Meet Your Neighbour

Fig & Feta

      

If you’ve been walking around Collingwood Downtown lately, you’ll certainly notice that our historic downtown offers a wide and diverse range of dining options to choose from and one of our favourites is Fig & Feta Greek Market & Eatery.

Fig & Feta is owned and operated by Bessie and Richard Lewis who are both hands on in the daily operation of this family business.  The restaurant started off four years ago in a smaller location on Hurontario Street with just 10 seats.  “When our kids were in high school, their friends would ride their bikes to our small little café to grab some take-out for lunch.  It would warm my heart that they were spending their lunch money on good healthy food instead of fast food.” remembers Bessie. Now in their current location at 65 Hurontario Street, they can accommodate 90 patrons inside with space for an additional 50 people on their patio.

Bessie, whose parents Kathy (Katina) and Tom (Athanasious) Markou are first generation immigrants from Greece, has basically grown up in the restaurant business along with her siblings, George, Jim and Gina.  Now the tradition continues on as her own kids, Sammy, Katina and Thomas have been known to roll up their sleeves and lend a helping hand at this busy dining destination.

Bessie who absolutely loves cooking, learned everything she knows from her mother, grandmother and aunts. “If you’re born into a Greek family, you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen.  It’s the heart of every Greek household and that’s where we gather to celebrate pretty much everything.  Greeks don’t eat to live…we live to eat.” says Bessie with a smile.  “I’ve taken our traditional family recipes and added my own modern, healthy twist.  We want you to come into our restaurant and feel like you’re dining with family in a warm and inviting environment whether you’re dining solo or with your family or a group of friends for a celebration.”

Before opening up Fig & Feta, Bessie worked part time as a server in a number of local establishments which gave her an opportunity to keep working while she and Richard were raising their children.  “It was great, it gave me the opportunity to get out of the house, make some money, gain skill sets working in different types of restaurants…everything from the hustle and bustle of a busy breakfast place to finer dining and most importantly, it gave me the opportunity to connect with people.  I love offering great customer service and I always took ownership of my section as if it were my own restaurant, even when I was working for other people.  I took tremendous pride in making sure that every customer was taken care of to the best of my ability.”

Today Fig & Feta employs a team of 25 people lead by Richard and Bessie.  “The number one thing about leading a team is that you have to treat your staff with the same respect that you would like to receive and also demonstrate by example with an excellent work ethic.  That in turn translates to dedicated staff that will serve your customers properly and be loyal to you.  If you treat your staff properly, they will stay with you.  I also love working with my husband Richard, he’s the best business partner anyone could ask for.” adds Bessie.

The Marketplace at Fig & Feta has recently expanded as that part of the business has grown significantly over the past two years, due to customer demand.  Everything available is either made in-house or imported from Greece including a fine selection of Greek wine available by the glass or to take home by the bottle. “The vision for the Marketplace is all Richard.  His many years of retail merchandising experience definitely came into play when we were putting this all together.” notes Bessie.

Also well known for their catering, Fig & Feta can pretty much accommodate any size of gathering from a small intimate gathering to a huge backyard bash.

Fun fact:  Bessie’s favourite menu items are the Beet and Feta Salad topped with Chicken Gyros, Lamb Souvlaki or the Moussaka.

Greek lesson: Inside the dining room at Fig & Feta there are two blackboards offering a lesson in basic Greek phrases.  Something fun and educational to do while you’re enjoying some delicious appetizers.

You can find Fig & Feta at 65 Hurontario Street, in Collingwood Downtown.  Visit their website to check out their menus on-line. www.figandfeta.ca/ or follow them on Instagram at www.instagram.com/fig_feta_collingwood/?hl=en

Yamas! (Cheers!)

The Paint Bar

     

Welcome to The Paint Bar, a bright spacious studio space for kids and adults to explore their creativity in Collingwood Downtown. The Paint Bar offers: paint your own pottery, party packages, kid’s night out, classes with glass fusion, canvas painting, clay workshops, summer camps for kids and more!

Victoria Cook, the owner has been operating The Paint Bar for the past 4 years and with the recent expansion into their new location, they’re now able to offer expanded programming in their 2,000 square foot studio with a private party room that can accommodate 16 – 20 people.  “Our private party room is perfect for birthday parties, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, any kind of party really.  It’s a great space for getting together with friends and family of all ages in a creative way.” says Victoria.  When you book the private party room guests are welcome to bring their own refreshments or The Paint Bar can take care of that for you.  Keeping it in the family, their main pizza supplier is Dominos Pizza which is owned and operated by Victoria’s mom Sarah.  If you’re a bit of a foodie, Victoria can arrange for a charcuterie board from Dags & Willow, one of her favourite shops in Collingwood Downtown.

Fun fact:  With their new studio space, The Paint Bar now has an in-house café offering a lovely selection of hot and cold beverages including specialty coffees and snacks.

