Go Local: South End

If you venture below Morris Street, you're in for a big surprise.

From fashion boutiques to Asian groceries to international restos to bookstores to florists, you’ll find more shopping variety than you can shake a stylish fedora at. On one unseasonably warm Friday afternoon, Shoptalk took a stroll through the tony southern portion of downtown and we liked what we found.

50 Hats
1086 Queen Street, 482-4287
For 13 years, owner Carol Cassidy has been offering new hats along with previously loved jackets and coats, footwear, jewellery, scarves and collectables at her Queen Street store, just next to computer experts Greenlyph. She’s still a one-person operation, open Tuesday-Saturday, though can be found there other times by appointment. Tell her what you’re looking for and she’ll hook you up.


Allie’s Boutique
1144 Barrington Street, 420-1070
Owner Allie Fineberg reports that brand new in the store are more than 75 handbags and 40 scarves, all in from New York. She’s finding that since she buys directly from the suppliers in the Big Apple, she’s not only getting these chic items as they’re appearing on shelves in Manhattan, she’s able to offer them at cheaper prices.


Atlantic News
5560 Morris Street, 429-5468
The stalwart periodical, gift card and newspaper outlet has seen a bump in its business since The Daily Grind got out of magazines---the Grind is moving into a space above Mills as a cafe only. Plus, the depth and breadth of the magazine selection here is drawing customers from away. “A guy who comes in who travels from Toronto says he gets titles here he can’t find there,” says owner Michelle Gerard. New on the racks is the English edition of French paper Le Monde diplomatique.

Fenwick Flowers
5560 Fenwick Street, 425-3423
Sandwiched in between the quality Lebanese cuisine of Tarboosh and Darrell’s---home of the new Hen Den Burger---is a delightful florist, one of three Blossom Shop businesses in the area, including one in Windsor and one on 668 Sackville Drive, 865-9040. Owned by Penny Paylor, the three stores offer a range of flowers including birds of paradise, roses, lilies and irises, in a range of colours. She says that it’s a struggle to find locally grown products---though people are now asking for it---but will offer PEI tulips in the new year.

Halifax Seaport Market
Pier 22, 1209 Marginal Road, 429-6256
As Shoptalk reported recently, a new international market is starting up Fridays at the Seaport Market, but that’s only a part of the story. Here where the south end meets the waterfront, you’ll find that the Friday market also includes a number of vendors from Saturday’s traditional market that will also be down there on Sundays effective immediately. And as of November 17, the Wednesday Farmers’ Market has launched, with the opening hours 8am to 4pm. Market hours going forward are Friday 10am-7pm, Saturday 7am-4pm and Sunday 8am-4pm.


Jonathan Neil Salon
1094 Queen Street, 492-3962
The bright and lovely salon space offers tanning, hair styling, colour and makeup artistry---with seniors getting a 15 percent discount on all hair services---as well as a large selection of beauty and hair products, including those from Redken. Oh, and keep in mind the holiday shopping party, happening November 27 from 5pm-9pm, offering refreshments and 20 percent off all retail and gift cards, as well as a bundle of beauty product gift packs and stocking stuffers.


Morris East
5212 Morris Street, 444-7663
Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with all the cool stuff going on down at gourmet pizza joint Morris East. Where to start? How about office parties? They’re booking now for the holidays. How about the continually changing items on the menu? Or what about the brand new tax-free product line? The housemade chili oil ($12), raspberry daiquiri mix ($14) and tomato sauce ($7) all use local ingredients. Generally closed Mondays, the resto is offering exclusive opening Monday nights for holiday or office parties. And through December, they will offer reservations on a table in the window for groups of four to six. “Everyone at Morris East is really looking forward to the Christmas period. We’re covering all the bases,” says owner Jennie Dobbs.

Tomavino’s Cellar Ristorante
5173 South Street, 425-7111
The big news this year was the fire that closed the business---along with Taj Mahal upstairs---for the first part of the year. Everything’s been open again since July, following lots of renovations to undo the water damage. Owner Kevin Caldwell reports the front foyer, floors and walls are all new, but the vibe in the intimate dining room and on the menu is very much the same. “We kept a lot of the favourites” on the menu, he says---including the popular pizza choices The Ambrosia, The Pizza Bella and The Montrealer---while introducing new things from time to time, including weekly specials dependent on what’s available at the nearby Seaport Market.


Uncommon Group
1030 South Park Street, 421-6079
Cape Breton native Gordon Stevens is the big cheese behind the Uncommon Group, a local business with a multi-pronged presence in the city, especially in the south end. From his first venture, the coffee house Uncommon Grounds (1030 South Park Street, 404-3101 and also 1237 Barrington Street, 404-3117) to Rum Runners Rum Cake Factory and Sugah! (1479 Lower Water Street, 421-6079), Carbonstok (1235 Barrington Street, 404-7288) and Uncommon Kids (1030 South Park Street, 431-8543), Uncommon Group has seen its fortunes grow.


Stevens says the biggest challenge he faces as a business owner is fighting an existing inertia in the business community, but he finds customers are hungry for new approaches. “If you want to just go with the flow and open a business and not really challenge things you end up being the same as everyone else,” he says. “Whether it’s the branding of the design of the store to the products, once you do that once the hesitation isn’t there the next time. What allowed us to be unique on the first one gives us the gumption to do it over and over again.”


Stevens’ is working to create original products for Carbonstok. “People come in and expect you to be selling local products, while artisans are out selling their product direct. What we’re trying to do now is create a line of things, partnering with designers, almost a souvenir kind of thing, but break the mould of what people think of when they think of souvenirs.”

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