Thu, May 2, 2013
When Storefront reporter Lauren Power showed interest in checking out some of the businesses in his square, Winston Churchill was tickled pink.
Have small business news? Know a strip mall or area you’d like to see covered? E-mail us at email@example.com
Tue, Mar 26, 2013
After five and a half years, Britannia Teas and Gifts has closed the doors of its location at 199 Water Street.
In the end, owner Kelly Jones says the rising cost of doing business put the squeeze on the small storefront. But, says Jones, even though the shop is at the end of its brick-and-mortar existence, it doesn’t mean tea time is over in St. John’s—for her shop or other small businesses downtown.
“Small business thrives downtown,” says Jones. “I believe boutique shopping downtown is exceptional. Service and quality are excellent. Bricks and mortar is no longer for me, but I don’t think that it wouldn’t be good for someone else. There are issues downtown, but there are different issues elsewhere.”
Parking is one of the issues that plagued Britannia Teas and other downtown business, along with anybody that’s ever tried to get a parking space below Queen’s Road.
“It would be great if there was a direct bus that made only a few stops,” says Jones. “There was a shuttle bus downtown a couple of summers ago, but no one knew about it.” [Buddy the Bus, 2009-2009, R.I.P.]
Jones is upbeat when discussing the prospect of competition created when bigger businesses come to town, like DavidsTeas at the Avalon Mall.
“I think competition is good,” says Jones. “It lets your current customers see how you compare. It keeps you on your toes. We didn’t lose any business, in fact we gained many new customers. Many people who shop at the malls don’t often shop downtown, but when they learn about a new product and discovered there was a local business, they’ll come and see what you have on offer.”
Britannia Teas and Gifts online store at www.britanniateas.ca is scheduled to be up and running in April.
Fri, Mar 1, 2013
Storefront detective Lauren Power took his Deerstalker and pipe on the road to scope out businesses at this strip mall in the East End.
Higher-end shopping is getting a boost with the arrival of three new stores in St. John’s.
Opened in late November, FOUND Consignment Boutique (1 Waterford Bridge Road, formerly Contemporary Florist) is dealing in higher-end ladies’ clothing, shoes, boots, coats and accessories.
“We accept items daily by appointment so there is something new every single day at Found,” says owner Karin Smith. “It’s the best part about consignment shopping. You could stop in every day and find something new and unique. We carry everything from high end denim and yoga wear (like Lululemon) up to designer dresses, shoes and handbags. We also have a great selection of winter coats right now.”
FOUND operates on consignment, meaning clothes are not donated, but rather sold on an individual’s behalf. “Consignment shopping is savvy. You’re shopping brands that you might not normally find locally here in St. John’s. As well, you’re getting new or very gently loved designer and better brand clothing at fraction of the original retail price.”
Also new is Clothes Minded (655 Topsail Road), a retail-resale shop, with a focus on higher-end brands for women and men. Their Facebook page provides a preview of what’s in store.
Finally, Melanie Lyne, the higher-end division of Canadian women’s wear boutique chain, Laura, has opened a location in the Avalon Mall, in the spot formerly occupied by Lindor.
Pew pew! Greg Leaman isn’t just a student entrepreneur and design wunderkind. He’s a laser enthusiast.
Leaman was introduced to laser engravers during a high school co-op placement at a design firm. After purchasing a laser to call his very own, Leaman opened his own business, Engravable Designs Inc.
Along with his signature wood business cards, Leaman’s Engravable Designs Inc. offers a variety of lasered products, from woodcut prints and anti-microbial iPhone cases, to bamboo cufflinks and wood collar stays (for the sartorialist on your Christmas list).
“I try to work really hard to give each client a unique-to-them one-of-a-kind product,” Leaman says of his custom design work. “I’m always open to tackling new projects, especially where the client sort of has an idea about what they want and let me run with it from there.”
Engravable Designs Inc. can be found at engravables.ca
Beer lovers: If Bud Light Lime isn’t cutting it for you, your salvation is here.
Tom Beckett and Mike Buhler, founders of Newfoundland’s Artisanal and Craft Beer Club, have made it their goal to expand the selection of beer available in the province. Beerthief — named after local hardcore band Schizoid’s 1987 single — has begun facilitating orders of previously unavailable brews through the NLC.