Walk-ins are welcome and you can also reserve your space in advance on-line or by phone.  If you’re looking to paint some pottery, you can select from over 100 different pieces.  Everything from piggy banks to jewellery boxes, mugs or dishes, seasonal gift items and so much more.  Recent supply chain issues pushed Victoria to start creating her own pieces right in the studio to make sure that they had enough product on the shelves.  “I have a goal to have 25% of the pieces we offer for painting made right here in the studio.” notes Victoria.

If you’re feeling crafty or maybe want to try your hand at a creative technique that’s new to you, Victoria and her team are here to help you through the process step by step.  For more information about the products and services offered by The Paint Bar located at 191 Hurontario Street, upper level, visit their website thepaintbar.ca/.  You can follow them on facebook at www.facebook.com/thepaintbarcollingwood/ or Instagram www.instagram.com/the_paintbar/

The Hive

   

The Hive is a lifestyle retail store in Collingwood Downtown inspired by Georgian Bay.  Step into this lovely cottage boutique and you’ll find a wonderful selection of home décor, apothecary, jewellery, apparel, sunglasses and so much more.

As we step into spring, you may be looking to refresh your favourite room or a cozy nook and The Hive is the perfect place to find the accent piece that suits your lifestyle. Claire Russell, General Manager and Morgan Ballard, Retail Associate are two lovely ladies ready to assist you with great guidance and fresh ideas that are right on trend.

“Our most popular item is our in-house apparel designed and made right here in Canada.” notes Claire Russell, General Manager of The Hive. “We want people to know that there is great shopping right here on Pine Street in Collingwood Downtown.  With our neighbours, Bent Taco and The Pine Eco + Refillery just steps away, Pine Street is a wonderful retail and dining destination unto itself.”

Simply put, The Hive is a collection of people who are inspired by Georgian Bay and want to share that passion with you.  The Hive was founded by Lauren Patchett in November of 2018 with their first location in Honey Harbour. The Collingwood location is open year round from Wednesday – Friday 11AM – 5PM, Saturday 10AM – 6PM and Sunday 11AM – 4PM.

Gorgeous linen throw pillows, a new outfit or accessory or a book all about breakfast, these are just some of the things you can find at The Hive in Collingwood Downtown.

You can shop in person or on-line thehivehoneyharbour.com/.  The Hive offers free shipping on orders over $125.  Follow them on facebook at www.facebook.com/The-Hive-505269913317525 or on Instagram at www.instagram.com/shop_thehive/

Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts

   

The Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts is a creative hub that has been bringing the arts community together for over 47 years in Collingwood Downtown.  With over 200 artists and artisans making up the membership, they’ve just relocated to their new location at 65 Simcoe Street.

Foundation Manager, Susan Cook who has been at the helm for the past 13 years says her passion and creativity comes from putting together events and interacting with the arts community.  “We’re absolutely delighted with our new space, which is significantly larger than the space we had before.  We’re able to showcase more of our members’ artwork, and we’re also a resource hub for local artists and artisans. We’re have enough space to be able to have a table allowing us to gather and collaborate with each other.” says Susan. “Our mission is to inspire excellence in visual arts through educational and creative opportunities.”

“Low Down Bar provided us with amazing support during our move. We have developed a great working relationship with one another. Simcoe Street businesses as a whole are supportive of one another and we are looking forward to future collaborations.”

Erin Coholan, a recent graduate of Ryerson for Image Arts, has just joined the foundation in the role of Creative Coordinator and her focus will be on program development, coordinating the shop by working with the membership to change up the artwork based on programming shifts and seasonal changes.  Erin will also be stepping up the foundation’s social media presence.

The Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts hosts annual juried art shows which now have a youth component as well as a digital arts category. “It’s important for us to represent artists regardless of their age or where they are in their artistic journey and it’s also important that we adapt to the needs of artists as they embrace changing technology.” notes Susan.

Did you know? You don’t need to be an artist to join the foundation.  Individual annual memberships are only $50 and family memberships are $75 per year.

New this summer, the foundation will host a new Arts Market in Tremont Square every Saturday from 10AM – 3PM from June 2nd through to August 27th.  You can look forward to art demonstrations, guest artists, local art and artisan vendors and live music which will tie in very nicely as a downtown Collingwood attraction along with the Saturday morning Farmers’ market.

The Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts is a great place to source out art from emerging artists.  For more information about the BMFA, their programming and annual awards please visit their website at www.bmfa.on.ca/.  You can follow them on facebook at www.facebook.com/bmfafoundationarts or Instagram at www.instagram.com/bmfafoundationarts/@bmfafoundationarts

Hello Pottery

Aysia Garbe opened Hello Pottery in November 2020 with a vision to provide a space where people can learn how to create with raw clay.  The studio offers a bright an airy space where people can try their hand at something new.

