Food and clothes wrapped up in small town wonder

Thornbury, Ontario is a small town on the shores of Georgian Bay.  Most people are familiar with its neighbour down the highway, Collingwood.  I prefer Thornbury because it has everything you would want as a visitor or resident, but without the hassles of living in a busy tourist recreational hub.

At a glance you would think that Thornbury has the highest independent retail and restaurant diversity per capita than any place else in the country.  I have yet to be disappointed with any of the restaurants or shops since happening upon the town fifteen years ago.

Our routine is to go for lunch first, then check out the shops.  Sunday we went to The Mill Cafe.  A renovation was just completed 3 weeks ago and it is sharp.  The Mill has long been a Thornbury favorite, and after receiving so many happy diners over the years, it is really great to have a fresh look.  I felt like it was a gift to the customers.  No doubt it will reap the rewards.

There are large pieces of original artwork by a local artist and with the pop of green on all seating it gives the impression of whimsy, but also skill and thought.  The design of the restaurant is much more open now, and it also gives you the impression that you are being welcomed into someone’s personal space.  That is not always so easy to accomplish.  Quite often an open space seem cold, but this is pure comfort and fun as you can watch the chefs in the open kitchen, keep an eye on the drinks that you ordered at the bar(or the regulars!), or enjoy some people watching. I would describe the food as a solid take on old favorites.  Anyone can find something to enjoy on this menu, from the food snob to the most conservative eater.  My husband had the pulled pork back rib sandwich, we shared the yellow and red beet salad, and I had the mini back ribs with chimichurri sauce.  Yum!  Now well fed, we are off to…

Without a doubt my favorite place to shop for clothes.  It doesn’t matter what I have bought, when I wear something from Furbelows, I receive compliments.
I love the fact that what you find here, except for the basics, you will not find anywhere else.  Jane, the owner, loves to bring in lines from small labels in North America as well as Europe.  This means that she cherry picks the clothes that come into the store, and therefore creates something akin to your own closet…varied, mix of high and low, and always interesting!  I love a clothing store that has mirrors in and out of the dressing room….sometimes you just don’t want to leave the room with a really bad piece of clothing on.  Furbelows has the best staff at a clothing store that I have ever come across.  They are not only fashionable each in their own way, they know their stuff.  They know every item in the store.  They also know when to tell you to “put and item back”;) or when to take you out of your comfort zone in order to go from “nice” to “awesome”.   If you want awesome, you want Furbelows.
On Sunday, I left with new (fall!) boots, skinny cargo jeans, long tank, and a cardigan(which looks like a piece of art in and of itself).  As I was at the counter paying, I spied this dress on the manikin, and after one more quick change, it was added to my stash for the day…the only I regret, is not buying the necklace with it!  Oh well, next time:)

love what you do

I love people that love what they do!  It can be the woman at the MAC make-up counter who is clearly excited to show an old gal like me some new tricks, the plumber that hooks up the latest water feature for our bathroom, or someone like Stacie Constantine.  Stacie opened The Kimberley General Store last year in the hamlet of Kimberley, On….population 92.  This includes the dozen or so seasonal residents like us!

Residents and seasonals to this area were so excited about this that you would have thought that we were collectively launching a mission to Mars.  You see, Kimberley is the little spot on the hwy that you slowly drive-through on your way someplace else.  I mention the speed because there is an unspoken respect for this little place that seems to encourage people to slow down, smile and get in their groove.  Transports slow down well before so as not to use air brakes, as do frenzied parents carrying car-loads of excited children to nearby Collingwood for ski races.  We are fortunate to have a small ski house close by.  We are especially fortunate to have Stacie among us.

Why am I so enamoured with The Kimberley General Store?  It could be that my own cookshop and cafe was housed in a similar 150 year old building, it could be that Stacie is stocking her shop with food grown by local purveyors, or it could be simply that Stacie’s warm nature and heartfelt enthusiasm for her store, is what makes us all want to buy every grocery possible just to support her.  She is as her store reflects; earthy, interesting, welcoming, whimsical and attractive;)

This was my beautiful lunch made by Stacie…..dessert was spectacular!

While you are out-and-about this weekend…hell, every day….make sure to take the time to visit the small independent businesses that continue to bring beauty and authenticity to our lives.  We are privileged to live in a country that allows and encourages free expression and whether it comes in the form of the written word, the clothes we wear or those shop-keepers and restauranteurs that continue to remind us of the importance of what is real; they deserve our support.

Look past the big box stores and you will find the experience of shopping is much more gratifying.  Suddenly, you go back in time where people really do matter.  Every penny spent in an independent shop is money well spent.  You are in fact, saying with those pennies that you care about their business, about them and for the effort to facilitate genuine human interaction.  Their presence in our communities enriches us.  In return for their efforts to live and work in a way that matches their philosophy; please drop by, buy something:), say something encouraging and spread the word!  Stacie Rocks!  Pass it on!!!