But statistics are still limited on eating disorders among trans and non-binary people, and Roach is hoping to help break through stereotypes through this event.

Thursday’s event has already filled up, but there’s still plenty of flash-tattoo fun to be had—Outlaw will be doing a Valentine’s-themed flash event from noon to 6pm on February 14, first-come, first-served. Lineups are expected, so don’t dawdle.

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In Print This Week

Vol 28, No 1
July 9, 2020

Cover Gallery »


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