Aysia offers clay classes for both adults and children.  “When you enroll in one of our 6-week classes, which are focused on hand building and wheelwork, you’ll end up with 15 – 30 pieces of pottery that are both microwave and dishwasher safe.” advises Asyia. “I’m so stoked to be able to offer classes on a regular and consistent basis.”

Hello Pottery also offers one-time guided workshops where you can test the waters and see if this is the right creative outlet you’ve been looking for.  They will guide you through a lesson focused on making one to two quality items and you can try making anything from a mug, to a vase, or even a handheld watering can.

Aysia learned how to create with clay from local artisan, Jill Usher and while she was attending the University of Guelph for marketing she taught clay classes at the Guelph Community Pottery Centre.

Interesting fact: Clay is the oldest known ceramic material. Prehistoric humans discovered the useful properties of clay and used it for making pottery. Some of the earliest pottery shards have been dated to around 14,000 BC, and clay tablets were the first known writing medium.

There’s also a lovely retail side to Hello Pottery where Aysia carries a curated selection of house and gift wares created by female entrepreneurs.

“The support I’ve felt from the Collingwood Downtown business community has been incredible, especially the Business Improvement Area, which has been really helpful in helping launch and create awareness for my business.” reflects Aysia. “If you’re going to open a new business, especially as the past couple of years have taught us, you’ve got to be prepared for every possible scenario.  Obviously you can’t predict everything that will happen, but it’s a really good idea to have a Plan B for the best possible outcomes and also for the worst.”

If you’re feeling like trying something new and creative, would like to try your hand at a potter’s wheel or hand building with clay, check out some of the classes currently being offered say hello to pottery www.hellopotteryco.com/.  You can also find them on facebook at www.facebook.com/hellopotteryco/ or on Instagram at www.instagram.com/hellopotteryco/

Aysia, a bit of a serial entrepreneur, also owns a full service digital creative agency, Mayka Marketing + Creative Co. https://www.maykamarketingandcreativeco.com/ and has amassed quite an impressive client list.  They work alongside their clients in Collingwood, Barrie, the GTA, and Guelph to create exceptional branding, e-commerce, and social media strategies that captivate customers and spark sales. May-ka significant impression with a marketing initiative that’s totally tailored to you.

Pine Eco + Refillery Boutique

                

Mother-daughter team Paige and Kendall moved to Collingwood embarking on a journey to live more sustainably and they had a dream of opening a store together that would make it easy for anyone to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle and get back to the basics.  They opened the doors to Pine Eco + Refillery Boutique in May of 2020 and carry a variety of sustainable home and body goods alongside a curated selection of refillable products that are made in Canada.

“We believe in living naturally. And we’ve worked hard to craft a space where sustainability and elegance coexist. We are constantly evolving and continue to research and learn more about synthetic and natural ingredients so we can offer the best quality, all-natural products from companies run by mindful individuals who care about what they create and the impact their products have.” says Paige. “This means less packaging, less chemicals, less waste, and less stress. Everything in Pine can be refilled, reused or recycled back into nature at the end of its life.”

“Sustainable means not only less waste and refilling, it’s also about supporting Canadian small businesses.” adds Kendall. “We’re currently working with Bishop Botanicals on a new lotion that will be available soon.  It’s fun to work with another mother-daughter team and it’s important to us to support other small businesses in Downtown Collingwood.  We love being able to refer shoppers to other stores like Haven or The Hive, or if someone is looking for a bite to eat, we usually send them on over to Sol Kitchen or Gibsons. We feel that a lot of local small business owners here go out of their way to send customers our way and we enjoy returning the favour.”

Pine Eco + Refillery boutique also offers a lovely selection of low impact lifestyle items that are sustainably sourced alternatives to plastic and single-use products. They’ve just brought in a beautiful selection of houseplants and research has shown that having houseplants offers many benefits including:  Improving your mood, lowering stress and anxiety, boosting healing, improved air quality and easing respiratory ailments.

Sustainability tip:  This mother-daughter team certainly does their research and shares their knowledge through their very informative Pine Journal shoppineboutique.com/blogs/the-pine-journal.

Spring is the season to refresh, renew and clean house. A visit to Pine Eco + Refillery Boutique we get you well on your way to living a more sustainable lifestyle. You can find Pine Eco + Refillery Boutique at 38 Pine Street in Downtown Collingwood for in-store shopping and you can also shop on-line shoppineboutique.com/.  Follow them on facebook www.facebook.com/shoppineboutique or Instagram www.instagram.com/shoppineboutique/ @shoppineboutique.

Nicky’s Doughnuts & Ice Cream

              

How Sweet it is!

From the moment Sam Holwell and Caesar Guinto opened the doors to Nicky’s Doughnuts & Ice Cream at 10AM on January 15, 2021, they’ve enjoyed a steady stream of customers eager to get their hands on some decadent sweets that just might be too good to share.

