Tag Archives: new business

Cosplay store opens in downtown Hamilton

What started as a booth at an anime convention five years ago has blossomed into a bricks and mortar store for sisters Toni and Jo Thomas in downtown Hamilton.

Toni Thomas holding a pillow in Cosplay-FTW.

Toni Thomas holding a pillow in Cosplay-FTW.

Cosplay-FTW (for the win) has finally opened its doors on King Street East after moving from its small Mountain location.

“Though there was high traffic in terms of cars and vehicles (on the Mountain), there wasn’t too many people walking in from the streets,” explained Toni Thomas. “The store itself was also really small, it was like a closet. Four people would be in there and it would be packed like a tiny elevator. We thought it was about time to expand to a bigger location.”

The store focuses on selling cosplay accessories, which is short for ‘costume play’ where people dress up as their favourite fictional/animated characters, and anime merchandise, including plush toys, pillows and figurines.

The idea of starting their own booth during an anime convention began when the pair started looking for circle lenses, which changes the colours of one’s eyes. It turned out their friends were also looking for Sharingan lenses (eyes from a character from Naruto).

“My mom actually managed to hook us up with a contact in Korea and they pushed us to Geo Contact Lens and we started buying lenses from them,” said Thomas, noting anime characters generally have large, bright or unique eyes, and it was very difficult to find special effects lenses at the time.

“We thought, if we were looking to get these lenses, there were probably a lot more people looking them too, as well as cosplay supplies and other cute Japanese items.”

Cosplay-FTW finally opened its own store on the Mountain three years later after much pushing from customers, which was aided by the large cosplaying community in Hamilton, she added.

“We were kind of pushed into it from our customers; they would ask if we had a location and we initially said no, but then thought, we may as well,” Thomas added. “So we started with the little place on the Mountain and then it grew from there. We built up a clientele – even though there wasn’t a lot of walk-ins, people would outright search for us and come down to visit us.”

When the pair noticed a vacant storefront beside Gameopolis, Hamilton’s newest board game and café, they jumped at the chance to move to a bigger location.

“We thought this would be the perfect location: it’s a bigger place and it’s right by another store that would have a similar target market,” said Thomas. “We thought the stores would complement each other.”

The sisters have already noticed more walk-ins at their downtown location and business has definitely grown since they first started out with simply a table.

In the near future, Thomas hopes they will be able to venture into providing cosplayers with prosthetic ears and fangs.

Cosplay-FTW is looking to set up a booth at Hamilton’s newest convention, the Hammer Town Comic Con to be held in October.

The store will celebrate its grand opening on Aug. 3 and Aug. 4.

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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Candle store a new spark on Ottawa Street

Of the 52 available candles at Wick’d Wax Creations, each homemade and handcrafted candle is a delicate process of mathematics and chemistry.

Wes Fletcher and his newly opened candle store.

Wes Fletcher and his newly opened candle store.

From the number of drops of oils to the slight adjustments in colouring, each candle is uniquely different.

“I use a liquid dye and essential oils in my candles, so one candle varies from another candle,” explained owner Wes Fletcher. “A grape juice candle may have an X number of drops, lets say 10 drops, while a vanilla candle may only have two drops of fragrance to work with that candle.”

Each candle also has a different wick, with some fragrances more powerful than others, and usually takes him a day to create.

“The substance of a fragrance is sometimes harder to burn so you have to figure out the math of that particular candle,” he added. “Each colour is slightly different for each candle, and ideas for scents are sometimes requested and sometimes my own.”

His goal is to eventually carry 100 fragrances in his store on Ottawa Street.

Fletcher’s interest in candle making began over a decade ago when he started working part-time for a company that made candles in a honey barn.

“I thought it was interesting and when I went to Niagara College, I decided to do my coop with them,” he said.

From there he worked from the ground up and became the manager at a candle store before branching out with a couple of friends to open his own store.

“I decided to take a hiatus but I recently got my equipment back last year and started making candles again in my living room,” said Fletcher, noting he started promoting his products at craft shows in Hamilton before opening his store.

Popular fragrances include Wine & Roses, which has the soft scent of roses and a dash of wine, as well as the China Rain, which has a soft floral base.

Another product Fletcher was inspired to create includes his Fire Starters, which consists of recycled wax and wood chips put together in a cupcake like container.

“All you have to do is nestle them inside the logs of a wood stove or campfire, which also helps eliminate the use of newspapers or kindling,” he explained.

The Fire Starters take around 20 minutes to get started and also provides a soft fragrance.

All his candles are made with a petroleum byproduct (paraffin wax), though Fletcher aims to expand the line to include soy and beeswax.

Wick’d Wax Creations will celebrate its grand opening on May 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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New businesses a bright light on Barton Street

It’s been slow going but the upswing on Barton Street was one of the reasons Maria Daniel decided to open her creperie there.

