But this year I have a Plan B.
This afternoon, it was raining icicles and I was running towards the warmth of the car parked on Gottingen Street. With my hand on the door handle moments away from shelter, I looked across the street and there was the sign "Plan B Merchants Co-op" luring me inside. I had heard the name many times in passing but couldn't remember exactly what it was. I weighed my options between enveloping myself in the cranked up heat of the car or satisfying my curiosity. I'm glad to say the latter choice prevailed.
Inside I met a young lady wearing funky glasses and a colourful skirt rearranging a mannequin that looked like it was from out of the 70s.
"What is this place?" I asked, feeling somewhat foolish.
She explained to me that it was a co-op of about 50 merchants selling vintage, second hand and hand-crafted, artistic items all under one roof.
"Look around!" she encouraged.
I did and simultaneously was reminded of Kessington Market in Toronto and the underground shopping markets I had visited in Hong Kong.
If you haven't been to Plan B yet, you may be picturing some chaotic flea market. But this communal department store was so intriguingly, tastily designed. Each 'shop' or section transitioned nicely into the next. While one corner had hand-sewn baby clothes, another had antique dishes and figurines. One room off the hallway was orderly filled with cassette tapes while another nook had records.
Everything imaginable, from crafted finger puppets and beads to instruments, funky clothing and curios (think skeletons or real stuffed animals hanging on the wall) was found inside this 2180 Gottingen Street locale. Even in the back, there was a room, called the Parentheses Gallery, hosting an art exhibit and a very cozy cafe. I just read it is the only establishment in town to sell Alan the Soda Jerks Homemade Soda Pop (including lime and banana flavours)!
So this year all of my holiday shopping will take place at Plan B. So Aunt Pearl may get a feather boa and Uncle Ned may get a mask. Ma and Pa may get matching muu-muus and little Tommy may get a taxidermied creature. Who knows what I'll find? But this year, Christmas shopping is going to be fun!
The next places I need to visit in the north end of Halifax are the Anchor Archive Zine Library and the neat places described in this Macleans article. Have you been?