Sam and Caesar both have a long history in the food and beverage industry and found their careers and futures hanging in the balance of uncertainty when the dining scene was put into a tailspin two years ago. It was time for them to get moving on a plan that would enable them to get their feet back on solid ground.

The concept for Nicky’s started with a logo and pretty soon it was clear that there was no turning back for Sam and Caesar. From start to finish, the business model, planning process, commercial lease negotiations and commercial kitchen build took 10 months.  Caesar was given the nickname ‘Nicky’ (from his middle name ‘Dominic’) as a child, which is when his love of doughnuts began so the business name came very naturally.

How early do you have to wake up when you own a donut shop?  They start their day at 2AM and the doughnuts creation process takes about 6 hours from start to finish.  They produce between 200 – 400 doughnuts per day, depending on which day of the week it is and each donut is a hand decorated work of art.

“We’re basically having our dinner when everyone else is having lunch so dining out in the evening isn’t really an option for us right now.  We really appreciate being able to get something to go from either Baked & Picked or Later Pizza.” notes Caesar.

In addition to doughnuts, they also churn French style custard based ice cream using Sheldon Creek Dairy products and create flavor profiles that will put your taste buds over the top.  Vegan options are always available at Nicky’s and once in a while, they offer American style ice cream just for something different.

Best advice for someone starting a new business? “It’s really important to know and understand your target market and understand the ebb and flow of customers, especially when tourism is a driving factor because you have to plan for the shoulder season.  You also really need to understand your cost of goods sold.  It’s not just the cost of ingredients that you have to consider when you’re pricing your products, you’ve got to include every little detail even the paper that we use to line the pans and the cost of packaging.” advises Sam.  “We feel grateful for the amazing community support we’ve received.”

Fun fact:  In addition to 38 years of food and beverage industry experience, Caesar is also an accomplished musician, was a tenor in a choir in Ireland and can play the drums, piano and trumpet.

Nicky’s Doughnuts & Ice Cream is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10AM – 5PM and you can find them at 10 Third Street in Collingwood Downtown.

Hot tip:  Follow this Pop & Pop doughnut shop on facebook at  www.facebook.com/Nickys-Doughnuts-Ice-Cream-101767681905044 or Instagram at www.instagram.com/nickysdoughnutsandicecream/ because as a sweet surprise and delight  that’s where they announce new flavours of donuts and ice cream as well as when on-line ordering is available at www.nickysdoughnutsandicecream.com/

Blue Mountain Tea Company

                         

Seven years ago, during a ski trip out west, Katherine Maxwell and her step-daughter ventured into a tea shop in Banff where the two both found the perfect assortment of teas and herbs to satisfy their divergent needs. That night Katherine, with no entrepreneurial background, and fully enmeshed in a corporate career, woke with a start and began working on a business plan to create a similar experience back home in Collingwood.

The doors opened in December of 2015 in Collingwood Downtown in their original location and expanded to their new home in November 2020. Now in their 7th year of business, Blue Mountain Tea Company is a loose leaf tea emporium inspired by the desire to bring joy and wellness to the community, one cup at a time. They carry a wide variety of organics, herbals, single estate, fermented and blended teas to soothe, heal and inspire you as well as a lovely selection of tea ware.  You can also find Collingwood Kombucha on tap at the Blue Mountain Tea Company and if you’re out and about in Collingwood Downtown you can find Blue Mountain Tea available on pour at Gibson & Co. and Summit Social House.

“When you come in the door, our goal is to help you get exactly what you need to get through your day. We want people to feel better.  Our staff is very knowledgeable and love helping people learn about tea and herbs.” says Katherine.

Katherine is very much looking forward to getting back into the community and planning face to face events.  She offers “Tea Talks” which are a specific dive into the health and wellness benefits of tea and can range from 1 – 3 hours in length.  She’s also focusing on her website, working to replicate the custom experience you have in the store, online.  They are close to launching a “tea oracle” quiz that will help you narrow down the options to meet your specific desires.

Fun facts:  Most people assume that white, green, oolong, black and puerh teas come from different varieties of  a plant (in the way wine comes from different grapes) , but in reality, they all stem from the same plant, camellia sinensis, and it is how the leaf is processed that determines what it becomes . After water, tea is the most popular beverage in the world.

Katherine, who grew up in Ottawa, moved to Collingwood 17 years ago, after falling in love with the four season lifestyle, experiencing it through the eyes of her partner whose family has been in the area since the 1800s. .  A huge fan of everything outdoors, she enjoys an hour of skiing  first thing every morning in the winter and during the warmer months is either out riding her horse, her mountain bike  or enjoying  all that Georgian Bay has to offer before she starts her workday.

