Agricola Street is many things to many people. Cyclists love it because the traffic tends to be less hectic for a north end journey than Windsor, Robie or Gottingen. Smart drivers love it for the same reason. And pedestrians and locals love it for the plenty of shops, cafes and other diversions: antique stores, art galleries, furniture stores, barbers and even a brewery. It’s a collection of neighbourhoods connected in a more-or-less straight line. Go for a stroll and see what you find. It’s what we did.
Super Natural and Humani-T Café
5755 Young Street, 454-9999
For over a month, the cafe has been a functioning unit, with dark-wood chairs, comfy couches, a fountain beneath the stairs and a fireplace in the corner for colder days. “It’s never complete, we’re constantly working,” says cafe owner Nemat Sobhani who, over the past year, transformed the vitamins and supplements store into a health food deli while still keeping many of the products that Super Natural was originally known for. The deli food is delish, with plenty of fair trade and organic loose teas and coffee, and grub for the discerning vegetarian or vegan, including gluten-free, organic soup. “Everything is made from scratch,” says Sobhani. That includes delicious sandwiches, wraps, sorbeto and gelato, with bread and pastries from Boulangerie la Vendeenne. In the future, there will be an upstairs eating area as well, but for the time being you can sit and enjoy a meal on the ground floor, with free wifi for your laptop.
Frame Plus Art
2705 Agricola Street, 455-9762
A family business for 12 years on Agricola, Frame Plus Art does everything you need for pictures, paintings, photos and prints. That includes, of course, custom framing, as well as plaque mounting, canvas transferring and special ordering of prints. “We’re in the process of upgrading,” explains framer Kyla Williams. “We’re bringing in a station for customers to look for prints online.” Another lovely feature of the store is a long-haired orange cat, Chloe, often found lounging on tabletops. There’s a second one, Picasso, though he tends to keep to himself.
FRED. Beauty Food Art. And Whet Café
2606 Agricola Street, 423-5400
As usual, Fred Connors is full of news about his popular and busy cafe/gallery/salon. He starts with the fresh new menu items--including the popular granola you can take away---the produce of two gardens, his original place on the South Shore and the new “small plot intensive farm” on Bloomfield Street. Customers have been enjoying the eggs produced by chickens there, though Connors recently received a “cease and desist” warning from the city about that practice, given the urban chicken bylaw. On the salon side, Connors says that people are starting to re-invest in the kinds of things that they spent money on pre-recession, including full-service bridal packages and beauty products. As an events space, FRED is booking now for the fall.
DeMones Barber Shop
3078 Agricola Street at DeMone Street, 444-3366
Started 83 years ago by Earle DeMone, this is the oldest barber shop in Halifax. DeMone has passed on, but the street on which his store still sits is named after him now. His partner, Jim Shea, sold the business to Steve Muise and John Stickney a couple of years back. “I wanted to be my own boss,” says Stickney, who used to ply his trade out of a shop in Spryfield before buying this historic space, which inside feels like a well-kept antique, complete with multiple mirrors, wood panelling, a standing sink right in mid-floor and many photos and certificates, with the fans drowning out the sound of a wall-mounted TV. For $12 you can have any kind of haircut, “military haircuts, fades and flattops, old school as well as new,” says Stickney. Face shaves are by appointment, and are done with a straight razor, just like the old days. Stickney had one piece of sad news to report: the shop’s oldest customer, John Sinclair Darrach, born August 29, 1908, died about a month ago at 101. He had been a customer at the shop since the beginning.
Finer Things Antiques
2797 Agricola Street, 456-1412
Starting September 1, the longtime antique destination at the corner of Agricola and Almon is starting a couple of extra dealers in the shop, including someone who specializes in vintage tools. Beyond that, the store is finding retro furniture is a hot area---Danish design and modern stuff from the 1960s. And vinyl continues to be one of the areas that does well for Finer Things, along with the equipment on which to play those records: tuners, receivers, turntables and speakers.
Gus’ Pub and Grill
2605 Agricola Street, 423-7786
Gus’ owner Dimo Georgakakos has a few things to tell us about his business, Halifax’s stalwart supporter of indie and punk music, the first being that despite the recent tax hikes, “we’re keeping our prices steady.” Tuesday nights have become the de facto Dance Night at Gus,’ with a rotating crew of DJs pumping out Motown, retro ’80s, ’90s and everything that shakes hips in between. You’ll continue to get your sides split at Monday’s comedy night, and an infusion of new music with live bands performing the rest of the week.
2534 Agricola Street, 455-0442
“Fine Home Furnishings” is what Statement offers in its Creative Crossing location at Charles and Agricola. Just wandering around the store, with all that exposed brick and wood, is calming. Inside, you’ll find multi-functional furniture for small-space living, such as an Italian-made coffee table that folds out and raises into a dining room table like some kind of home furnishings Transformer. Couches have armrests that become end tables and ottomans. They also do mirrors, beds, light fixtures and more, along with complimentary home consultations if you purchase an item in the store. Check out their recently updated website at statement.ca.
2454 Agricola Street, 407-7228
“Things are going really well,” says owner and music/movie expert Ian Fraser about his store, now seeing six weeks in the rearview. “People in the area are super-enthused that I’m even here.” He offers a high quality selection of music and movies on a variety of formats. Popular are the local releases, including material from Cold Warps, Dog Day’s Seth Smith and Bad Vibrations. Also flying off the shelves are new albums from Sun Kil Moon, M.I.A and LCD Soundsystem. DVD sales are “going a bit slower” says Fraser, since he sources those from a single supplier’s warehouse, while music comes from multiple sources. That said, discerning movie buffs should stop in to see the key Criterion Collection selections he has in-house.