Big Day Downtown – Experience It All…

My plan, as part of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission’s “Big Day Downtown” (an annual event where bloggers head out to explore Downtown Halifax with $150 pre-paid Visa card), was to spend a fabulous day with my kids…outside…meandering among the streets of this awesome city while popping in and out of various shops and taking in a few local tourist attractions.

And then it POURED!!

With this year’s theme of “Experience It All,” I had three “experience cards” that I picked from a large shuffled stack…words that would help me fulfill my adventure during my Big Day Downtown.

My words…Playful, Social and Satisfying…totally easy if the kids and I grabbed an ice cream, climbed (and survived) “The Wave,” hopped aboard the Harbour Hopper and grabbed a bite on a patio…enjoying the company of two of my favourite people the day before they headed back to class…but like I said, IT POURED!

Sideways…rushing out of culverts…flooding the streets and making it impossible to use an umbrella. Rubber-boots-required kind of pouring!

So…with two teens, a hundred and fifty bucks to blow and a mom who HATES rain…we headed to The Mall as in, the “Market Mall” at Historic Properties where I have to admit…it was an unexpected surprise! (Apologies to the folks at Historic Properties Shops but I was never really a fan…and my mind was pleasantly altered today!)

To start…we headed to Colwell’s where I have to say, without a man in my life, I knew I wasn’t going to be purchasing anything yet I was dying to see the new shop! Recently re-located to Historic Properties, with plenty of windows and a beautiful space, my old friend Andrew Colwell was all too happy to show me around his new store! We chatted with my kids and caught up on all the news from both of our families. It was a thrill to see him looking so fit and fantastic (wearing of course a fabulous Colwell’s suit jacket and beautiful shirt!)

Across the hall from Andrew’s store, we were beckoned into the most luxuriously smelling shop you could imagine! A video, playing on the back wall, showed the process of making the most wonderful soaps. Based in Sainte-Anne-De-Kent, New Brunswick, with their month-old “boutique shop” in Historic Properties…Olivier Soapery was a delight to every sense imaginable. I was overwhelmed and I have to tell you, absolutely thrilled that I could FINALLY…after many many months of not being able to smell…take in the glorious scents of lavender, cranberry, pear and apple to name a few! On arrival, the lovely Ginette left her spot behind the counter and gave us the low down on Olivier soaps. Made with all natural ingredients…the boutique was fantastic…a marvellous addition to Halifax! Ginette showed the kids around, chatted about the products and in no time, had them both sold on a soap, cream and scrub to help with teenaged skin. Me…I managed to pick out some wonderful soaps for my nightly bath!

The boutique was beautiful, the product was fantastic, but what sold us was Ginette…she truly was delightful and Spiderman, Bones and myself left the store feeling quite happy and content about our new goodies!

Next stop…lunch! We headed to the end of the mall to Hart and Thistle…a “gastropub” known for their fabulous food and beer that’s brewed on site. Patty, our lovely waitress, chatted about the current brews but being that I was hanging with my kids, I turned down a pint but ordered a few appetizers for us to share. On arrival, I was taken back to see the size of the plates! A loaded plate of nachos, calamari piled high and served with a homemade chutney and jelly and the most appetizing serving of bruschetta I’ve probably ever enjoyed! We ate every last morsel of the scrumptious food while watching the storm on the waters outside…happily content to be sitting comfortably indoors and chatting with Patty as she spoke to the kids about their return to school and their various activities.

With bellies full, we headed back to the stores to pop into a shop I just knew that I’d love! The simple fact that it was named Limoncello (my new fav drink) had everything to do with drawing me inside! Glenn Martin, owner of Limoncello, told me about his love of Italy…everything bright and fun…and he nailed it with this beautiful store. Everywhere I looked I saw items I’d love starting with the “Fiesta Dinnerware.” The bright-colored dishes…made in West Virginia…were originally created in 1936 to cheer people up and were an instant success. Limoncello is one of two suppliers of Fiesta dinnerware in Canada and sure to be a hit in Halifax! (And soon to be gracing my dinner table!) Along with the colourful dishes, my eyes were jumping from one thing to the next. From Sheilah Duffet’s original works of art to the fabulous sterling silver fair-trade jewellery from Mexico…I couldn’t get enough. I happily went about the store while my kids followed behind, intent on buying something for myself where honestly…I could have picked up absolutely anything and been thrilled with the purchase! In the end, I left the store with a fantastic sterling silver “spinner” ring (there’s a band around the ring that you can spin “just for fun”) and an iron eiffel tower tea light that Glenn happily dropped to half price (knowing I blew my budget with the purchase of the ring!)

Limoncello was one of those stores that I know was put there “just for me.” I’ll be back…many times…and I highly suggest you drop in to have a peek as well.

All in all…the day was a tremendous success. Because of the rain we were dragged inside to experience a few brand new shops we wouldn’t have discovered making me remember that Plan B…is just as good…and often better…than Plan A. The Market Mall at Historic Properties is not how I’d remembered. It left me pleasantly surprised…knowing I’ll return again, very soon.

Spending time with my children is always fun…always “Playful.” Meeting new shop owners and running into old friends is definitely “Social.” But having a day where you can come home…both belly and heart full…is without a doubt, deeply “Satisfying.”

Thanks to Downtown Halifax Business Commission for including me in this year’s “Big Day Downtown!” Join in on the conversation and check out the various blog posts by following the #BigDayDowntown hashtag on Twitter or visiting DHBC’s Facebook page. Starting September 4th, you’ll have a chance to win a $100 Visa card of your own…to spend Downtown where, like me, you’ll discover, a place where you can “Experience it all!”