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Au natural

Megan Wennberg browses for business news.


Melanie Butler is the new owner of …To Relax You at 101 Portland in Dartmouth, taking over from Hilary Todd. Under Butler’s ownership the consignment shop, featuring handmade works by local artists, will be open from Monday through Saturday, 9:30am-6pm. The store will also change names, and Butler is hoping for Handmade from the Heart to be re-branded by Christmas time. “One of the big new changes is going to be the name change,” says Butler, “and now we’re specializing in natural bath and beauty products. It’s something that I’ve always been interested in and I find that there are a lot of people now who are really interested in getting things that are all-natural and from the earth…. When you’re buying a bottle of shampoo or a bar of soap, you never really know exactly what’s in it, this way you know exactly what you’re putting on your skin at all times.” The shop will also continue to sell a range of works by 20 different local artists, including pottery, photography, handpainted glass, woodworking, paintings, preserves and handmade gift baskets. “We can get custom-made, all-natural anything, that’s handmade and that we sell in the store,” says Butler.

Changing spaces

Norman Flynn Designs at 2063 Gottingen is moving to 2698 Agricola, in the former home of Statement Design (more on their move below). “We purchased the building, we like the area, and over the last couple of years our business has grown and we needed the space,” says Norman Flynn co-owner Blair Flynn. “This building is going to provide that need for us.” Norman Flynn Design is in its third year, and operates both as a paint shop and interior design firm—co-owner Bruce Norman provides design services for residential and commercial clients. The business will re-open on Agricola on September 5.

Making a (new) statement

As mentioned above, Statement Design is also moving to 2534 Agricola, “just down the street to a bigger location so we’re very excited,” says sales associate and designer Annette Mahoney. “We’re just growing, we’re coming up on our third anniversary and we’re just expanding and meeting customer demands and all that good stuff,” she says. “We’re taking on a few new lines. We carry a lot of Canadian-made—which we’re very proud of—and a lot of local artists as well.” Statement Design (owned by Ray Frizzell) also offers decorative consulting and organizing services.

Handy woman, craft carnival

Hilary Dennis has started a new business offering handmade screen-printed stationary sets. Dennis, a recent NSCAD textiles grad, is currently printing small (10 to 15) editions of her nearly 20 designs. “I really enjoy making small, precious things that people will use and that are functional,” says Dennis. “I think the great thing about paper and stationary is that someone buys it because they like it and add their work to it and then they send it to someone else, and you know it’s always a great thing to get mail—it’s a little gift that gets sent around and that actually gets used. It’s pretty immediate and affordable.” Dennis’ work is available for sale online at her website (, occasionally at the Farmer’s Market, and this weekend only at the Midsummer Craft Carnival at the Khyber Centre for the Arts at 1588 Barrington. Dennis is one of the organizers of the Carnival, which will take over the main floor of the Khyber on Friday from 1am-6pm and Saturday from 11am-5pm. The Midsummer Craft Carnival will feature more than 16 different local artists, and will offer works including printed posters, re-designed tshirts, glass jewellery, appliqued buttons and pins, zines, purses and Dennis’s stationary.

Not fit for the pit

Shop Talk was saddened to learn of the cancellation of CBC’s youth-oriented consumer affairs show Street Cents, announced last Friday. The Halifax-produced show offered product comparisons and entertaining analysis on consumer goods and issues of interest to youth, like Behind the Hype: The Dove Beauty Campaign, and Street Test: Portable Photo Printers. “I think it was a show that a lot of kids grew up with and who were very loyal to it and I think it served them well for 17 years,” says executive producer Babara Kennedy. “I think it was a useful show, and I think that maybe some kids were empowered by it, and the quality stayed good over 17 years, it didn’t ever go down, so we’re all very proud of it.”

Pitcher of suds

Mike Smith (AKA Bubbles of Trailer Park Boys) and former Molson sales rep Jeff Thompson are opening a new pub in the former home Pitchman’s at the corner of Market and Prince St. Bubbles’ Mansion is set to open this fall, and according to, the bar will undergo major renovations between now and then. We’ll keep you updated.

Coming soon

Bright, a new NSCAD-run jewellery store, presumably to feature the works of students, will open this fall in the Granville Mall area. ... A formerly decrepit storefront at the corner of Morris and Hollis has been completely renovated and is rumoured to be opening as a coffee shop or bar. More on both soon....

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