I’m back with the third and final installment of our Local’s Guide to Nova Scotia (Part One and Part Two). This time, I thought we’d focus on my second favourite thing to do while travelling: SHOPPING. Of course, Nova Scotia has plenty of the stores you’ll find elsewhere (except sadly… no Anthropologie… DO YOU HEAR ME ANTHRO?!) but after polling a bunch of friends, we came up with this list of the local, independent stores that we love to frequent. Without further ado…
For the ladies, there are tons of really cute boutiques to check out in and around downtown: Biscuit General Store, Sweet Pea Boutique, Wildflower, J&R Grimsmo, Twisted Muse, and Envy, to name a few. If you’re in the mood for luxury goods, Foreign Affair & Mills are great places to hit. If you’ve got a luxury appetite and a not-so-luxury bank account, Crimson & Clover is a fantastic little consignment shop right downtown.
For the gents, there isn't quite as much selection – but RCHMND and Duggers serve up some classic dapper style.
John David and Kick Ass Shoes (inside of the upper portion of Mills) have tons of lust-inducing footwear to choose from – and if you’re looking for a sale – check out the Mahone Bay Trading Company, specifically the one in Mahone Bay. There’s a little shop in downtown Halifax as well, but the one in Mahone Bay has a huge room full of clearance shoes – I found my winter boots there last year! If you’re in and around Mahone Bay, it’s definitely worth checking out.
There’s something for every budget. If you’re feeling flush, check out the stunning and unique pieces at Fireworks Gallery. If you’re on the other end of the spectrum, The Black Market has you covered. They have tons of affordable and unique earrings, bangles, nose studs, and rings (plus scarves and other trinkets). It’s my preferred stop for nose studs and a great place to find a gift for a girlfriend. But you may want to steer clear if you’re scent-sensitive. Incense GALORE. If you’re looking for something more middle of the road – The Vault has some cool pieces. And if you’re at the Market – there are usually lots of independent artists showcasing their pieces!
I’m a paper fiend and it’s well known that my happy places are Inkwell Boutique and Duly Noted. Duly Noted has tons of cards, stationery, gift wrap, calligraphy pens, and lots of adorable miscellany. Inkwell is filled largely with pieces by local (or local-ish) artists and others from across the globe. In addition to paper goods, you can find art, dish towels, tote bags, even temporary tattoos. I’m a huge fan. Kept Shop in Dartmouth is relatively new on the scene but has an awesome mix of paper goods/art, home décor, and much more. You’ll need to take the ferry across the harbour to get there but it’s walkable from the terminal. You could even turn it into a nice little morning and hit up Two If By Sea (mentioned last week) for coffee & a croissant on your way. Argyle Fine Art in downtown Halifax has a constantly rotating selection of work - often something interesting and kind-of kooky, like oh, you know, throw pillows printed with the faces of our local news anchors... If you pop in, make sure you also take a look downstairs, which overflows with even more art. If you’re visiting Lunenburg, make sure you make time to pop into Dots & Loops. Art, accessories, paper goods, wood crafts, and so much more. Basically all the awesome hipster crafts that you wish you knew how to make in one store. An excellent place to pick up a locally-made gift for someone.
My crack, basically. One of my faves is Halifax’s favourite high-end furniture store, Attica. Although a couch may be too large to bring home as a souvenir, definitely take a stroll through the store if you’re a design addict like me. Bellissimo on Agricola Street is another fave, with all kinds of little accessories that you actually could take home with you. Thornbloom is another Halifax staple that specializes in bedding, dishware, and the occasional furnishing. If you’re here around Christmas – they have an incredible selection of stunning and delicate ornaments. A recent addition to the Halifax design scene is KEW on Granville. Although it also might be difficult to take a modern coffee table home as a souvenir, KEW also has some very cool pieces by local artists, including a series of modern and fun Halifax dishtowels (the ink is made from seaweed!) and coasters. This is also the home of the Downtown Halifax poster I’ve been coveting for months… one of these days; I’ll finally pick one up!
If you’re looking for something vintage, there are a few spots you won’t want to miss. Urban Cottage is right downtown, just a few doors over from KEW. You could find pretty much anything in that store… it’s full to the brim! Likewise, Finer Things Antiques on Agricola Street has all kinds of treasures to sort through. If you’re lucky, the owner’s French bulldog might even be there to greet you. If you’re a mid-century fan, Abode Boutique downtown has some gorgeous furniture (and another friendly and adorable dog). Lastly, although not always antique – Rusty Hinges in the Hydrostone has all kinds of distressed wood furniture. It’s also where we found our liquor locker!
I mentioned Woozles a few weeks ago but it’s worth mentioning again if you have kids. It’s Canada’s oldest children’s bookstore and a very cool spot. HaliKids has lots of fun games and kid paraphernalia. The Discovery Centre gift shop has science projects and other neat hands-on stuff for kids. And Nurtured is a great place to pick something up for parents-to-be.
If you’re in Lunenburg, just a few doors down from Dots & Loops is Pentper General Shop. It’s the most finely curated collection of amazingness I’ve seen. And in my personal experience, it sends the men I know into a tailspin. They want EVERYTHING. If you like Best Made Co., you’ll love Pentper. Back in Halifax, eco-lovers should check out P’Lovers and I’ve heard that apparently outdoorsy people like The Trail Shop (I wouldn’t know…). And lastly, if you’re looking for something quintessentially Nova Scotian, check out Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia on Spring Garden Road. All kinds of pieces created exclusively by Atlantic Canadian artisans.
I feel exhausted just thinking about all of that shopping. If you need a replenishment break to get you through, be sure to check out my food & drink guide from last week for a great place to refuel! And if you’d like to disperse some actual cultural & touristy activities amongst your shopping, I’ve got a list of great things to do as well!