Spring is coming. Yes it is, unbelievers! And, here's good news — so is a new crop of upstart businesses, dotting the most popular patio district of Winnipeg. Yours truly trekked and checked to bring you the inside scoop on some exciting new projects on Corydon Avenue.
791 Corydon Ave., near Arbuthnot St.
CHRISTOPHER Saniuk and Amanda Remond greet me in their new upscale casual men's clothing store called Normandy. They tell me the red-haired puppy who is now sniffing at my feet is called Norman (what else?) He's a shop dog. Very important position.
Norman has auburn fur and goes stylishly with the warm, exposed original brick, vintage wood and the motorcycle -- a 1965 Ducati Monza, parked right inside the store. And there are lots of smells for Norman and the predominantly male customers to enjoy -- real leather, men's piney-smelling beard and face products, and the faint aromas of new denim and cotton shirts made with no synthetic additions, not even 10 per cent -- a little wrinkly but very stylish.
Their concept for the store? "This is a mens wear store, focusing on quality-made products conscientiously produced," says Saniuk proudly. That means he knows for sure everything is real, not synthetic -- and no sweat shops are involved. "Our clothes come from the U.S., Canada and Europe."
There's also some brands from Scandinavia, part of Saniuk's background: Norwegian and Swedish on one side, Ukrainian and Polish on the other.
Sounds like a fine Manitoba mix.
Saniuk is a manly man who loves male fashion. He used to work in construction. He is wearing a Harley T-shirt, black jeans and Red Wing boots, but he also sells a to-die-for leather suit jacket that's "soft as butter" made by Winnipeg's Lennard Taylor.
He and Remond have just returned from New York City where they went to three big trade shows. They HAD to be there. "A lot of the brands I carry, like Norse Projects, make a point of meeting you before they sell to you, because they want to know about your store and if their products and your shop are like-minded."
Other hot brands in the store are Billykirk and Fjall Raven.
So, is it hard to make buck in Winnipeg in a store where clothes often sell for several hundred dollars -- like the Red Wing boots that cost from $275-$350? Who is this demographic? "Certainly men with fancy jobs," I hint broadly. Says Saniuk, "Yes, a guy with a job -- or a kid who has wealthy parents," he smiles. "A couple customers have come in with a kid in Grade 12 and thrown down $1,000."
At Normandy you can buy two kinds of top quality denim jeans -- the brand 316 made from heavy Japanese fabric from Kuroki mills and Tellason denim from San Francisco from Cone mills. They start off kind of stiff, "but you wear them day and in and day out and they get very soft."
A sensual business, wearing top of the line clothing. And it's sure to attract other people who like to feel your fabrics!
Swiss Chalet and Harvey's
THE old Chicken Delight building at Corydon and Stafford will soon be clucking again. With a complete renovation happening as we speak, it is morphing into a combination of Swiss
Chalet and Harvey's under one roof. You can dine-in comfortably and take your time -- or blast through the drive-thru on the way to your many activities, kids screaming in the back.
This week, the forlorn and abandoned building received green protective fencing and workmen pulled the tired white siding off. "It's getting a
Swiss Chalet look," says franchise owner Sartaj Singh, who operates the Harvey's (a CARA franchise) out at the airport. CARA also owns chains such as Kelsey's and Montana's, East Side Mario's and others.
"We'll be open the second week of July, we hope," says Singh, who is originally from Ottawa, but has made Winnipeg his home. He says the building will stay the same size, and they're keeping the sun room on the Stafford side overlooking grand old St. Ignatius Church. "But everything on the inside will be new, and everything on the outside, too."
Singh is quick to point out his new double franchise on Corydon is more than a full menu drive-thru. "We want people to dine in, and we have a parking lot. We want them to come in and sit and relax. There's lots of food on Corydon but there is nothing else like this."
SDLqI'M very excited about the move to Corydon," said Peepers sales associate Eileen Lemay, as she emerged from the change rooms yesterday. Women were whisking in and out, checking front and back views in the big mirror, and heading off with fancy brand name suits at a discount. Nothing like a sale for Winnipeg shoppers! The store that promises a suit for every body, no matter what your shape, sells sizes 4 to size 26.
The shop is on Stafford Street, but in May, staff plan to move kit and kaboodle into the longtime Aurelies space at 866 Corydon Ave., close to Lilac St.
Lemay can't wait. "I like change, new things. It's a little bit bigger, and there will be more walk-in traffic and more business."
651 Corydon Ave.
SDLqIT'S all about lashes here," says owner Siuleen Thai. "I'm known as the Barbie Doll House of Corydon."
It's easy to see why. They do lash extensions (where longer lashes are glued to your own shorter ones) and lash lifts -- like a "perm" for your eyelashes.
"We curl them. And they stay that way!"
There's also the lash dip, which is a coating like nail polish. "We paint it on top of your lash and you don't have to wear mascara!" Great move for the beach. Instant fantasy: Imagine yourself emerging from the ocean, water droplets clinging to your dark, lush eyelashes...
So who comes to get extreme eyelash treatments? "We get mostly women coming, but we also get some men in here," she says, eyes twinkling.
"And we will get a lot of brides, especially in the summer."
Lush lashes that look like you grew them naturally will cost you from
$60-$300, depending on the volume -- from natural to fluffy to classic, which are darker and thicker.
A certain media woman well-known to yours truly claims, "My life started when I got lash extensions!"
Maureen Scurfield is a female Norman — she likes to sniff out new businesses.