Halifax: The sweetest little shop

With its big bay window, sleek racks and clean decor, Sweet Pea (1542 Queen St., 902-423-0975) sure looks like a boutique. With its ever-churning traffic of midday shoppers, big bags elbowed and hanger-sifting fingers poised, it sure feels like one. And with a only a few of each style in a library of dresses, it sure holds its nose like a boutique. But the price tags dangling from those adorable little frocks will make you think otherwise.

In 2007, owner Johanna Galipeau, then 19, was fed up with spending money on mall finds that she’d later see all over the city, but her student pocketbook didn’t allow for the luxuries of boutique shopping. With Sweet Pea, she could provide that coveted shopping experience, minus the guilt, by keeping prices to an entirely palatable $80 average. (Canadian-made or environmentally friendly lines are allow to bend that rule.)

Johanna Galipeau, owner of Halifax's Sweet Pea Boutique

The boutique also indulges another of Galipeau’s guilty pleasures: dresses. Save a few cardigans and billowy tops, the shop is equipped entirely with this girly garment, challenging its customers to realize dresses don’t always mean dressy. Each week, the racks are restocked with Canadian and international lines (with 80 percent based in Canada). It’s a mix of eccentric pieces with the ultimate in pretty and the comfort of casual.

As a girl with a wardrobe dedicated entirely to a frilly-over-frumpy cause, I long ago proclaimed Sweet Pea Boutique as my favourite and most dependable Halifax shop. But a recent visit, when a local mother-daughter pair announced that—despite having spotted Galipeau’s SP shopping bags around the city—this was their first venture into the boutique, I realized the shop might benefit from a little more volume. So Halifax, if you’ve yet to veer from the comforts of Spring Garden Road, take a few steps up Queen and fall in love, like me, with a sweet little shop that never disappoints.