Double Featurepreneur – Revitalization of Cornwallis Inn
By Genevieve Allen Hearn
You’ll be noticing a lot more beards and plaid around the Cornwallis Inn these days. What was once considered one of the most architecturally beautiful buildings in Canada, the Cornwallis Inn has seen many redevelopments since 1929. Recently there has been a push to fill the vacant commercial spaces and bring life to the landmark building once again. ENVE Hair and Tir na nOg Dance Academy have moved in and Pauline’s Golden Thread Tailor Shop has moved to the west end of the building with storefront windows. Cornwallis Inn is now also home to two businesses that are completely new to the Valley – Sailor Bup’s Barbershop and HaliMac Axe Throwing. These businesses will be sure to bring a freshness to the area, along with some hipster cred!
The Grapevine interviewed Mark Peyton of Sailor Bup’s and Paul Macinnis of HaliMac Axe Throwing to get the lowdown.
Sailor Bup’s Barbershop
The Grapevine (GV): Why did you choose the Cornwallis Inn to locate your barbershop?
Mark Peyton (MP): This is actually our fourth shop. We also have our main shop downtown Halifax, one in Dartmouth, and a small walk-in shop on Gottingen Street. I am originally from the Annapolis Valley and we have a lot of customers from the area. We were being asked to open here for a while so I started taking a look around to see if it made sense to put the brand in the area. When I got looking at available spaces, I really loved the plan for the Cornwallis Inn and the people behind it. The Town of Kentville were also top shelf in seeing that getting everything lined up to open was taken care of and stress free. The room had character – I could see a bigger, open shop which is something different from our other locations and where they are not franchises or a chain, a different feel but consistent service is key.
GV: Describe the experience at your barbershop. What makes it unique?
MP: We’re a business but we’re also a barbershop. It isn’t contrived, scripted, over the top or trying to be something we are not. We cut hair, we shave, we listen to rock and roll, we swear, we make jokes, we form friendships over business dealings, we get to know the people coming through the doors, we do events in the shop and we try and keep the traditions of barbering alive. We don’t have TVs or ipads. We encourage talking to people rather than staring at a screen. We don’t offer 15 minute haircuts because a barbershop should be a place to get away from the stresses of life. So we take our time to offer a quality service rather than focus on being a chop shop. We have our prices set so it involves every walk of life and no one feels that they can’t afford it or are not welcome. All of these combined are important and though we aren’t reinventing the wheel, I feel these are the things that are missing from a lot of shops nowadays.
GV: What inspired you to start your own barbershop?
MP: I grew up playing music and skateboarding. Those subcultures go together hand in hand. I went to a few shops and realized it was something I wanted to do. I learned about the trade, the history behind it and everything to do with it. I actually never wanted to open my shop. I wanted to work for someone else and focus on establishing myself as a barber because it is extremely hard. This was before barbering started to make a comeback so I knew it was going to be an uphill battle. A lot of the shops I approached weren’t interested in taking anyone on because they didn’t want to lose customers or run the risk of someone going out and opening a shop after they were trained and taking everything they worked for with them. I knew I wanted to do this, so I threw myself into it and it has turned out okay so far.
GV: What advice to you have for others interested in starting their own business?
MP: You can sit on it, talk about it or you can work hard and do it. Entrepreneurship is a lot of work but it can be very rewarding. My rewards are the fact I have created jobs for people that share the same vision as I do, I have built four beautiful shops and I get to hang out with the best customers to walk through the doors of a business. Am I rich? Not at all. Not by any stretch. Am I experience- and gratitude-rich? In the biggest way possible. I have travelled the world with this career, and accomplished things I was told I would never accomplish. I did this just by cutting hair, shaving and talking to someone in my chair.
HaliMac Axe Throwing
GV: For our readers that have never experienced axe-throwing, what should they expect?
Paul Macinnis (PM): Axe-throwing is something that needs to be experienced! It’s a combination of amazing fun and a surprising amount of competitiveness in a unique, relaxed, and safe environment. You’ll be taught everything you need to know before our staff facilitate games and group tournaments for you to compete in. We will even have a league for the committed axe-throwers out there!
GV: Why do you think axe throwing is growing in popularity?
PM: Axe-throwing is simply an evolution of a social gathering. It’s an opportunity to gather with large or small groups of friends, family, or colleagues and have a great time. It’s a great option for dates, birthdays, corporate events, bachelor/bachelorette parties, etc.
GV: What got you interested in starting an axe throwing business of your own?
PM: My business partner (and cousin) was at his father’s 60th birthday party in Ontario and experienced axe-throwing a few years ago. He called me soon after, and within a few months we opened our first location in St. John’s, Newfoundland where he lives.
GV: Why did you choose to open an axe-throwing facility in Kentville?
PM: Kentville is an exciting place to be right now. There is some obvious growth being bolstered by a progressive town council and we couldn’t be happier to set up in the Valley!
Sailor Bup’s is now open 10am-6pm Tuesday to Saturday. They offer appointments that can be booked online at
HaliMac Axe Throwing hopes to open mid-September and will be open 6 days a week. They can be found on Facebook by searching HaliMac Axe Throwing.