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Dale Felske lies in the aqua massage machine at the Fantasy Spa and Herbal Shop in Iqaluit. After the lid on the machine closes, high-powered streams of water go up and down the client's body. The switch Felske is holding in his hand controls whether the water streams go up and down or stop in one place. - Brent Reaney/NNSL photo

McBain's empire grows

Stephan Burnett
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Nov 15/04) - Take off your parka and throw off your toque, leave your worries on the doorstep. A walk to the sunny side of the street in Iqaluit will eventually take you to the newly-opened Fantasy Spa and Herbal Shop.

The aqua massage machine at the Fantasy Spa and Herbal Shop is second only to the real thing and, for some, it's even better.

It's the only automated massage bed in town, says Fantasy Spa and Herbal Shop owner Elaine McBain.

For those people not partial to physical contact, the massage bed is even better than the real thing, says Dale Felske, an employee at the spa and McBain's nephew.

"It can work right where the pain is and you can keep it there," Felske says.

McBain said there's also a couple of tanning beds at the spa. One of the beds is of the traditional lay-down variety, while another is a stand-up version.

"The stand up is twice as fast," says McBain.

Fantasy Spa, located on the road to Iqaluit's airport, also sports a full line of herbal supplements.

"Up here, you don't get all the vitamins you need. The fruits and veggies are a little tired and we don't get the sun up here that there is down south," McBain explained.

Having been in business all her life, McBain is a bit of a serial entrepreneur.

She moved to Iqaluit six years ago with her husband Rod Malcolm, who found a job as a civil servant in the capital.

As the businesses expanded, her husband, once a comptroller with the Nunavut government, decided to become McBain's partner in business.

After starting with Baffin Flowers, McBain started the Fantasy Palace Restaurant. While her newest business baby is the Fantasy Spa and Herbal Shop, the week before that, McBain opened a clothing store for women and children, which she appropriately called, Anaana and Me. Anaana is the Inuktitut word for "mommy."

It took close to three months to open up Anaana and Me, she says.

The hassles behind opening the new clothing store all relate to the logistical complexities of living in the North. "It takes longer for things to get up here," she said.

There were shelving units which missed the plane and other products which took longer to arrive, having come by mail, she said.

Originally, the theme behind Anaana and Me was to offer women's and children's clothing, but since opening the store McBain has had many requests for men's clothing as well. She has since decided to provide the supply of men's clothing to suit her customer's demands.

Shopping rovers who want to cross over from Anaana and Me to the Fantasy Spa and Herbal Shop can do so easily: the two stores are connected through an adjoining doorway. The Fantasy Palace is also connected to the clothing store.

Being the mother of enterprise that she is, McBain assures she's not out to become a tycoon, she's "just trying to make a living."