A small brick antique shop located on Kent Street seems to be a magnet for artifacts and oddities from across the city and around the world. It has also attracted something else: a community of people centered around one shared goal — helping their neighbours.

The house is owned by two former social workers, Karen Nielsen and Leigh Reid, who say they bought the space to serve people in need without stigma or barriers.

HighJinx operates a community food pantry and a furniture bank that can be accessed daily by anyone experiencing homelessness or food insecurity.

The store is run by its two owners along with a network of volunteers who spend time watching the store, donate food and furniture, or offer free services. It’s a busy place.

The myriad of items in the shop reflects the HighJinx community. The people, much like these items, constantly change as they move in and out of the space, leaving stories behind.

A red brick building with a brown sign  with the word "high Jinx!"
HighJinx on Kent Street in Ottawa is an antique shop with a difference. [Photo ©  Santana Bellantoni]
A window display in a red brick building. There is a mannequin wearing a wedding dress and a small chalkboard sign that says "Celebrating Tabatha and Steve's Wedding!"
An eclectic window display celebrates one of HighJinx’s volunteers, who is to be married shortly. [Photo © Santana Bellantoni]
The window display as seen from inside the shop. This angle shows the dark blue walls of the store and the back of the mannequin.
Like most areas of the shop, this window display is always evolving as volunteers add and subtract decorations and items. [Photo © Mallory Cramp-Waldinsperger]
The cat sits on the counter in the forefront while the man folds a white paper flower in the back.
The store cat Zed watches the people walk through the door while Jay White works on a decoration for the window display. [Photo © Santana Bellantoni]
Framed between an open staircase is a small kitchen with many photos hanging on the wall.
The kitchen is visible through a few crevices in the old wooden stairs. It feeds visitors with food donated by members of the community and prepared by friends.
[Photo © Mallory Cramp-Waldinsperger]
A black staircase with photos hanging on the wall beside.
This staircase leads to the upstairs of the shop which houses more antiques and a furniture bank. [Photo ©  Santana Bellantoni]
A man cuts a woman's hair in the corner of a small room.
One volunteer, Margos Zakarian, visits the store every four to six weeks, to give free hair cuts to anyone who wants them. Another volunteer, Michelle Massih, takes a break from serving customers to have her hair cut. [Photo © Mallory Cramp-Waldinsperger]
Closeup image of the man focusing on cutting the woman's hair.
During the week, Zakarian manages his own salon called Studio of Conceptual Designs. As Zakariann cuts her hair, Massih says “I never tell him what to do, I just say do what you want.” [Photo © Mallory Cramp-Waldinsperger]
A lamp sits on top of a table beside a vintage manequin.
This moody mannequin inconspicuously sits on top of an embalming table. It used to be a table to preserve animal or human remains. Now it holds antiques and Zakarian’s hair tools. [Photo © Santana Bellantoni]
Many objects and chairs hang from the ceiling. A cat is also visible sitting on the counter.
The hustle and bustle of the day continues and as always, Zed is there to look after the store. [Photo ©  Mallory Cramp-Waldinsperger]