If you’ve visited or lived in Dartmouth in the last decade or so, then you’ve definitely experienced the transformation the downtown core has undergone. Two factors influencing the change is the shop-local movement and the increasing pride residents have in their city. Luckily for us, that means that more and more business owners are choosing to start up their ventures right in the heart of downtown!
So whether you’re hunting for the hottest bargain or looking to buy furniture for your home, Dartmouth has you covered! At King’s Wharf, we love our neighbourhood. It’s full of locals committed to reigniting interest in Dartmouth and attracting more people to experience what it has to offer.
This is our list on the top five places to shop in downtown Dartmouth. And every single one of them is either within walking distance or a short drive from The Killick at King’s Wharf.
So let’s shop:
1) Bodega Boutique
With a goal to curate a selection of fashionable apparel for women and men, Bodega opened its door in late 2014 and is quickly becoming a hot shopping destination. With a display of distinct products ranging from dresses to dress socks, you can’t help but admire the vast collection in this tiny yet mighty store. Kate Hamilton, the store’s owner, wanted to change the conversation that is happening about downtown Dartmouth. “I love this city and was very blessed to grow up here within its diverse community. I started this business out of a desire to work passionately towards something I love instead of just a day job that pays the bills. I wanted to be able stay in Nova Scotia to be with my family,” she asserted.
Hamilton believes in supporting other local entrepreneurs. She’s the first retailer to carry ‘My Father’s Collection,’ a line of handmade bow ties with unique patterns started by StFX student, Demetrios Ferguson. Handmade in PEI by Demetrius and his mother, the bow ties have seen a great deal of momentum locally, even being worn by Mayor Mike Savage. She also offers Dartmouthians a platform of expression to flaunt clothing and lifestyle via the blog ‘What I Wore On Wentworth.’ Each week, it features local residents photographed sporting styles that are a mix of apparel from Bodega and their own closets. You can find Bodega Boutique at 20 Wentworth Street.
2) Kept Gifts and Housewares
With a squirrel as their logo and a memorable name, you know that Kept is going to be one quirky, fun shop! If you’re looking to gift-give (whether to yourself or others) this place definitely doesn’t disappoint. Located on 127 Portland Street, you can easily walk to it from your home at the Killick. Inside, you’ll find the store’s latest offerings: everything from bags, to accessories, to home décor.
On our visit, one thing that instantly stood out amongst the hundreds of awesome products was a City of Lakes pillow, which will step up your Dartmouth-pride game to the next level. We’re certain that it will be one piece of décor that your friends and family will talk about and maybe even snatch away. Charlotte Jewer, the store’s owner, takes pride in selecting and displaying well-crafted products that will be cherished for years to come. “Downtown Dartmouth is a strong and vibrant community that is really coming into its own. We’re happy to be an integral part of the buzz that is building on Portland Street. The secret is out!” she told us.
3) Room 152
At Room 152, you can get your hands on an authentic Michael Kors bag for half the original price. So, yes, you guessed it, this shop is the perfect spot if you’re looking for designer fashion at affordable prices. They carry various brands, from Mexx to Coach, from Kate Spade to Prada, that are sure to please local fashionistas looking to upgrade their wardrobes with a new bag, necklace or cardigan. The best part about shopping at Room 152, which was named after the street number it’s located on, is the thrill of the find.
Sarah Kingston, co-owner of the store, saw the potential of downtown Dartmouth as an emerging shopping destination and opened the store in September 2014. “It has huge potential and King’s Wharf is doing wonders for the neighbourhood. We wanted to get our foot in the door before rent prices jack up,” she said. Kingston carefully curates high-end attire and is continually striving to educate consumers about the value of investing in good quality clothing. If you happen to be a fan of Kate Middleton’s style, you will definitely love the featured Smythe blazer currently selling at the store. The Duchess of Cambridge adorned a Smythe jacket when she visited Canada back in 2011 and the Canadian brand has spiked in popularity ever since. Head over to 152 Portland Street to experience the store. We apologize in advance if you get hooked!
4) Strange Adventures
If you haven’t been to Strange Adventures yet, you’re missing out. This place is a comic book fanatic’s dream coming true. They carry an extensive collection of comic books, memorabilia, posters, costumes, themed mugs and bags. No wonder they proudly proclaim to be “Canada’s oddest award-winning comic book stores.” You don’t have to be a comic book lover to give it a visit. Although you probably will be by the time you leave.
Owner Cal Johnston opened the store in 2010 in Dartmouth with a mission to share his love for comic books with the locals. “I live in the area, a 10-minute walking distance, and it’s really nice to have stores around the area to visit and shop in,” he said. The store specializes in selling vintage comics that date back to the 1940s. Johnston mentions that he likes to nickname the downtown Dartmouth store as the “side-kick” store to the Halifax one. Appealing to all different kinds of people, from kids to working professionals, the store has something for everyone. Any fan of Breaking Bad would have instantly recognized Saul Goodman. Why not get yourself a ‘Better Call Saul’ bobble head to decorate your car’s dashboard or your work desk? You can find Strange Adventures at 101 Portland Street.
A local store with a mission that would resonate globally, P’lovers puts people and the planet before profits, and prides itself on doing so. We love that the inspiration behind the store’s name came from local knowledge as it means ‘Planet Lovers’ and is originally derived from the ‘Piping Ploves,’ an endangered species of Nova Scotia shores birds. The store first opened in Halifax in 1992 and opened its latest branch in Dartmouth last year. Owner Shelby Lendrum worked for the company for 17 years then decided to open her very own P’lovers store right here in Dartmouth. “I believe that the people on this side of the Harbour deserve the same access to services and shops,” she said when asked what inspired her to open in downtown Dartmouth.
Lendrum strongly advocates mindful living and believes that more and more people are realizing that it’s possible to do so without having to pay higher prices. The higher the public demand for environmentally friendly products, the more accessible and affordable they become. Supporting the local economy has never been easier with products ranging from local art to valley-produced cheese. One of the most popular products at the store is the Moonsnails SoapWorks, a collection of natural soaps made in PEI with quirky ingredients like Chai Tea, PEI Sand Scrub and Spiced Almond Swirl. Get your hands on the Moonsnails soaps at P’lovers located on 52 Queen Street.
There you have it! Whether you’re looking to buy designer goods or comic books, Dartmouth is home to unique local boutiques that you won’t find anywhere else. And since the Killick is in the heart of the downtown, if you live here, every single store is at your fingertips.
What’s your favourite local shopping spot in Dartmouth from our list? Any other shops you love to shop at? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter – we’d love to hear about your local shopping experience!