Archive for November, 2014

This Christmas make your style statement with

 fashions from around the world brought home to you by



Stephanie and I had a blast putting together some looks that set her style statement. We love to work with you in helping you find yours. Let us help you put together that special outfit with some edge and originality for this holiday season. Have a look at what we found for Stephanie.


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Starting December 1 we will be open daily from 10 – 6 with the added hours of

Thursday and Friday, 10 – 9 and Sundays 10 – 5.  

We look forward to making you look your best ever!

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Is our Downtown an endangered species?

The influx of fast food chains and big box stores has taken its toll on small towns not just across Nova Scotia but across the continent. As the masses flock to retailers like Wal Mart in search of bargains  independent retailers wither and die.  If this trend continues it won’t be long before all of our towns start looking the same – oh, wait, they already do! At the entry to most towns in Atlantic Canada and the rest of the country you enter via the Strip with the same fast food restaurants and big box stores. Close your eyes – open them and you can no longer tell where you are.

Sprawl 2

The same is true of our malls – whether travelling through Europe, the USA, or Canada, we are now encountering the same stores in every single mall. We are losing our authenticity and our creativity.

I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but consider what is happening to the state of independent retailing. This past winter didn’t quit until May. People stayed home and most every retailer across this half of the country suffered. In Antigonish many of our downtown retailers were choked to the point that several have closed and more are on the brink. In the meantime retailers entertain customers who come into stores to try on for size and then buy the goods online. On the surface it appears to be cheaper to buy online (they often offer surplus/clearance/second rate goods for the most part that are bought at great discounts) – but when you consider the cost of shipping and the compromises we make keeping things we never really wear – the savings proposition is not as great as it seems. But the impact is severe.

When planning my recent buying trip for spring 2015 I contacted one of our main clothing sales agencies in Montreal. The sales representative wrote back, “I decided to stop working and pull out of the business. The last seasons have been very hard on all of us and many of my big accounts have either gone bankrupt or just closed and many more are to come! Even though I loved my job, I decided it was time for me to retire.” This is one example of many that I encountered this year with the agencies I deal with – other have downsized, laid off staff and are in a waiting pattern hoping for the business climate to improve. The entire fashion industry is shaken up by factors such as the burgeoning fast clothes industry (Joe Fresh etc.), the demise of manufacturing in Canada, online shopping, discount retailing (Winners), and most recently the long and difficult winter of 2014.

What’s at the root of these challenges? Many factors are at play but certainly the online shopping industry has had a major impact as it has grown exponentially over the past decade into a multi-billion dollar industry. Where have those billions of consumer dollars come from? It’s not new money but rather it’s your money being diverted away from your local business community and the economy of your town. Retail business is shifting from bricks and mortar and customer service to otherwise impersonal two dimensional surfaces on your computer screen. If this trend continues what happens when all the retail stores are gone?

Right now downtown Antigonish is a real anomaly in Nova Scotia. Most of the storefronts are full of independent businesses that offer just about everything you might need and want. It’s a joy to walk down Main Street, browse the shops, enjoy lunch or dinner in one of the great restaurants, take in some of the street festivities and local art scene, have an ice cream cone and smell the flowers in the summertime. Antigonish is one of the most authentic and pretty little towns in Atlantic Canada. It wasn’t always like this. When I moved here seventeen years ago I saw many vacant storefronts, crumbling sidewalks, struggling businesses and not a lot of excitement. With a concerted effort among the local population, the Downtown Beautification Committee was struck, the local arts council was formed, new restaurants opened up and over time a spate of lovely new stores came (some went) and it’s all looking pretty good.

We encountered some major issues with the opening of the new highway in 2012 and the lack of directional signage but that problem was eventually rectified by the town. We could still use better signage on the highway to attract visitors to the town that tourism specialist Roger Brooks referred to as “the best kept secret in Nova Scotia”. His research revealed the majority of the highway travellers interviewed didn’t know that Antigonish had a downtown. Some thought it was James Street.

We could benefit from having an investment from our town and county for a designated marketing and promotions specialist. It used to be that the Regional Development Authority handled much of that for us, but their demise has left a great void for us (while it has left a surplus of funds with the municipalities that no longer have to support it). The result is seen in poor online representation on our provincial tourism website and other online entities that might otherwise entice people to visit our town. It would certainly be another step forward for our municipalities to recognize the importance, both socially and economically, of investing in the marketing and promotion of this beautiful place we live in.

It’s up to us as the residents of this remarkable community to take the reins as proud citizens, and recognize the need to support our downtown. It’s best to do it from a position of strength and genuine concern… and before it’s too late.

We need to have a dialogue about the need to nurture our independent businesses and support them as best we can. Before venturing off to shop online or to the big city, first look to see if you can buy it in your town. In doing this you are assuring that you will always have the luxury of finding an excellent variety of interesting products, goods and services at your doorstep. You can take pride in knowing that you live in a vibrant town that’s inviting to tourists, visitors and other entrepreneurs who can add that much more to the fabric of our community.  How wonderful it would be if we could all agree to make our town an example of what can be achieved with a little bit of love! I heard a wonderful quote on the radio recently from a bookseller in Nelson, British Columbia. She said “Everybody here wants to make it better for everybody else.”  

I would like to take this opportunity to thank so many of our citizens and customers who are well aware of the importance of your support. You contribute to the backbone of our local economy that enables so many benefits including community development, enhanced tourism, employment and a solid tax base for the town.

As the busy Christmas season is upon us, let’s encourage everyone to shop at home first and help to sustain our vibrant town.





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