Tag Archives: Your Hamilton Biz

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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New burger joint in Westdale leaves diners delirious for more

A burger blend of ground sirloin and chuck steak has Hamiltonians whispering about Delirious Burger Co.

There is a third style of meat that will remain a trade secret, said owner Ben Greco.

Ben Greco grills up a burger.

Ben Greco grills up a burger.

The burger joint opened July 4 and is gaining fans in Westdale at its King Street West location.

“After 10 years living in the city (Toronto), I wanted to move back with my wife and I found a location in Westdale,” said Greco, who grew up in Waterdown. “When I came home one night and told her I was going to start up a restaurant, the first thing out of her mouth was, ‘You must be delirious,’ which is where the name came from.”

His quest to find the best burger in town led to the opening of his own restaurant.

“I made a big issue of finding something that was primarily unique,” he said. “What I came across was a lot of the processed, fast food quality burgers. The burger was either frozen, had fillers, or the fries were also frozen, and it took away from the quality of the products produced.”

At Delirious, Greco aims to produce an American-style burger, cooked on a flattop grill rather than a griddle. The juices in the burger remain locked in the burger when cooked on a flattop. Greco tested for four months with the help of another chef to find the best.

“We did a variety of test kitchens where we had multiple chefs test out the burger,” said Greco. “We worked really closely with the (local) butchers as well – it’s about combining a handful of products to get the taste we’re looking for.”

The burgers are made fresh and are never frozen. Fries are also hand cut daily.

“It’s important to us that we produce the best quality burger that’s available,” he said. “The general consensus during the tests is what we’re serving today.”

Delirious Burger Co. offers regular cheeseburgers to the bacon cheeseburger, as well as specialty burgers that will slowly be released. The vegetarian option is stuffed Portobello, double breaded and stuffed with aged cheddar that gives it a sharp taste.

Prior to cooking up a storm in the kitchen, he worked in marketing with a large automotive manufacturer in Toronto.

“We really want to be part of the community and it’s one of my goals to give back to the west-end area,” said Greco. “In the future you’ll see us get involved with the local art community and see us sponsor some charitable events eventually to show our appreciation of the warm welcome we’ve received.”

Delirious Burger will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday, July 13 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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40,000 people can’t be wrong

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The Lancaster will take to the skies during Hamilton’s airshow.

Superman won’t be in the skies this weekend but the aerobatic displays of aviation will draw more than 40,000 people to Hamilton’s International Airport.

The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum will host its third Hamilton Airshow on June 15 and 16 after a 10-year hiatus. It originally began in 1975.

The airshow event draws people from all over the world, from Europe to New Zealand, said Al Mickeloff, marketing and advertiser of the Hamilton Airshow.

“We always have a large gathering of vintage aircraft because we are a vintage aircraft museum,” he explained. “One highlight this year is the Mosquito, which is making its first airshow appearance in North America and we’re getting it here in Hamilton.”

Originally built in Toronto during the Second World War, the Mosquito is unique because it is wooden.

Used as a fighter plane or a bomber, it was a very fast aircraft compared to most bombers that were typically slow.

“This particular aircraft has been under restoration in New Zealand for an American owner for several years,” said Mickeloff, noting it’s supposed to be the restoration of all restorations. “We have people coming in from all over the world to see this particular aircraft because this is the only one in flying condition and there hasn’t been one around in many years.”

Hamilton-born “Super Dave” Mathieson, whose claim to fame was being voted #1 aerobatic pilot in Canada . . . by his mom, will also perform at the airshow.

Designed for plus or minus 16Gs with a roll rate of 500 degrees per second, Mathieson will be flying the world’s most advanced aerobatic aircraft called the MX2 – its top speed is 300 miles per hour.

On the ground, there will be more than 30 aircraft and crew, with some aircraft open for tours. The Museum’s flagship Second World War bomber, the Avro Lancaster, one of two in the world that is still capable of flying, is another attraction. Rare German planes, such as the FW190 and ME 262, an appearance from the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Snowbirds, and a reenactment of a WWII Aircraft dogfight, are also scheduled.

Unfortunately, there will be no rides during the event.

Residents are encouraged to purchase tickets prior to the event through its website. Advanced tickets sales ($27 for adults 16 +, $18 for children age six to 15) will close at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 14.

Adult tickets at the gate are $30, and $20 for children. Gates will open for the Hamilton Airshow at 8 a.m. on Saturday, June 15 and Sunday, June 16.

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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Ancaster businesses to connect internationally with new marketing group

A new group in Ancaster will allow businesses to network internationally with like-minded organizations.