If you find yourself in need of a bit of a pick me up, are feeling anxious or stressed or just want to discover more about tea, then a visit the Blue Mountain Tea Company is exactly what you need.

Visit the Blue Mountain Tea Company at 167 Hurontario Street or on line at bluemountainteaco.com. They offer free shipping in Canada on orders over $65.  www.facebook.com/bluemountainteaco or Instagram www.instagram.com/bluemountainteaco/ @bluemountainteaco

Christie’s Clothing

         

Christie’s Clothing is all stocked up with fresh new fashions for Spring and Summer.

From its intriguing window displays to the comfortable surroundings of the store, Christie’s is focused on satisfying its customers. For more than 45 years, this Collingwood family business has provided a wide range of options to the discerning shopper seeking fine quality, interesting fashions offered at competitive prices.

On a stroll through Historic Downtown Collingwood, we noticed that the window displays at Christie’s had just been refreshed so we popped in to find out what was new.

Michael Christie and his sister Dana denBok who own and operate the business were busy receiving, unpacking and merchandising new spring and summer fashions.  “We’re getting new stock in every day now and we expect to be busy leading up to prom season. Essentially, we offer classic apparel for men, women and children and we specialize in custom suits at all price points.” notes Dana.

“Over the past two years, supply chain issues have lead to stock shortages so it’s a good idea to start planning a bit in advance this year for graduation or summer weddings for the best selection, but it only takes us a few days turn-around time for suit alterations.” advises Michael.

One of our favourite things about shopping at Christie’s is the exceptional customer service.  Dana, Michael and his wife Sandra go above and beyond.  This is especially helpful when you’re shopping for a gift.  You know you want something special, but are just not quite sure what and their complimentary gift wrapping ties everything up with a nice neat bow.

Fun fact:  The first thing Michael had to learn when he started working for his father Ed twenty-eight years ago was to sew.

Christie’s Clothing is conveniently located in the heart of Collingwood’s historic downtown district, just steps away from Clerkson’s Home Store www.clerksons.com/  where Sandra likes to shop and after a busy day Sandra and Michael like to enjoy a nibble and a few sips at Prime Seven Nine prime7nine.ca/

Ed Christie opened the store in 1976 with an approach to fashion retailing that continues today. Carefully selected, high quality menswear and women’s fashions fill the racks and shelves. The array is diverse, catering to the multi-faceted lifestyle of our community.

Find Christie’s Clothing www.christiesclothing.com/ at 91 Hurontario Street and you can follow them on facebook www.facebook.com/ChristiesClothing.  Open Monday to Saturday from 11AM – 4PM.  For private appointments outside of store hours call (705) 445-2761, text (705) 351-2761 or e-mail [email protected]

Sõl Kitchen

                         

Sõl Kitchen, a vibrant and bright café in Collingwood Downtown is a beehive of activity these days.  As soon as you step inside you’re greeted by wonderful customer service, the beautiful noise of cheerful, lively conversations and wonderful aromas.

Now in its eighth year of operation, the vision behind the restaurant was to be able to provide a vibrant space for people to come together and enjoy delicious food and drink. Sõl Kitchen certainly delivers.

Owner/chef Silann Kaduc and her team have been hard at work over the past two years. “Now that we’re fully licensed we’ve had some fun developing an interesting wine list and offer consignment wines that you can’t find at the liquor store, available by the glass or to take home by the bottle.  We’ve also expanded the retail market considerably, which is something we always wanted to do from the beginning.” says Silann.

The Market offers at least 16 different types of soup, frozen entrees including lasagna, pesto salmon, chicken stew, beef stew, vegetable curry, chili and a variety of pastas. You can also find frozen chocolate hazelnut twists, croissants (even vegan ones) and gluten free, vegan muffin batters.  Everything is made from scratch.  Highly recommended is the Venus Chicken: hormone and antibiotic free chicken breast, stuffed with spinach, artichoke hearts, Asiago and Parmesan cheeses, fresh herbs and garlic, egg washed and dredged in Panko bread crumbs.  It’s an outstanding entrée especially when paired with their roasted red pepper sauce.  Don’t forget the garlic cheese baguette!

“With the latest menu update, some of our long standing menu items have been refreshed, giving them a voice to what Sõl is.  We value fresh ingredients with clean vibrant flavours.  Our menu is always evolving.” notes Silann who has over 25 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, “and we’re very excited about our new Sõl Bõls.  We have three different ones on the menu right now and we like to play around with the flavours.  We’ll typically run a new one as a special before it takes a permanent place on the menu.”

Fun fact:  When Sõl Kitchen first opened, the original dishes were hand made by Silann in her backyard pottery and glass studio.

We asked Silann if she has any good advice for someone looking to get into business as a first time entrepreneur and she offers “Be confident in your vision and true to your own values because you’ll get lots of advice and it can be easy to get off track if you don’t have a good solid vision of your own to start with. Also, it’s very important to be part of your community and in tune with the people on your team because they’re going to be the ones that will be your support system when things can get tough.”

