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Pets before people

T.C. Demaresq browses for business news.


A new pet store called Willow’s opened December 7 on Dresden Row across from Pete’s Frootique. The store is owned and operated by mother and daughter team Sheila and Kyra Foster, and is an extension of their previous business, Paws & Play, a pet daycare on Quinpool. Willow’s offers a wide range of pet-pleasing products, from food, bedding and leashes to toys, booties and hand-painted pet portraits. “The food that we’re bringing in is all-natural, human-grade quality,” says Kyra. “I’m not going to bring in anything that I wouldn’t feed my two dogs or cat.” The Fosters are equally concerned about the quality of Willow’s non-food products, and Kyra says they make a special effort to buy Canadian-made products whenever possible, with an emphasis on Nova Scotian producers. Willow’s ultimate philosophy, however, is to serve pets first and foremost. “We’re here to improve the quality of life for your animal, whether it’s for nutrition, safety, entertainment, comfort or fun,” says Kyra. “It’s all about the animals. We’ve got some stuff for people too, but you’re second. Your animal’s first.”

Movie machine

Montreal-based video rental chain Nikovideo is set to open its first store in Halifax this week in the former home of Spinney’s convenience store, next to Sicilian Pizza on Quinpool. The chain started in Quebec a year ago, but is growing quickly and plans to open 32 locations in Atlantic Canada this year. Gilles Essiembre, owner of two Nikovideos in Moncton as well as the Quinpool location and the chain’s future store in Clayton Park, says clients are responding well to the company’s renting style. “It’s an automated DVD rental service,” says Essiembre. “It’s just like going to a Blockbuster or Rogers except that it’s an automated machine. It kinda works exactly like an ATM.” In short, clients get a membership card, browse the store’s movie inventory (either online at or at terminals in the store), select the movie they want, click to reserve it, and then have three hours to pick it up. “When you get to the store the only thing you need to do is swipe the pick-up area with your card and within 10 seconds you’ve got your movie, and you’re out the door in 20 seconds,” says Essiembre. “You don’t have to wait in line.” Returns work in much the same way, except clients “deposit” rather than “withdraw” movies. All movies are charged to the clients’ (prepaid) membership cards, on a sliding scale based on how long they were out.

Taste of Tennessee

Phillip and Cathy Levangie of DECO and Cellar Restaurants Group plan to expand the business hours of DECO’s downstairs cafe with a new nighttime BBQ rib menu, starting in mid-January. “One day our chef and my husband were talking about ribs and they were saying ‘gee, there’s not really a good rib restaurant in this city,’ there’s lots of people that sell them, but nobody that’s doing specialties,” says Cathy. DECO’s ribs will pay tribute to traditional recipes, involving a full-day process whereby ribs are brined, marinated and slow-cooked. “It’s a southern state-style kind of thing versus throw them on a grill and slap Kraft BBQ sauce on them,” says Cathy. “And that’s what makes them really tender, fall-off-the-bone.” The ribs will give off an enticing aroma that the Levangies hope will lure people in from the streets at night, and hopefully not offend early morning coffee drinkers. “I think it’s all just food smells and that’s fine,” says Cathy. “They all just sort of work together.”

Spring has sprung

Spring Health Ltd. is now open at the corner of University and Tower. The centre offers a range of health services from a fitness centre and whole foods cafe to massage and physiotherapy. No one at Spring was available to answer questions, but the website ( says the centre was “born of our own pursuit to empower the people in our community to not only engage in a life of health and happiness, but to extend it… At Spring, you will enter a world that aligns all aspects of health and well-being with kinetic mobility.”

Cinnamon hats

Mary Mohammed of Mary’s Bread Basket in the Brewery Market is continuing her tradition of selling warm hats for the winter months. Mary’s hats are for sale to the right of the Bread Basket counter, and promise to keep you nice and warm, just like her famous cinnamon buns. The hats are double-knitted with 100 percent wool and mohair and come with earflaps. Mary makes the hats herself, and started selling them because “they’re nice and cozy and they’re really a great one for the winter. They’re really toasty warm.”

This ’n’ that

U-Haul has moved from 2128 Gottingen to 5280 Green in the south end. Employees say the new location has more room for parking and is a nicer building. … Merlin’s Computers at 2128 Gottingen is closed, and so too is Games World on Quinpool. … Evolution Cabaret is now open at 2215 Gottingen above Club NRG and Blue Moon Bistro. ... Rumour has it a new women’s clothing store is going into the old Blue Heron location on Blowers. The same rumour says the fellas down the street at Pro Skates are behind the new business. We’ll keep you posted.

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