Next time you're driving north down busy Main Street, slow down! Don't whiz past little gold mines of privately-owned shops in blocks such as the 1300s. On this one block alone you can buy antiques and collectibles, custom-made aboriginal clothing and art, team uniforms and drapes. You can also stop for a manicure, get the hottest in hip-hop clothing for your kids, and check out a classy sex shop to spice up your life. Hey, you can even do your laundry at SudZers, and drop in for drinks at the Legion on the corner between loads!
1341 Main St.
ASK for the tour if you're new to this shop. You start out close to the door in the couples' games section. The 50 Shades of Grey game is very popular for bachelorette parties and "girls' night out."
"Isn't the game meant for couples?" I ask my tour guide, Meghan Wilcox. "Not really. The game questions are more like, "Which one of us would be most likely to try this or that?"
Look, we even sell THE necktie," says Wilcox, holding up the famous silver-grey necktie featured on the cover of the first book. The rest of the aisle shows off goofy gag gifts, and a big selection of lotions and potions. "Here we have anything you need for a really romantic evening." Pretty safe so far.
Now we're in the midst of the store, so hang on for the ride. Expensive sex toys in a glass case catch the eye.
"Over here we have the Cadillacs of vibrators," says Wilcox, gesturing to a long cabinet with vibrating numbers lined up like little soldiers. "They cost from $110 to almost $200," she says. These include the new shiny steel toys which are heat- and cold-sensitive. "You can put them on ice and they'll get very cold or you can heat them under warm water and they retain the heat. Because they're not porous, they are the most hygienic. You can put them in the dishwasher -- but you better not have your kids unload the dishwasher!"
Around a corner are the men's toys, notably "The Fleshlight." It looks like a large flashlight but it's really a portable, um... well, let's just say you don't have to buy the whole blow-up doll.
The middle of the room is filled with lingerie and costumes, with a fine boa collection behind the checkout and free gift-wrapping counter. The shop is owned by Diane Houston.
VINTAGE VERUCA ANTIQUES
1342 Main St.
FIRST you ring the bell on the green building, peek in the window and cross your fingers the staff will let you in. "Not everybody can come in the door," says Monique Buckmaster, the owner of Vintage Veruca, which does 90 per cent of its business online via their website (www.vintageverucaantiques.com).
My eye strays to a Hermes antique leather bag with a $5,000 price tag. "I got it in a trade with a New York customer," says Buckmaster. She fervently wishes she could keep it for herself. "I LOVE bags and have all kinds of them here." Another great passion is antique jewelry. "I have gemstone rings like opals, rubies and sapphires and semi-precious stones, and lots of antique diamond wedding rings." The large coloured rhinestone jewelry dazzling in the case reminds me of my mom's old sparklers.
"We have everything from costume jewelry to the real McCoys, and prices go from $10 into the thousands," says Buckmaster. Some are treasures from Victorian estates, but there's also art deco and mid-century modern. Buckmaster ships far and wide with an ever-changing catalogue. Across the back wall is a huge lit cabinet with pieces of famous old dish patterns so people can replace items in their mothers' and grandmothers' collections. "We have oddskys and sodskys of everything here."
Along one wall is the store's famous Christmas decorations, featuring hot-pink, turquoise, purple and silver aluminum trees and shiny balls to mix and match. For people who love the traditional tree and antique decorations, "we have crates and crates of old-fashioned hand-decorated ornaments."
1348 Main St.
IRONICALLY, a sign at the entrance to Hood Hop'rz says "NO HOODIES" -- a message to certain people that they can't cover their faces if they want to come into the cool shop owned by Bryan Bashucky and Rick Acuna. It's a funky hip-hop clothing den with hats, boots, jeans and low-slung pants. "We sell men's and ladies urban wear, many brands influenced by musicians." Bashucky is proud of the well-known labels they carry such as Truck Fit, Famous Stars N Straps, Planet of the Grapes and Algierz.
And yes, they sell bongs and paraphernalia. For bongs to be sold legally, the shop has to post a sign that reads "All Glass Wear is Strictly for Herbal and Tobacco Only." On an adjacent display are unusual stash boxes made out of things like WD40 containers.
"We have clothes for girls too," says Bashucky. Translation: Clothes that look like clothes for guys, only smaller. And there's a display of fancy footwear, with boots that will do your hip-hopping feet proud.
1357 Main St.
NAILS 2000 is the place to get your soul soothed and soles smoothed. They will also take care of your fingernails with manicures and hand massages. While an increasing number of guys venture in for manis and pedis, the place is generally full of women, especially after a hard day.
The interior features a wild purple velvet couch with hot-pink leather trim. Tall high-backed black massage chairs wait for ladies who will dip their feet in warm pools and receive a back massage throughout. Do customers go to sleep in the chairs? "Oh yes, they really like that!' laughs Rose Huynh.
"A lot of people come here after work," says the Vietnamese-Canadian owner (she recently bought the spot where she'd worked for seven years). At Nails 2000 the menu on the wall offers about 20 kinds of beauty treatments including the new shellac nail treatment.
"It's not like gel nails," she says, holding up her rose-tipped nails. "It's very hard and it stays on a long time." One week? "Oh no, much longer than that."
1346 Main St.
Cree-Ations is a combination storefront and workshop for cloth, fur and leather artists who make many of the colourful clothing items for sale in store. There are star blankets, jewel-coloured, fur-trimmed parkas, melton cloth jackets with aboriginal designs, gorgeous mukluks, moccasins, unisex fur hats and, mitts, as well as ribbon shirts and sundresses for warm weather. The baby clothing and soft leather booties? Too cute for words. "We sent these to the prince!' says sales person Bobbie Lee Proulx, holding up a tiny pair of soft deer-hide leather moccasins. Prince George, precious baby of Kate and William, will have cozy feet this winter.
This business is definitely a family affair. The day I visited, artisan Edna Nabess was working at the sewing machine, daughter-in-law Bobbie Lee Proulx was greeting customers, while her six-month-old baby slept in the shop. Her husband Keith Proulx is also involved and they have a new storefront shop at 221 Marion Ave. Friends and neighbours keep dropping by to say hello at Cree-Ations and to see what's new. It's a large, friendly busy space. A person gets a happy feeling standing in this shop.