Tired of fighting traffic to get to the big malls only to battle fellow shoppers in long lineups?
You might want to check out the little Charleswood strip where Corydon Avenue turns into Roblin Boulevard.
When you see the "big yellow house" on the corner of Cathcart Street, you'll know it's time to pull over.
You can get gorgeous for a night out with health, beauty and clothing shops. There are some charming ethnic restaurants. And speaking of beauty for all, you can even get your dog's toenails painted hot pink!
Here's a sampling of some of the smart shops that take you from Cathcart Street to the Moray Bridge, with no traffic snarls along the way.
Redeemed, the Consignment Place
3672 Roblin Blvd.
ALLYSON Linklater is the heart and soul of the Redeemed upscale clothing store: Most people know their way to her first store on Academy Road. Four years ago, the outgoing Linklater started this second, larger store on Roblin.
"Yes, I was worried at first, but it's turned out to be great. I've been in Charleswood four years and this store has more of a country feel. Charleswood businesses told me locals don't support their community, but I found it to be exactly opposite for us."
Linklater says she gets a steady supply of designer clothing. Why do people sell their beautiful designer duds? "Well, there's weight gain and loss, shopaholic problems, and boredom. One-third of the stuff is brand new, much of it with tickets still on."
The Charleswood store is also known for its larger sizes, up to 6X. I call them "extra luscious," she laughs.
Linklater is fussy about what she accepts in her store.
"My consignment has to look like it's new and actually not be older than two years."
She has about 1,000 consigners feeding her shop.
"Some women have thousands of items to bring in. They're just shopaholics. But, their problems have turned into good -- I can sell clothing to help a woman get back on her feet, looking great, and able to get a better job."
3414 Roblin Blvd.
"I just got back from the World Dog Grooming Show in Barcelona, Spain, where our team came seventh!" says the bubbly Sandy Orford, who can barely see over the dogs' heads when they're up on tables for grooming. The competition is held in different cities every two years. "So far, I've been to France, Italy, Germany and Brussels." She and her grooming guru daughter Beth Chopey go to the shows together. "This is pretty much a mother-daughter thing," she says.
At her colourful shop in Charleswood, dogs come and go with bandanas and manicures, curled tails, pink- and blue-dyed ears and sparkles on their backs. Like the stylists on TV makeover shows, the groomers do scissor-cuts and blow-dries.
"Our dryers have a lower pitch so they don't hurt the dogs' ears," says Orford. She says they give "breed-specific cuts" and try to talk people out of goofy, inappropriate looks for their dogs.
Most people come every six to eight weeks, but some pets are brought in every three weeks. She swears the dogs know when they look good. "Some dogs don't truly love the bath but when the bandana goes on, their tails go crazy and the owners tell them they look so beautiful and smell so lovely and they can hear that pitch of voice -- and they love that!"
Orford has been in the grooming business for 30 years and loves her Charleswood location.
"We're near the parks for the dogs and it kind of feels like we're in the country here. People really seem to like the dogs in the neighbourhood!" Check out her website at www.classyclips.ca.
The Food Studio
3200 Roblin Blvd.
MOST everyone seems to know the big yellow two-storey with the French country look. This charming business, owned by Maria Abiusi, is not just a cooking school -- it's a licenced restaurant you can rent for families, teams and corporate events. You can also come in with smaller numbers and participate in cooking your appetizers -- or even the entrées and salads. What a kitchen party! Tables are convertibles that can snap into different shapes and sizes.
There is a large kitchen surrounded by chopping counters with space right beside them for a cocktail party or a theatre-style classroom. Abiusi and her sister, Angela Houldsworth, work together at these gigs.
"I take care of the back end -- prepping and cooking -- and my sister takes care of the front because she has a background in hostessing and serving."
Abiusis and her husband bought the house as an investment. "I always looked at this house and loved it. A year later, we still hadn't sold it and I started brainstorming with a friend on things we could do with it. The first thing we thought of was a cooking camp for kids in the summer, then classes for adults.
"It's lots of fun. I've never had a bad event where people went home unhappy. I like this job because I have kids and it's very part time except for Christmas season. Then it's six weeks of go-go-go with events every day or twice a day. Our husbands feel abandoned, and my sister and I have six kids between us, age 10 to 18, so we divide the work and try not to have both of us here all the time."
Upcoming courses include bread-making, pasta made from scratch, gourmet appetizers and Christmas baking. Check out all the class offerings at www.foodstudio.net.