Holiday shopping in Halifax Regional Municipality

I am somewhat reluctant to write this post, as I encourage people to buy less, rather than more, but I realize that buying gifts is an inevitable part of the holiday season for most people. I’m a strong believer in supporting locally-owned businesses; I think this is particularly important during this COVID-19 period, where so many small businesses are struggling to survive. The list below are my favourite local stores that sell a variety of items that reflect my interests; most of these stores feature products made by local artisans. The stores are located in the Halifax Regional Municipality; all have online shopping options.

Bookmark. We are a locally owned, independent bookstore. We are passionate about books. Since 1972 in Charlottetown and 1989 in Halifax, the Bookmark people have promoted the benefits of the written word, the beauty the book as physical object, and the value of sharing stories and ideas. We see independence as a virtue and are doing our part to keep our communities interesting.

I am an avid reader, but I don’t buy a lot of physical books, as I prefer ebooks. For those who purchase physical books, this store has an excellent selection of titles in a variety of genres, and also a good collection of planners and stationery.

Biscuit General Store. Biscuit General Store is inspired by our love of beauty and by our community here in Halifax, N.S. This place is our heart and soul, and we are always evolving to offer what resonates for us and our customers. We opened the shop in 1996, in a tiny space with no money! We wanted to offer an alternative to shopping in mall chain stores that was more fashion-centric, more local, more human, and more fun.

This store sells primarily clothing for men and women. I don’t buy too many items of clothing from the store, but I have purchased accessories, soaps, and home goods. True to its name, this store sells a bit of everything in addition to clothes.

Duly Noted Stationery. Notebooks, stationery, pens, ink, planners, and much more. I’ve bought a few fountain pens from this store (a weakness of mine), and buy my ink and writing supplies here.

Independent Mercantile Company: Curating this jewel box of home decor, kitchen goods, bar provisions, plants, books, candles, stationery and personal care is a celebration. It’s offered up for your enjoyment. This store sells a wide variety of home goods, and many with a strong eco-focus.

Inkwell Modern Handmade. Inkwell is a modern handmade boutique and letterpress studio located in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, with an abundant selection of specialty printed paper products and handmade delights made with love, by artists from around the corner and across the world. Wonderful selection of handmade cards. I’ve bought some beautiful cushion covers as well.

Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia. Located in Halifax. Proudly Supporting Artists of Atlantic Canada since 1978. This Halifax staple features a wide variety of handmade products, including jewellery, scarves, gloves, plates, and decorative items.

Kept: This store has a large variety of items for the kitchen, children, home décor, and stationery. Many of the products are made in Canada.

Made in the Maritimes. Our curated collection includes pottery, fine art, prints, textiles, cards, woodwork, folk art, jewellery, housewares, soft furnishings, glass art, baby gifts, gourmet edibles, health and beauty, and many other items. Most items are made in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick or Prince Edward Island. We also carry a curated collection of Canadian Made products. This description says it all.

Woozles. If children are on your gift list, you can’t go wrong with this independent bookstore with a focus on children.

Thornbloom. This store has a large variety of home goods, including linens, furniture, cookware, etc. I’ve bought a sofa from this store, as well as most of my kitchen linens.


Shopping local

One of the advantages of living in Nova Scotia is the prevalence of locally-made goods; you can quite easily meet most of your needs with these goods.  There is a such a strong culture of cottage industry in this province.  In a visit to the Distillery Historic District last December in my home town of Toronto, I was so disappointed by the dearth of locally-made goods (not even Canadian as a whole).  There was only one store that made a genuine attempt to carry locally-made goods; not surprisingly, the owners are graduates of  Nova Scotia’s NSCAD University.

One of my favourite places to buy local goods is the Atlantic Seaport Farmers’ Market in Halifax.  Some of my favourite vendors include:

  • Acadiana Soy Company:  A variety of soy-based products, including pates, tofu, burgers, and so forth.  They make delicious tofu spelt pot pies, and an amazing vegan tourtiere.
  • Fuitition: Variety of vegan food, sweets, and goodies.
  • Gali’s Health Kitchen:  Raw, vegan, and gluten-free treats. I always buy some of her goods to go with my post-market espresso.
  • Grand Pre Wines; Jost Vineyards; Blomidon Winery :  I know a number of people who turn their noses up at Nova Scotia wines; I think it’s a shame, because there are some lovely wines produced locally. Just because wine is French or Italian does not necessarily make it better.
  • Java Blend Coffee Roasters:  Freshly-roasted coffee in small batches.  Yum. OK, I’ll admit that I’m very particular about coffee and have very high standards of quality.  Life is too short for mediocre coffee.
  • Osha Mae Soap:  Soaps, Kaolin body powder; Kaolin and Neem facial mask; Rose cleanser; Deodorant.
  • Seafoam Lavender Farm:  The most heavenly lavender products you can buy.  Always a standing order for the lavender men’s facial cream from my father.
  • Signature Glass:  Stunningly-beautiful glass wares; espresso tastes so much better in her glasses.
  • Triverdad:  Pure argan oil; amazing product for your hair and skin. Love the soap, too.

I’m not adding any of the farmers, as it’s very difficult to distinguish the products from one vendor to another.  The Market is a must see for any visitor to Halifax.