When Silann does take time off she enjoys taking walks on the Georgian Trail with her best pal Otcho, a rescue dog from Mexico and she also loves the independent and diverse dining scene that Collingwood Downtown has to offer with Low Down Cocktail Bar a personal favourite.

The next time you’re thinking of dining out, check out Sõl Kitchen at 19 Hurontario Street.  They’re open from Wednesday through Saturday, 11AM – 5PM.  Find a cozy seat, admire the original works of art by Kaz Jones and Andrea Rinaldo, both well known local artists, and enjoy a delicious meal. You can visit their website at solkitchencollingwood.ca/ to check out their menus and follow them on facebook at www.facebook.com/solkitchencollingwood or Instagram www.instagram.com/solkitchencollingwood/

Collingwood Art School & Alexander Art Supplies

                         

Local artist Jason Alexander has created quite the hub of artistic energy in his studio and art supply space located at 77 Simcoe Street in Collingwood Downtown.  One side of the building is home to his art studio where he teaches, and the other side, his shop where you can find a vast selection of merchandise.  Known for stocking high quality Canadian made canvasses at very competitive prices, Jason offers art supplies suitable for every level of artistic talent whether you’re just starting out or have been a seasoned artist for decades.

Born and raised in downtown Toronto, Jason studied at the Ontario College of Art as well as abroad in Florence, Italy for four years and he can even make his own paint.  When he was a seasonal resident to the area, he had an art studio in Toronto as well as a studio at the family cottage on Georgian Bay before moving to Collingwood full time. “One of the first things I did when I moved here full time was to join the BMFA, Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts in 1991.  I participated in their art tour that year and have been doing so ever since.  They are an amazing group of talented and enthusiastic artists and artisans with wonderful creative energy.” notes Jason.

 “Being situated on Creative Simcoe Street has its advantages for sure, I love that after teaching a class, we can all head on over to Low Down Cocktail Bar or Prime Seven Nine just a few steps away and enjoy some drinks and snacks together”. “Downtown Collingwood has so many unique and interesting businesses.” As the father of a toddler Jason enjoys a trip to Minds Alive www.mindsalive.ca/ every once in a while and his favourite place to grab a coffee is Mad Dogs Vinyl Café www.facebook.com/maddogsvinylcafe/.

Over the past two years, Jason has had to tap into his own creative resources and has gone so far as to deliver art supplies to customers in their cars in the dead of winter.  Naturally, he’s thrilled to be able to offer classes once again in his studio.  His classes run on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 1PM – 4PM, Thursday evenings and alternating Saturdays and include all the supplies you need.  Classes are offered to budding artists from 14 years up. “My oldest student was 95” he notes with a chuckle.

“If you’re going to run your own business, you need to have a dream, be patient, work smart and be prepared to put in long hours” advises Jason, and we’re looking forward to the opening of his next venture, The Annex Gallery.  The gallery will be located in the same space and he’ll be busy shuffling things around over the next few weeks.  Follow Jason on Instagram www.instagram.com/xanderpaintings/ or facebook www.facebook.com/jason.alexander.31924792 to stay tuned in with his progress.  Visit www.alexanderartmaterials.com/ for more information about art supplies and classes.

 

Crave The Chocolatier

                        

Leading up to Valentine’s Day a visit to Crave the Chocolatier in Collingwood Downtown is a must!  Sheri Gabriele, the Chocolatier, is now in her 17th year of business with this unique shop where she hand crafts the most delicious bites of chocolate heaven using the finest Belgian chocolate.

‘Crave was definitely influenced by my husband John, who always wanted to own a candy store and has the heart of a child at times’ notes Sheri. ‘In the early days, staffing issues led to me running the store and I never went back from there’.

Sheri loves having a retail store in the heart of such a gorgeous and historic downtown that offers a wonderful array of unique shopping experiences with independent merchants you just can’t find anywhere else. As a small business owner herself, Sheri makes a point of shopping locally whenever possible.  A favourite spot for lunch, 98 Super Panda, is just a few steps away from her shop.

The last couple of years have definitely been challenging while she’s had to navigate all of the shut-downs, keeping her staff and her customers safe and supply chain issues.  ‘I’m extremely grateful for the community support we’ve received at Crave, it’s been really incredible.  We’re very thankful that we’ve been able to keep the lights on and our sanity in check.’

Sheri really enjoys the fun challenge of creating something new for her customers to sink their teeth into and her favourite bon bons are the Strawberry/Banana Truffles and the Orange Truffles.

