Whyte Ridge Shopping Centre -- located way across busy Route 90 from the bedroom community it serves -- holds a lot of secrets. In fact, you can hardly find a spot to get into this busy lot at the end of Scurfield Boulevard's industrial area where it T-bones with Kenaston. Why? Because it's just like a small town main drag -- totally self-sufficient.
Hidden in this unassuming mall, you can get fancy European foods, fine wines, hit a deli, enjoy tasty restaurants, play pool, get your dog a facelift, take your kids to their dance and music lessons, see doctors, get yourself beautified, book a cruise, buy wine, drink bubblies, do some credit unioning -- and hit the Dairy Queen on the way home.
Here are just a few of the highlights:
Calabria Market and Wine
YOU can duck out of the cold and suddenly you're in southern Italy, with a wine boutique, neighborhood cafe and large aisles of specialty foods.
"We've been open 19 years," says Cathy Wozny. She and business partner Vicky Sartor grew up as "the Foderaro sisters." The smell of home-made soups and pizzas wafts from the hidden kitchen throughout the building.
"We're known for our deli's super subs with freshly cut meats, and people just love our pizzas," says Wozny. "We have line-ups back from the deli all the way to the door," she says, "and from 5 p.m. to 7:30 on a Friday it's just crazy."
For over-worked parents, they sell prepared pasta dishes that people can pop into the oven for a home-made Italian-style family meal. Sometime it's so crazy customers people sit on wine boxes for chairs!
This is a real Italian family business. Papa Frank Foderaro, now 77, opens he place in the mornings -- people NEED their espressos and biscotti -- and then he comes back to help with errands and to help close at night.
"He's a very integral part of our business," says Sartor. And he's a typical dad. "He's sweet and accommodating and sometimes he'll drive you crazy but we love him, and are so grateful to him for doing all that running around for us."
Whyte Ridge Veterinary Hospital
DR. Val Dirdala and Dr. Andrew Davidson run a full-service animal hospital, doing everything medical including administering chemo, setting bones, and doing dental work for dogs, cats, and birds! Their clinic/hospital boasts its own lab, and two X-ray machines, one for dental work. Dr. Dirdala says the part he likes best is doing the surgery. As for the dental work, "I do the cats and dogs and Dr. Davidson does the others." That includes feathery pets who need run-away beaks trimmed, especially if they don't use their cuttle bones to file them down. "They can get long and uneven, and then they can't eat properly."
Dirdala says they also do canine face-lifts and skin removal for certain kinds of dogs who can't breathe properly anymore because of the overhang.
Oh, and here's some cold weather wisdom for you pet lovers: "Dogs can't get enough exercise and they get heavy. Then, when it's not as cold, they overdo it, and they end up with joint and muscle problems." And watch out for the popular dog boots if your pooch's feet sweat. "Then they get... crazy-itchy between the toes. And be sure to keep the non-booted dogs off the salt and other de-icing chemicals, which can cause nasty reactions as well. As for cats who get out for a walk on the wild side, Dirdala warns their ear tips can freeze when it's colder than -20 C in as little as 20 minutes.
How do you know Dirdala's a true pet lover? "Oh, I've got my cat here!" he says, swooping up his black kitty with the big green eyes.
LEGACY is an independently owned Carlson Wagonlit Travel and Cruise Centre owned by Bob and Dorothy Franklin, who've been in the travel biz for wild and crazy years.
Frankly, the Franklins and their staff have been getting tons of calls from frustrated folks who want OUTTA HERE and RIGHT NOW! Says Dorothy: "I had a customer wanting to get out tomorrow and I actually found something for him the next day, but he couldn't do it, so now I'm looking for the day after that. People think they want to go right away, but they really can't. Life interferes."
"So, actually it isn't any busier than last year," says Bob. But next year they'll feel the increase. Dorothy chimes in, "If we have a terrible winter one year then we'll have people booking earlier the next year."
She says people are booking mostly direct flights to Mexico and Jamaica. "And those who are willing to go outside the charter norm" are booking Turks and Caicos and The Bahamas as favourites.
Pepper Tree Fashions
OWNER Connie Hall says people ask her how she manages to scrape by out in the boonies, poor thing -- and she just laughs. "It's great here!" The ladies' clothing store in packed full of brightly-coloured cruise wear, winter clothing on sale and spring fashions emerging. It doesn't hurt that there are lots of moms wandering through her shop after dropping off kids for lessons at Shelley Shearer's dance school.
"There are 100 businesses up Scurfield from me plus the Pembina Trails School Divison Board Office," she says. She offers noon-hour fashion demo parties "with a clock watcher at the door to make sure everybody gets back to work on time. I have everything on wheels and just push the racks back and set up tables and do demos, like multiple ways of tying scarves, or accessorizing the same outfit differently, with luncheon pizzas catered by Calabria,
Hall aims for "the 30-plus crowd -- that forgotten demographic. I sell casual and dressy casual for the small to full figured woman. I'm that customer myself. I just ask myself what I'd like to buy?"
Hall also partners with other independent shops to buy bigger orders. Though she buys 80 per cent Canadian, she took Parsley and Sage in Florida by surprise. "The first time I placed a $1,200 order. But by 2012, I'd placed a $55,000 order for winter. They told me I was their highest buyer in all of North America."
Her new interactive ever-changing website features an Ask Libby column for advice on figure problems and clothing that will enhance various figures. www.peppertreefashions.com.
"We all have (figure) issues at this point!" says Hall.
Maureen Scurfield is a freelance writer who loves exploring neighborhoods -- and here's one with her name on the street! Scurfield Boulevard is named after her cousin, Ralph Scurfield of Nu-West Homes and her Uncle Jack Scurfield, former principal of Churchill High School.