The Business Networking International (BNI) Professional Excellence Ancaster chapter will be a part of the world’s largest networking organization and is set to launch on May 9, noted President Margaret Heesters.

As a member, the chapter allows businesses to connect internationally to other members of BNI chapters.

“If I have a friend who’s moving to Saskatchewan and is looking for a realtor, my first step is to contact a BNI chapter in Saskatchewan and look for a realtor there,” said Heesters.

In Canada, there are 284 chapters and in the past year, Canadian chapters passed $149 million dollars worth of business to other members.

There was $3.3 billion dollars generated worldwide.

Heesters was formerly a member of a BNI chapter in Brantford before she decided to open up a chapter in Ancaster because she found most of her services and clients were in that area.

When the Ancaster chapter initially began in January, it had 10 members, she noted.

There are currently 25 members representing different professions, including pest control, web design, a travel agent, a chiropractor and a nutritionist.

“The interesting thing about BNI is that it’s an exclusive membership, which means there’s only one real estate agent per group, one mortgage broker per group, or one financial advisor,” she explained. “When I contact businesses that might have an interest in our networking group, I ask them two questions: are you looking to grow your business and would referrals help your business? If your answer is yes, then BNIs are great for them to join.”

Heesters expects around 125 people will be attending the event, which will introduce the group to the community.

“The more exposure we get, the more opportunity we have to invite new members into our group and to let people know that we’re in Ancaster,” she said.

Regular meetings are held every Thursday from 12 to 1:30 p.m. and is kept at 90 minutes.

There is an application process but business professionals are first invited to a meeting to see if the chapter is a good fit for their business and vice versa.

References are also checked before membership is accepted.

Tickets are $20 and deadline to register is May 3. The event will run from 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Knollwood Golf Club (914 Book Road W.).

For more information email Heesters or contact her at 905-512-5741.

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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Hamilton flight school takes to the skies

A local flight training company is taking off at a steady pace after initial turbulence when it first launched a year ago.

REDBIRD FMX-1000 full motion flight training device.

REDBIRD FMX-1000 full motion flight training device.

With its popular in-house flight simulator and Cessna 172, Golden Horseshoe Aviation continues to grow by filling a niche of interested aviators and those who wish to take to the skies.

Located in JetPort’s facility (Unit 520, 9300 Airport Road) at John A. Munro’s Hamilton International Airport, the REDBIRD FMX-1000 full motion flight-training device has drawn aviators from all over the world.

The simulator was purchased eight months ago at a cost of $85,000.

“The advantage is that it doesn’t use any fuel, insurance is much less and it flies no matter what the weather is outside,” said Chief Flight Instructor and co-owner John Maxwell. “If a student is scheduled for every Tuesday afternoon, on days with bad weather there are a lot of lessons that we can do in there.”

“One of the capabilities of it is that an instrument rated (qualified) pilot has to renew their ratings every two years,” said Maxwell. “Traditionally this is done in a multi-engine airplane at $350-$400 an hour, rented by a pilot for several hours to brush up, before a flight test is completed for the examiner.”

Along with examiner fees, the cost to renew a pilot’s license in Canada can add up to thousands. However, testing can now be completed on the ground, in house and with an in-house examiner for $599.

It was in 2011 when Maxwell and the Chief Executive Officer Michael Geraghty flew past Hamilton’s airport and Maxwell noted the size of the airport and the city.

Maxwell was quick to point out Hamilton didn’t have its own flight school. The last time Hamilton had its own flight school was in 2008.

“Soon the conversation turned into an idea, then into business and then a business plan,” said Maxwell, adding the process took about a year.

The company has four instructors though they expect to hire a few more by the end of the year to teach the growing number of students. There are around 30 students at the moment.

Chief Flight Instructor John Maxwell with the Cessna 172.

Chief Flight Instructor John Maxwell with the Cessna 172.

As the company gears up to celebrate its first anniversary on May 1, the flight instructor noted they are in the process of importing a Diamond DA-200 to add to its fleet.

“It’s a really fun two-seat plane that comes with a canopy on top that provides a panoramic view,” he said. “We liken the Cessna 172 to taking your dad’s pickup truck, while the Diamond is like borrowing mom’s convertible.”

The new airplane will open up another avenue because it appeals to another market base.

In five years, Maxwell hopes to see his fleet expand to eight to 10 airplanes.

“We want to draw more general aviation to the Hamilton airport because there’s not a lot of small piston powered airplanes in this airport,” he said. “We hope to be an anchor tenant here and attract some of that attention back.”

Samantha Mincone, a student at the centre, spends a lot of time at the centre but noted training can be taken at your own pace.