“I went to my friend Tom Beckett… he managed the Belbin’s cheese club and we came up with the plan of a beer-of-the-month club,” says Buhler. “It took almost two years to get it going through the NLC but we’re up and running and are just putting in the order for the second offering to the NLC right now.”
Here’s how it works: With each semi-monthly microbrew offering, the club gathers orders. “We place the order with the NLC who place their order with the brewery,” says Buhler. “When it arrives, we notify the members by e-mail to pick it up and pay the NLC. They then enjoy the beer!”
The offerings, which are available with no membership fee and or shipping cost, have attracted hundreds of new and longtime beer fans.
Along with the beer orders, the team will also be holding beer tastings, the first of which will be held on December 7 at the Howley Estates NLC. Liam McKenna, brewmaster at YellowBelly, will be in attendance to discuss the YellowBelly beer available for tasting, while Buhler, a Level One Cicerone (beer sommelier) will lead the tasting of the four beer from Dieu du Ciel of Saint Jerome, Québec.
Dieu du Ciel was recently named 3rd best brew pub in Canada by vacay.ca, with 4th place going to Yellowbelly.
Details on how to order and future events can currently be found at the Beerthief Facebook page.
Wed, Oct 31, 2012
Getting drunk on booze you brewed yourself is a pretty empowering experience. You, madam/sir, are a self-sufficient human being! You don’t need anyone but yourself to knock your brain cells into a stupor! And it turns out that now brewing your own beer is possible even if you have zero interest in hops or yeast or any of that weird nonsense.
For the past month people in town have been able to go to their local convenience store and pick up “the world’s easiest beer making kit,” Mister Beer’s Bottle Brew, a 2 litre plastic bottle of unfermented beer with a tiny vial of yeast and a second pressure cap. Open it, pour in the yeast, put on the pressure cap, leave it at room temperature, and in two weeks you have beer. Like, 2 litres of pretty damn good beer, considering the 8 bucks you paid for it. Plus you get that hard-won empowered feeling I mentioned earlier.
“We’ve had many requests to sell in Newfoundland and recently we were able to find a distributor,” Paul Timoteo, President of Mister Beer Inc., told us. “Mr. Beer has been well received in Newfoundland, and we are looking forward to increasing our presence there.”
We weren’t able to snag a complete list of where to find it at press time, but bottles have been spotted at a number of Marie’s Mini Mart convenience stores around town.
We couldn’t call ourselves real journalists without actually trying Mister Beer. We brewed up a batch of Pilsner and a batch of Cerveza. Here’s how it went.
The results were good. Really, really good. Consensus at the staff tasting meeting was along the lines of “gimme some more!” Of the two we tried, the Cerveza was a little more popular than the Pilsner at first, but after everyone was a few samples in it was all popular.
A St. John’s institution is getting a great big facelift thanks to Bob Hallett of Great Big Sea. Hallett and Chris Andrews of Shanneyganock are the new owners of Erin’s Pub (186 Water Street).
“We hope to give it a general spruce up, while retaining the authenticity patrons love,” says Hallett of the 26-year old pub. As well, Hallett and Andrews plan on ratcheting up the already prominent traditional Irish music presence at Erin’s.
“Erin’s Pub was the first bar in St. John’s to feature traditional music,” says Hallett, “and mine and Chris’s passion for that music will guide our efforts there. We want it to be a place where everyone feels welcome, and where traditional music can be played and heard any day or night of the week.”
Their love of music isn’t the only thing Hallett and Andrews will be bringing with them to Erin’s though. “As travelling musicians both myself and Chris have enjoyed a pint in some of the world’s finest pubs, and we will be taking all those lessons to heart.”
Spine-tingling tales about the downtown are now at your fingertips thanks to the release of the Haunted Hike App for iPhone and iPad.
Dale Jarvis, the ghost storyteller behind the Hike says the new app will allows people from away to enjoy St. John’s spooky past, and allow locals to make their own hikes year-round.
For app designer Levin Mejia, something that stuck him going on the Hike with Dale was not only the spookiness of it, but also how it delved into the history of St. John’s. Capturing both the creepy and historic were important to him in designing the app.
The Haunted Hike app is the second local walking tour-type app released in the past few months. The Newfoundland Historic Trust launched its straight-up historical walking tour app Walk St. John’s, featuring four charted walking tours past an array of downtown sites this past August.
