In any other city, a downtown sign reading The Economy Shoe Shop would signal an establishment that could maybe refurbish your sole. In Halifax that same sign will lead you to a place that can feed and water your soul – no small distinction.
And “distinctive” is a word that comes easily to mind once you enter the now-famous Argyle Street bar/restaurant complex started 10 years ago by Haligonian man-about-town, Victor Syperek.
Begun as a modest 70 seat licensed café in a previously cursed location, Syperek envisioned his little project as “a place I can meet my friends for a beer.” Little did he know that it would turn into a life’s work and literally change the downtown landscape of his beloved Halifax.
The Economy Shoe Shop, or “The Shoe” or “The Shoe Box” or any of the other nicknames the space has picked up over the years, opened in May of 1995, just in time to slake the thirsts of the world’s media, descending on the city to cover the G7 economic conference that year. The shiny limos and ranks of suited functionaries were at stark odds with the homey confines of the newly opened Shoe Shop, still sporting scaffolding on the front of the building and only a little wooden sign (“Bar”) hanging off one of the rungs to announce the fact it was ready to do business.
The Economy Shoe Shop proper – the little bar that started it all – hasn’t really changed dramatically over the years. It’s still the little space Victor thought “might sell a few beers and pay for itself.” It’s still a place for people to meet and talk, it still doesn’t have a TV set and it will never have video gambling machines. What Victor didn’t see coming was the fact it would become, within months of opening, a place so popular that it was difficult for Victor, much less Vic’s friends, to find a place at the bar on any given night. Vic’s design sense, and his unerring instinct for “vibe,” proved to be a little too good. They needed more space to serve the ever-growing line of patrons that were discovering this bastion of good cheer and conversation. They needed a LOT more space…
The Economy Shoe Shop consists of four different bars/lounges : The “Shoe”, The Diamond, Belgian Bar & The Backstage.