Inside Dots & Loops
February 21, 2012


Stephen Bishop and Melanie Strong opened Dots & Loops last summer on Lincoln Street in Lunenburg.

Sometimes you’ve just got to go for it.

Stephen Bishop (BDes 2001) and Melanie Strong loved living in the country, loved working at a design agency in city. It was the commute they weren’t crazy about.

In the end, the appeal of an old house, chickens in the backyard and ocean vistas from the kitchen window won out. They gave up their jobs in Halifax and, being avid do-it-yourselfers, decided to create their own jobs in Lunenburg. 

Last August, they opened the shop Dots & Loops  in a heritage building on Lincoln Street. While Melanie works out front running the shop, Stephen is in the back running his graphic design company, Hello Daylight.

“We thought, let’s do this as an experiment and see if we can make a go of it,” says Stephen, originally from St. John’s, Nfld.

Dots & Loops—the name evokes things made by hand, dots from printed matter, loops from textiles—provides handcrafted alternatives to the mass-produced. It carries Stephen’s screen prints, as well as handmade house wares, gifts, clothing, toys, stationary and art by artists and artisans from Nova Scotia and around the world. It’s a bright, beautiful space, attractively arranged and maintained by Melanie.

“We love handmade things and it seemed to make sense to support other artists,” says Stephen, who participates in the Halifax Crafters shows. “A lot of the work here is on consignment. We’re constantly thrilled every time we get another package from somewhere in the world. We feel so privileged that these artists trust us to sell their work for them.”

The experiment started off with a bang. When they opened the shop in the summer, business was brisk—even when they had minimal stock to offer. And people in Lunenburg were thrilled, dropping in to say how much they appreciated having “something a little bit different” in their midst.

“Lunenburg is trying to reinvent itself as an arts destination. We fit right into their plan without even knowing it.”

But Lunenburg in the summer is a much different place from Lunenburg in the winter. To compensate for leaner months, the couple is hoping to evolve the business by selling online and by developing their own line of Dots & Loops products that other stores would carry.

“It’s been amazing to create our own thing and to be supported by our customers. They constantly surprise us.”

Melanie Strong and Stephen Bishop show off some of the original prints they sell in their shop, Dots & Loops.