As someone who has always been interested in aviation and planes, Micone looked up the flight school and signed up.

“I like that this is at a large airport too, because you get to deal with the big planes as well as the smaller ones on the runway and in the air,” she said. “It’s great to be able to speak with the tower and you’re able to learn quickly.”

She hopes to complete her flight certification in a few months. Transport Canada requires a mandatory 45 hours flight training as a minimum before certification, but Maxwell noted students should budget for 60 hours.

According to statistics, the national average is around 55 hours of flight training.

Time in a flight stimulator can amount to five hours, though students are also required to complete at least 40 hours of ground school training.

“We use computer based training modules, the flight simulator, teach in the boardroom with small classes, and take them out flying as much as we can,” said Maxwell.

Students can fly with a student pilot permit, which means they are able to fly solo with supervision.

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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Hamilton bra school aims for prime time TV

And it’s a cut.

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Beverly Johnston (centre) teaches some students how to make a corset.

Hamilton’s Bra-makers Supply is aiming for the stars with its own television series on prime time.

As the only teaching program of its kind in the world, Bra-makers Supply attracts international attention from individuals who flock to Ottawa Street North to take courses.

But last year, owner Beverly Johnson had a visit from someone looking for something else.

“We were approached to create a reality TV show about the school and the store, which I thought was a great idea because it would educate people about the needs of creating your own bra,” explained Johnson, also known as the Fairy Bramother.

Almost a year after the initial pitch, Lifetime, a small U.S. network, launched Atlanta-based Double Divas and Johnson knew she had to pitch the idea again.

The idea for the TV series would be pitched to Slice TV sometime this week.

“At the time it was pitched to all the women’s networks but it was turned down,” she added.

Where the front of her store sells top quality, professional and bra-making supplies, her backroom is a classroom where she teaches individuals how to make intimate apparel, including bras, corsets, underwear, swim wear and body shapers. The store itself has attracted students from all over the world.

Courses range from the one-day underwear ($100) to a 10-day corsetiere’s course ($1,000). The Made-to-Measure Bra-Making course for advanced students runs nine weeks, at five days a week and attracts individuals from Italy, Sweden, England and Africa.

Johnson estimates she has taught more than 10,000 women, from accountants to doctors to waitresses.

Bra-makers Supply opened 14 years ago and sales and interest have steadily increased.

Internet purchases and online requests are the biggest part of her business but classes and walk-in traffic have also increased over the years. In its first year, she noted it grew 50 per cent from $18,000 and another 30 per cent in its second year.

As her business stabilized, she noted it still continues to increase 20 per cent on average per year.

“Now classes alone account for $80,000,” said Johnson. “After I wrote my first text book (roughly 200 pages in December 2005), sales doubled. After each publication of my text book or patterns, sales will always jump.”

Tallying over 500 pages in total, Bra-makers Manual Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, along with her other books and her Pin-Up Girl Patterns have been translated to French and German.

Wendy Chisholm, owner of Elegant Silhouettes in London, Ont., noted she heard about the bra-making store after taking a course from a former student of Johnson’s.

“I love to sew and I can never find a good fitting bra so I thought I would give it a shot,” said Chisholm.

Taking the course for the first time on how to make a corset, Shayla Notman, 19, aims to use this experience in her own store, Smitten.

“It’s a really good pace,” said Notman, whose store opens on May 3 and features vintage-inspired clothing. If you know a lot about sewing and construction, you can go as fast as you need to, but if you need help you’re welcome to ask questions. It’s a comfortable atmosphere and really awesome to be in a class with three people.”

Along with teaching her classes, Johnson will be heading to Alaska next month with 80 students to teach a course, as well as Sweden in August for two weeks.

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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Downtown Hamilton stars at annual BIA conference

Downtown Hamilton’s business improvement area and the resurgence of the core were stars during the annual Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA) conference in Toronto.

A key conference seminar celebrated Hamilton’s achievements and gave BIAs around the province a chance to see how renewal can lead to success, said the director for Renew Hamilton Project.

This year’s conference is themed around building the local economy.

“BIAs are the very best at building what we call a Main Street Economy,” Richard Allen explained. “All communities of all sizes typically have a BIA and their sole focus is on developing and supporting businesses. The notion of economic development and local economy, and using revitalization techniques are very compelling.”

Hosted by the OBIAA and the Toronto Association of BIAS (TABIA), the conference began on April 14 and goes until April 17.

It is being held at the Toronto Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre Hotel. Fifty delegates from BIAs across Ontario learned about the goal and purpose of the Renew Hamilton Project, which is to document, promote and accelerate the restoration and regeneration of downtown Hamilton and the adjacent communities, Allen said.

