Photo by Sydney Blackmore
Barry and Donna Imhoff of Athome Furnishing

Sydney Blackmore window-shops for work, not fun.

Amish paradise
The Amish are coming! Well, sort of. Athome Furnishing has infiltrated the city’s furniture world and is offering Amish-made wooden pieces supplied by the Illinois-based company, Simply Amish. The shop’s owner is business veteran Barry Imhoff, a civic engineer and entrepreneur who made the changeover to furniture retail after 21 years in the construction industry.

Imhoff discovered the workmanship of the Amish three years ago when he and wife Donna were looking for the perfect wooden table to add to their renovated kitchen. The couple came upon Amish handcrafted wooden pieces during a trip to BC and were so charmed with its artistry that it sprouted an idea for the Athome venture.

The Amish are an agricultural Mennonite sect best known for living a simple life without the use of modern-day conveniences like electricity and cars. In 2007, the Imhoffs visited an Amish workstation in Ohio and saw their way of life first hand.

“Their workshops are virtually all family-owned, and they have very modern workshops,” Imhoff explains. “This man had a diesel generator and air compressors and hydraulic pumps attached to it, and his saws were all run by hydraulic motors.

Each of the Simply Amish furniture pieces are marked with the signature of its craftsman and carry with it a lifetime guarantee.

Athome is opened Monday to Saturday on 193 Kenmount Road. If you’d like to take a peek at what’s in store, visit the shop’s website at

What’s it Toya?
Toya International Market, once located at 15 LeMarchant Road, has its property up for lease. International cuisine lovers can now get their Caribbean, African, Latin American, Middle Eastern and Asian groceries at the new location on 17 Long’s Hill, right across the street from the fire station on LeMarchant Road, effective Monday, August 11.

George Street: Extreme Makeover Edition

George Street, St. John’s oldest drinking buddy, is getting prettied up. Ken O’Brien, Manager of Planning with the City of St. John’s, discloses that plans to overhaul the famous bar district are largely due to the age and condition of the street.

“Some of the pipes on George Street are 80 to 100 years old and these will have to be replaced in the next few years,” he says.

PHB Group Inc., the architectural firm responsible for projects like The Rooms and the Cabot 500 Amphitheatre in Bowring Park, submitted a report to the city a year ago with proposals, blueprints and drafts for a new and improved George.

“They’ve done sketches and they show that it won’t be a lot different,” says O’Brien. “What they’re proposing is that if we’re tearing up the street to replace the pipes, then the street could be reinstated completely flat from side to side. They’ve also suggested that there be no raised sidewalks, so the sidewalk area can be reserved for outdoor decks that can be removed for snow clearing in the wintertime.”

The city has been keeping a close dialogue with the George Street Association (GSA), the coalition of bar owners with properties stretching from the Sundance to Yellow Belly corner, to ensure the proposed changes will jive with the businesses on the street. So far, all parties have been supportive of the idea.

“Our hope is, if it works out, to present plans to the public in September and the cost will be split between the city and the GSA.”

Making George pretty won’t be a small feat. O’Brien estimates the project will take several construction seasons to complete, primarily lasting through spring, summer and fall months. To ensure that bar patrons can still get their drink on, the city will work out construction details that will accommodate pedestrians during the stages of construction.

George Street has established itself as the drinking capital of the capital since the early 1970s. So if the idea of changing the street seems like a buzzkill, O’Brien assures that the makeover plans are an effort to enhance George Street’s reputation as an entertainment district, and not to take away from it.

“When you say you’re from St. John’s, people from across the country will say, ‘George Street’ and nobody wants to change that,”

The City of St. John’s hopes to unveil George’s new look in late September. Watch this space for more info.

Online extra: illustrations from the upcoming plan…

One comment

City/Provincial pay scales?

Does anyone know if there are any reports of average salaries and wages for different positions in the city and/or province? Asked by

5 May 2012

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