You can find Crave the Chocolatier at 62 Hurontario Street, and you can follow Sheri on www.facebook.com/CraveTheChocolatier

If you’d like to send someone a really decadent gift basket or flowers and add in some chocolates from Crave, you can order it on-line through her neighbours at Collingwood Flowers & Home Décor. https://collingwoodflowers.com

The Curly Willow Eatery

                   

With over 65 combined years in the restaurant business, Linda and Mike Sloat serve up delicious lunch and dinner options from their cozy eatery in Collingwood Downtown.

The couple originally moved to Collingwood following a career opportunity, but soon after arriving decided to once again, launch out on their own, and they opened a small café at the back of a retail store on Hurontario Street.  Their reputation for delicious meals, reasonable price points and excellent customer service grew quickly and soon had them in search of a larger location to meet customer demand.  Today you can find The Curly Willow at 141 Pine St. in Collingwood Downtown with 30 seats indoors and an additional 30 seats on their lovely back patio.

For out of town guests, the couple offers The Willow Suite Collingwood Retreat, a two bedroom suite in the newly renovated upstairs apartment that can be booked through airbnb. www.airbnb.ca/rooms/50831188/

“Running a restaurant over the past two years has certainly presented challenges and we’re so thankful for our incredible staff, loyal customers and local suppliers like Andrew’s Copy Centre.  For anyone thinking of starting their own business it’s really important to consider an industry where you’ve had hands on experience with something that you’ll really enjoy.” Says Chef Linda.

Having dined at The Curly Willow many times, we can definitely recommend the Lobster Grilled Cheese, Shrimp Risotto, Mushroom Ravioli and the Filet Mignon.  You can check out their current menu here thecurlywilloweatery.com/, follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thecurlywillowcollingwood or Instagram at www.instagram.com/thecurlywilloweatery/ @curlywilloweatery.

The Curly Willow is open from Tuesday through to Friday for lunch and dinner and on Saturdays for private functions like birthday parties or celebrations of life.  Reservations are highly recommended.

Georgian Frame Gallery

                             

The Georgian Frame Gallery in Collingwood Downtown has been helping us decorate the walls of our homes and offices for over 39 years.  The business was started by Don Nicolson after moving his family from Brantford to Thornbury.  Like many other families who now live here full time, the Nicolsons were weekend skiers who fell in love with the area and then decided to make the move to being full time residents.  Don combined his experience as a professional photographer with his love of woodworking and opened the Georgian Frame Gallery in 1983.  Joined by his daughter Margot Nicolson-Trott in 1992, they worked side-by-side until Margot purchased the business in April of 1998.

With over 3,000 frame options to choose from, Margot says what she loves most about her job is the creative aspect of framing.  “Taking someone’s treasured memories and preserving them.  I make sure that the proper conservation methods with respect to the materials and methods are being used. Whether it’s a race bib or a hockey jersey, a photograph or a work of art, you want to ensure that the process is completely reversible with the original integrity of the object being framed is preserved.”

Margot loves owning a business in Collingwood Downtown because of the people. “Collingwood is very much a community and it’s wonderful when the grandchildren of customers are now coming in and having their treasures framed here.  Working with three generations of customers is not something every small business gets to experience.”  

Supporting other small businesses in town is something that’s important to Margot and her husband Cam, who owns Trott’s Sports Excellence, located a block down the street.  Together they enjoy the diverse dining scene in Collingwood, in particular, Al Carbon a Peruvian Restaurant that recently opened downtown.  Dags & Willow Fine Cheese and Gourmet Shop, a foodie paradise and the Body Bar by Kalola Botanicals are also favourite shopping destinations for the Nicolson-Trotts.

Fun fact!  Margot met her husband Cam at a Collingwood BIA meeting which was being held at the back of the Bamboo Terrace (which is now Al Carbon) 28 years ago.

Margot says that “anyone that is looking to start up a new business really needs to know their numbers in relation to their industry and the average cost of running a business per square foot.  Do your research in advance and make sure you understand what the gap in the marketplace for the products and services that you will bring to the community.”

Perhaps you’re considering a decorating project or maybe you’ve been purging and have come across a family treasure that deserves to be properly preserved, the Georgian Frame Gallery can definitely help with that.

Margot is a Certified Picture Framer and also belongs to the PPFA (Professional Picture Framers’ Association) which is great for staying up to speed with industry best practices and techniques.

You can find the Georgian Frame Gallerygeorgianframegallery.ca/ at 172 Hurontario St. in Collingwood and follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/georgianframegallery/.

Shea Organics

                               

Shea Organics, a hidden gem in Collingwood Downtown offers  wide range of luxurious beauty and skin care products that are Canadian made, eco-friendly and sustainable.  This wonderful spot also offers three different types of facials along with a lovely selection of lifestyle products and jewellery.

