Hallelujah! Osborne Village came back to life Saturday in the belated spring sunshine, with a throng of Winnipeggers re-discovering almost 100 shops, restaurants and services. Three new offerings on River Avenue were attracting a lot of attention, now that the snowbanks have melted down.
WHITE LOTUS PET SPA
478 River Ave.
Patrick Maxwell's 3,000 square-foot dog spa and daycare greets pet owners with a white lotus emblem and a chandelier in the lobby. This upscale but moderately priced pet salon looks like it was designed for fashionable humans to come in for a trim. The music is definitely spa-relax style, and it even smells like a lotus, not wet ol' dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits or cats -- although all of them are welcome at this spa for grooming. Dogs attend the canine social club while their owners are at work. Guinea pigs -- not so much.
Through double doors, adorned with photos of models and perfect white dogs, we enter the pet-grooming section of the business. Happy-looking dogs and pups greet the curious intruder (moi!) and wag their tails as if to say, "So, how do you like me now?"
Across the hall is a 1,000-square-foot open space with eight kennels, where doggie pals spend the days and early evenings pursuing "intellectual and physical activities."
Intellectual, I ask? Yes, says Maxwell, like puzzles and games, where dogs have to figure out how to get at the treat.
Sounds like fun to this human.
"I started this because I was really concerned about the lack of attention and personalization in a lot of places," Maxwell says. "I had gotten a little white dog -- a toy German spitz named Vidahlia, and wanted to make sure she was groomed well and treated properly. Here, we KNOW our pets and their owners, and you will never hear 'Who's Fluffy?' at our front desk."
A maximum of eight dogs are kept in the canine social club, which is open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day except Wednesdays and Sundays.
LITTLE SISTER COFFEE MAKER
470 River Ave., lower level.
"I am the little sister in the family," says petite manager/co-owner Vanessa Stachiw. "My business partner is my sister's husband Nils Vik, who owns Parlour Coffee (468 Main St.).
The shop is tiny like she is. "We have only eight seats," she says, "But people can stream in and take-out.
"We're a specialty coffee shop, focusing on coffee and fun. We wanted to make the place cute," she says, standing behind the big counter in the bright aqua blue and white shop. She is brandishing a white enamel coffee pot and pouring water carefully on top "so the coffee flavour is released evenly." They do the pour-overs right in front of the customer, so it feels like you're at a friend's house.
Stachiw worked at Parlour and served at Segovia restaurant on Stradbrook Avenue while she went to university. Now she's capably managing this little shop with its friendly, mid-century modern feel. The menu may not be large, but the shop is very particular about how it creates the coffee for you. "We get our coffee from two roasters -- Bows & Arrows and Detour." And staff makes sure water is at the correct temperature when it is poured.
Stachiw says they had a difficult winter, business-wise. "It was a slow start. This neighbourhood is usually a walking neighbourhood, but it was cold and the streets were bare."
She has high hopes now that the sun is shining and the serious melting has begun.
So who comes to have cappucinos, lattes and straight-up delicious pour overs? "We get people in their 20s and every other age up to elderly couples, some who come every week. It reflects the neighbourhood, which is an eclectic group."
People seemed happy to get a chair and be part of the warm, friendly ambiance.
470 River Ave.
Now you can go shopping for clothes with your honey! Style Bar cares equally for men and women. The new shop, owned by clothing and jewelry designer Regan Greenwood, caters to style trend-setters who know the meaning of dressy casual.
Their highest priced pants are Joe's jeans for men and women, which sell for $200 to $250. And Greenwood is introducing men to comfort, too. She sells jeans "with a subtle stretch to the fabric. Guys say, 'Oh my god, these are the most comfortable jeans I have ever worn.' I say, 'Join the world of women!' "
Designer labels for men include Life After Denim and 7 Diamonds. For women, she has labels including Touch Me I Dare You skinny jeans in an assortment of bright spring colours, plus bold Viva Blanco jewelry and bags by Melie Bianco and other sought-after designers.
Greenwood was the winner of the young entrepreneurs award at the Dragons' Den-style event at the Manitoba Metis Federation gala March 29.
The ambitious store owner, who went to L.A. to attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Marketing, and worked at Nygard and JMJ fashions, opened her doors last fall and her business survived the toughest winter in a century. "Parking is the issue here. It was very cold and people didn't want to park far away, yet they can't park at Safeway."
But spring will be different in the Village, she says confidently. "People pick up a coffee and then they go walking." If Saturday was any indication, her extra summer staff won't be able to start soon enough!