Maria Daniel making a crepe.

Maria Daniel making a crepe.

Hargitai’s, her Hungarian maiden name, will be celebrating its first year on April 13 and though it faces the same challenges of all businesses in its first year, Daniel stands by her choice of location.

“There’s no denying the real estate is much more affordable here than anywhere else,” she explained. “I also look at it from a sentimental perspective. This area needs happy things and legitimate business, as well as people who are willing to take the risk and jump in.”

Located at the heart of Barton Village (304 Barton Street E.), Daniel noted the street has already improved but there is a long way to go.

“This area didn’t get like this over night and it’s sure not going to fix itself overnight either,” she said. “Some people have a pre-conceived notion about Barton Street and because of this, they don’t want to come to Barton Street but I strongly urge them to overcome those notions and give this area a chance.”

Developers from Yoke Group Inc. are also hoping renovations to a recently purchased building will slowly shed the negative view people have of the street.

Anthony Quattrociocchi and Eric Cardillo of Yoke Group Inc. inside their newly renovated building on Barton Street.

“It’s not like we’re buying here expecting miracles to happen overnight, but we see potential with the growth here and we hope to bring proper businesses back into the area,” Anthony Quattrociocchi said of Barton Street.

Anthony Quattrociocchi and Eric Cardillo of Yoke Group Inc. inside their newly renovated building on Barton Street.

Anthony Quattrociocchi and Eric Cardillo of Yoke Group Inc. inside their newly renovated building on Barton Street.

Decisions are based on a five-year outlook and where the company believes a location will be in five years, he explained.

Much of the properties on Barton Street have been left alone without maintenance over the last 10 to 20 years, Quattrociochhi added, but they remain in their natural state.

“We look for nice buildings that we think we can bring back to life and Barton Street has a lot of those buildings,” he explained. “We want to get the ball rolling. When people see you doing the renovations it entices them and makes them look at their building.”

The 12 unit building was bought on Nov. 1 last year with renovations completed late January. It has four commercial units and eight residential rooms that features two bedrooms, 10-foot ceilings, and over 1,000 square feet of space.

A bicycle repair shop is slated to open on April 1 in one of the commercial units, but there is already a waiting list for the residential apartments. His partner Eric Cardillo noted development on the street is slow but it’s very similar to what occurred on Ottawa Street and what’s currently happening on James Street.

Two small businesses that have been on the street for over 50 years welcome the sight of new development.

With its butchered meat and freshly prepared sandwiches, Duartes’ Supermarket has been a corner store staple for many families and blue-collar workers.

Alcino Duarte, who intends to take over when his parents retire, noted much of the changes on the street are also reflected in the population.

Twenty years ago Duarte recalls most of the residents were Italian, while 10 years ago the population was mostly Portuguese. Now the community has become a mixed culture as the Portuguese families move out to the more urban areas.

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Victor Duarte (left) and Alcino Duarte (centre) with their
friend Victor inside Duartes’ Supermarket.

“Duartes’ still offers the same prices as 20 years ago and the price increases hasn’t been reflected in our store,” he explained. “Barton Street is an area that has a lot of low-income families, including problems with drugs and prostitution… but recent changes such as the banners hung from the side of light posts, are good for the community.”

In operation since 1915, Kenesky Sports and Cycle has seen the transformation that has occurred on Barton Street.

“It was good back in the late 60s and early 70s, then it became crappy before it came back a bit,” explained owner Joel Hulsman. “It went (downhill) again when the Wesley Centre opened up, which is a drop-in centre for the homeless.”

However, Hulsman noted things are starting to change with the addition of the hospital, the upgraded elementary school, and new businesses on the street.

“The upgrades (Yoke Group) did to the building have been great,” Hulsman said. “In five years, Barton Street is going to be vibrant.”

Barton Village BIA Executive Director Shelly Wonch believes the area is heading in the right direction.

“We’re really on a roll and we’re in the right direction even if there’s a long way to go. We have to deal with the business owners with buildings that are all boarded up,” she said. “We have to get the landlords to take responsibility, gain an interest and fix up their buildings.”

Though the street has always been a launching pad for Hamilton, there hasn’t been too much activity in the real estate market around the area, said President Elect Tim Mattioli of the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington.

“Barton Street will always be there and have its own strength but that changes with each generation,” he said.

Hamilton’s downtown core is an example of what can be done to rejuvenate Barton Street, when blocks of properties are bought and either rebuilt or repurposed, explained Mattioli.

“It’s hard to rejuvenate a place without development,” Mattioli said. “One of the biggest problems is that people believe Barton Street is a dangerous place, but it’s not. The beauty of Barton Street is that it maintains the neighbourhood vibe lost in many urban areas.”

People tend to think progress has to be big and shiny, but that’s not the case, he added.

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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