Shea Organics is owned and operated by Shay Riordan and her wife Katie who recently celebrated their 9th anniversary together and raising their 15 month old son. Shay and Katie met on-line and the first time Shay ever visited Collingwood, it was to meet Katie in person.  “I remember hopping off the Greyhound Bus on Second Street and seeing the wonderful Busy Wagons mural located on the northwest corner of Hurontario and Second Streets.  Two days after returning from our honeymoon at an eco-retreat in Guatemala, we walked into the Small Business Enterprise Centre to get started on a business plan with the help of Tim Newton.” recalls Shay.

“We started off as an on-line business at first and we love the fresh, bright welcoming feel we’ve created in our space here, we got the keys to this shop 4 years ago.  Everyone tells us how much they love the look and feel of our shop, our customers tell us that they feel at home here.”

Shay has a degree in horticulture and is a certified esthetician. “When we were sourcing product in preparation for opening, it was very important to us that we support the little guy, primarily female led businesses and businesses in the LGBT or BIPOC communities.”

Shay and Katie love to support other small business in Collingwood Downtown “We love so many of the small business in town that it’s impossible to list them all, Blink Eyewear www.blink-eyewear.com/ , Maker’s Outpost https://www.themakersoutpost.ca/ and https://www.shophommefemme.com/ are among our favourites and we love to grab a bite from Baked and Pickled. bakedandpickled.com/ .”

“We’re also always trying to cross promote through things like on-line give-a-ways or spotlighting other small businesses on our social media channels.”

The ultimate business goal for Shay and Shea Organics is to make someone’s day a bit better and help people feel beautiful inside and out.

Shea Organics sheaorganicscanada.com/ is located at 11 Ontario Street in Collingwood Downtown and you can follow them on Facebook www.facebook.com/SheaOrganicsCanada/  and Instagram www.instagram.com/sheaorganicscanada/ .

Tesoro

                               

If you ask any local “where’s a great place to eat in Collingwood?”, Tesoro restaurant in Collingwood Downtown is always mentioned as folks list off their favourite places to dine.  Owned and operated by Joelle & Winston Rogers, this charming restaurant offers a traditional Italian menu with a wide range of appetizers, entrées and basic Italian specialties including gourmet thin crust pizza. The food is delicious, the service is impeccable and on the walls of the restaurant you’ll find many beautiful original works of art by local artist Andrew Peycha.

Joelle and Winston moved to Collingwood when their two children were small, primarily to provide them with a healthier environment to thrive than what was offered in the big city.  The family lives on an 11 acre hobby farm with fruit trees, berry bushes, chickens, fainting goats, and a Silky Rooster named Pedro. Joelle also has an apiary where she produces her own honey for their additional business, The Batteaux Creek Honey Co.  They decided to open a restaurant because it was a natural fit with Joelle’s experience in the food and beverage industry and her interest in how food fits in with a healthy living lifestyle.

The restaurant, which is inside what used to be an old schoolhouse, has now been in business for 20 years and for 16 years Chef Tony Vanderwal has been Joelle’s right hand man.  “We’ve offered our signature Chicken Supreme, Spaghetti & Sicilian Meatballs and many other favourite dishes since day one, and when we add a new menu item or feature, we consider feedback, suggestions and requests from our loyal customers.  Chef Tony is pretty incredible and comes up with some amazing dishes like our Cioppino Hot Pot. He really does his research.  Flavour profiles and presentation are extremely important to him.  He’s a chef and he creates his artwork with food instead of paint.” says Joelle.

How have they survived the past two years with all of the restrictions, supply chain issues and staff shortages? Take-out was already in place and their food travels extremely well.  Also, they had already established Tesoro Mercato right next door, which is a fantastic European market and deli. The Mercato started when customers asked if they could buy the pasta sauce & meatballs because they couldn’t get a reservation or wanted to have items for a later date.  Joelle put a freezer and a few shelves in place in Avalanche, their little gelato parlor next to the restaurant, and the Mercato was born.  Joelle soon took over the space next door and today the Mercato offers over 100 house made products, including fresh pasta made daily, frozen entrees, pastas, soups, desserts, hot and cold deli sandwiches as well as a wide selection of specialty foods and giftware.  If you’re vegan or gluten free, this is a great place to find some really yummy things.

Joelle and Winston are incredibly thankful for their loyal customers and the very supportive community that is Collingwood.  When they do go out for a bite, they particularly like to support other small businesses like the Espresso Post and The Tremont.

We asked Joelle if she had any words of advice for someone thinking of starting up their own business and she said “Do your homework, expect to be married to your business, be dedicated and get ready to roll up your sleeves because it is work hard.”

Today, the restaurant is open from Tuesday to Saturday 4:30PM – 10PM for dine-in and take-out and the Mercato is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10AM – 6PM.

Visit their websitetesororestaurant.ca/ for more information and to check out their menus.

Follow them on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/TesoroCollingwood/ or www.facebook.com/TesoroMercato and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/tesoro_restaurant/ or www.instagram.com/tesoromercato/

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