Keeping a regular bike shop open through the winter is tough, but when it’s a volunteer-run, not-for-profit bike shop, it can be even tougher say the folks behind Ordinary Spokes.
“I know other bike shops straight-up close for the month of February,” says Juls Mack. “Shop traffic is low, the city hibernates in the winter.”
This looming slow-down in customers, workshop participants, and volunteers has led Ordinary Spokes to close their storefront space at 576A Water Street and put it up for sublet for the winter.
“Most of us [volunteers] are extremely busy, the shop isn’t our job, we don’t make any money off it. We have other jobs, many of us go to school, many of us are in bands, we have partners and families,” says Mack.
Despite these challenges and the move to sublet through the slushy season, Mack says the shop is still going well.
As it heads into winter Ordinary Spokes will be hosting a fundraiser on November 3rd at Distortion featuring the movie Beijing Bicycle and four bands for five bucks. The shop will be available for rent from December to May for $500 per month. Inquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
A businessperson with a passion for interior design and a dance instructor with an interest in business have joined forces to transform the space formerly occupied by Attica at 2 Freshwater Road into SAM Design, a new furniture store and interior design studio. Co-owners Susan Drover and Marie Steffan are behind the new business.
“SAM carries many of the same lines Attica did as well as a number of exciting new ones,” says Steffan.
They’ve put in a coffee bar to help customers get inspired, and plan to offer interior design workshops in the future.
The St. John’s Metro has more people with more money to spend on more cars, in more restaurants, and on other stuff than ever before. And businesses are scrambling to get in on the action.
Condos in the recently renamed and soon-to-be revamped NL Telephone building on Duckworth Street, Mix, are now on sale—$244K gets you a 480 sq-foot one bedroom.
Restaurant impresarios CARA are opening two more Swiss Chalets and a high-end Milestones. They also own Montanas.
Rumours persist of Banana Republic and H&M’s arrival. Both companies won’t confirm or deny anything, but GAP owns both Banana Republic and a building in the Harvey Power Centre.
The Kelsey Power Centre off Kenmount is being expanded. A new Kent opened there in July. Rona opened a while ago as the first tenant in the Harvey Power Centre, behind the Cabot Power Centre (aka Stavanger Drive). Across the road, dirt has began to be moved for the Field Power Centre a new Empire Theatre will be the anchor tenant there. Work is also beginning on Southlands Power Centre. Early plans include an even bigger movie theatre and an even bigger hardware store.
As we reported here in January, Melissa Butler was working on opening an all-organic grocery store in St. John’s. A few months, and a permanent move to cyberspace later, the Real Food Market is up and running as an online organic grocery store.
“We’re trying to be a one-stop shop,” says Butler, who now has over 600 products—including an array of fresh local produce—that customers can order online. From there it can be delivered, or picked up at Real Food Market’s warehouse on Logy Bay Road. Their website is at shoprealfood.ca.
For Srdjan Stojic, picking a name was the easiest part of starting his new restaurant, Saltwater.
“It’s obvious,” he says. “We’re surrounded by it.”
The high-end restaurant with a focus on local food opened at 284 Duckworth Street in late August. One wall of the dining room is covered in salty planks from a Battery fishing stage, and chef Michael Gillan serves up dishes like mussels steamed in seawater seasoned with locally harvested seaweed.
Finding local produce is usually a challenge, but seaweed? Relatively easy. The suppliers were shocked, says Stojic. “No one ever ordered a kilogram of seaweed before.”
Beginning in November the St. John’s SPCA will be in the thrift shop business.
The local animal rescue group has long held regular flea markets to raise funds, but these one-off events had become a drain on the organization and volunteers, says Fundraising Coordinator Jennifer Cummings.
The benefits of the thrift shop, she hopes, will be manyfold. The thrift store has proven a lucrative fundraiser for other non-profits, and additional funds would allow the SPCA to increase their spay and neuter programs, which make shelter animals more likely to be adopted, she says. And having the store at 162 Park Avenue in Mount Pearl also presents opporunties.
“We’re excited to branch out to Mount Pearl,” she says. Most SPCA activities are currently St. John’s-centric, but by setting up shop in Mount Pearl Cummings sees it as an opportunity to grow awareness of the organization, and recruit even more volunteers.
No official date in November but you can track its progress at spcastjohns.org.