“Many of the small towns across Ontario are struggling to maintain, build and grow downtown populations, and many downtowns are also struggling both to preserve and restore their heritage buildings,” he explained.

“Those that are finding a way to do it, are finding a renewal premium on those properties.”

The rejuvenation of an area leads to an increase in property values, more foot traffic and unique stores.

It is also important that BIAs are able to differentiate themselves from other areas, added Allen.

“We were able to discuss many things and play two case study videos about the revitalization of the Gore area,” he said. “The videos proved to be great conversation starters and we had a great discussion. In the end, many people felt that Hamilton was already in front of many other communities when it comes to regeneration of its downtown.”

The reaction to Hamilton’s success was positive, with many people commenting on how the downtown revitalization has started to generate economic and social spinoff.

Other BIAs in attendance noted Hamilton has some techniques and policies that could be applicable to other communities, including the grants and incentive programs, said Allen.

There are more than 280 BIAs representing 55,000 businesses in Ontario.

Other seminars discussed the new accessibility standards, improving event management and streetscape renewal.

Awards are being handed out Wednesday in categories including Marketing and Communications, Business Retention, Recruitment and Expansion, Special Events and Promotions, Safe and Healthy Environment, Bricks and Mortar, and the Alex Ling Lifetime Achievement Award.

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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Energy boosting and healthy, Gojiccino enters cafes

It took four years to perfect Gojiccino, but the healthy, energy boosting drink is one of a kind.

Based in Ancaster and manufactured in Guelph, food developer Jennifer Low says her product is a non-caffeinated drink full of nutrients.

Jen Low creating a batch of Gojiccino.

Jen Low creating a batch of Gojiccino.

Small, red and football-shaped, the goji berry was a culinary staple for Low growing up. What was once used in traditional Asian meals, the goji berry has become popular and can now be found in grocery stores, such as Fortino’s or Loblaws.

The berry, used in soups or steeped in teas, can now be put into lattes and cappuccinos.

It was through her varied career around the food and communications industry, she was most recently a food editor for Canadian House and Home, Low was reintroduced to the goji berry when she was visiting California.

The idea to create something with the goji berry was ignited through a conversation with several food journalists about the growing interest in the berry.

“As a food editor, I received press releases coming in from people who have new products and I always knew I wanted to develop my own product but it had to be something that people wanted and needed,” she explained.

It started as an artisanal product and Low had to rethink her approach when it came to making it a mass commercial product.

“This meant using different equipment and thinking about the methods in a different way,” she said. “In order to get your product up to large commercial product, as the developer I have to maintain my idea of what the essence of the beverage is. I can’t lose sight of it because it’s too easy to have it morph into something else.”

A rich, dark liquid, the Gojiccino concentrate can be mixed with any type of milk to make a Gojiccino or Gojilatte. People can also choose to drink it plain, with a dose of sweetener, or as shots that can be added to brewed coffee.

“Think of it as goji espresso in a bottle, so baristas use the concentrate, froth it with any type of milk, and turn it into a latte styled drink,” said Low. ”It’s like a mochacinno with an herbal finish.”

People who don’t know what a goji berry is associate the drink and its taste to something sweet, but it’s not, she said.

“Everybody who tastes it will come up with something different,” she said. “I’ve had people tell me that it tastes like a pumpkin latte but less sweet, or it has a malty taste.”

There is no pumpkin or malt in the concentrate.

Along with regular Gojiccino patrons, each day sees new customers trying out the drink, noted Holly Gibb, a manager at Earth to Table Bread Bar on Locke Street.

A barista adding Gojiccino to a drink.

A barista adding Gojiccino to a drink.

“We have people who come back for it every time and it’s a nice alternative to a caffeine drink to give you energy in the morning,” she said. “We always like trying new things to give our customers to see what they like and what they’re asking for.”

Gibb noted Gojiccino adds an earthy taste to drinks and is quite filling.

“We sell it as an alternative to a caffeine beverage, similar to a protein drink because it’s filling and gives you energy for those who are working out,” Gibb added.

The drink is for anyone, from those who don’t drink coffee to those who have already had two or three cups and want a drink without caffeine.

It’s also for those who are looking to incorporate healthier foods into their diet, said Low.

Toronto’s Fresh restaurants will be offering the concentrate starting this week. Gojiccino can also be found at The Red Brick Café in Sundridge in Northern Ontario.

In three weeks, Gojiccino will be served in Toronto’s The Big Carrot, a natural food market and organic juice bar.

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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