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Bob Chiasson's Monkey Paw curiosity shop is now in Halifax. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

A new co-op of Halifax shops says it's offering customers an alternative to big box shopping, with items ranging from period-piece costumes to vinyl records.

The storefront under Menz Bar on Gottingen Street had been empty for five years, but now houses several new small shops collectively called the Plan B Co-op.

Bob Chiasson, president of the co-op, said he selected the spot because he has a long connection to the area.

"My mother grew up just up the street on Gottingen Street, my great uncles all worked in stores along here, and it feels like kind of a family tradition. We're back on the street again," he said.

Monkey's Paw curiosity shop

Chiasson had operated his eclectic curiosity shop the Monkey's Paw at Dartmouth's Harbourview Market, but crossed the water two weeks ago.

He said the location was perfect for funky businesses like his own.

"It's kind of exactly where we want to be. It's the centre of hipdom in Halifax," he said. "Everybody that lives up in the north end commutes by coming up and down Gottingen Street. The foot traffic here is just crazy. The street is just rife to come to life."

He said Plan B refers to the shops being a back-up plan for the owners' regular jobs and also to their offering an alternative to shoppers uninspired by mainstream retail options.

  • There are 15 spots available for shops
  • Plan B rents spaces to non-members, especially artisans and craftspeople
  • Rent starts at $30 a month

"Individually, there wasn't one of our small businesses that could really afford a really nice store front, but together, we've got the clout of a much bigger operation," Chiasson said.

Other shops include In Vinyl We Trust, a tattoo and piercing parlor, a games store called Third Eye Blind and the gothic boutique Morrigan LeFay's Mystical Gifts.

Co-op member Nicole Frosst said the group came together to attract a similar clientele to an area in need of rejuvenation.

"I like being on Gottingen Street. It's accessible. I think it's good to kind of revive this part of town. I like it when new stores come," she said.

Plan B is holding its official opening on Halloween. It plans to eventually add a café and small art gallery.