Copabananas Splits…

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Copabananas, a Church Street institution for the past eight years and our hands-down favorite party/gift store, is leaving. Owner Clair Baker says the new lease is unaffordable – and for that matter – so is the rest of Montclair.
Baker, who grew up in Montclair, says “This could be a hiatus, or it could be forever. Maybe a miracle will happen. I’ve looked all over town and can’t find another store that I can afford. Actually, I love where we are. It’s the best location in Montclair and I can’t imagine it being anywhere else.”


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Yesterday, a sign on the door announced a 20% liquidation sale and the store closing. Customers are glum, Baker says. The temple of tricks and treats is the store of choice for Baristaville kids, and a can’t-miss stop for out-of-town visitors. It’s filled with quirky cards and retro gifts like potato shooters, pepper gum, Bush-bashing souvenirs and car bobblers that make you laugh out loud.
Baker will say her final goodbyes on January 24. Customers can still buy her most popular items through her website, and she’s just opened a virtual store on Ebay. But will that be enough to console the kids?
— Above, Claire Baker pictured with favorite Ugli Doll and rubber chicken.

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109 COMMENTS

  1. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
    This is the best store ever and the folks who work there are really friendly and helpful. This is such crappy news.

  2. This stinks! First the toy store and now this. The store is wonderful and adds much to the Church Street charm. I don’t know how much the rents are there, but it seems the variety of stores will be now be reduced to knitting and overpriced objects d’art. We have enough restaurants already.
    Regarding new space…KaBloom, perhaps?

  3. I’m just hoping the rumors of a major chain taking its place are not true.
    Copa Bananas needs to be replaced by another corporate store the same way we needed an Urban Outfitters on Park Street.
    ‘Cause, you know, 15 – 20 minutes is just too far to drive for a mall. :-/

  4. Hey — where is the good developer Dick G when you need him? Can you hook Claire up with any of your properties on Bloomfield Ave?

  5. There’s always downtown Bloomfield! Now that it’s apparently not going to be demolished, maybe some of these struggling merchants should move en masse.

  6. good idea, GDGC – that ex- Carvel store would be a GREAT spot. My kids love Copabananas, and that’d put it a lot closer to our house. (’cause its all about us, after all.)

  7. This is the ‘New’ Montclair envisioned by the ‘leadership’ slate.
    As long as the town council keeps spending money they don’t have, then expect more and more of the same.
    It’s a brilliant strategy for those who can afford to wait it out.
    It goes something like this…
    Leadership slate continues to spend like a kid in a candy store (with mom’s credit card in hand). Taxes continue to increase at 13% a year (at least mine does). Middle class and South end resident’s forced to move resulting in school test score improvement. Fancier eateries and shopping options grow to cater to ‘new’ residents who can afford such frivalty (Crisco dwellers?). Property values increase as a result of the creation of the Princeton of the north.
    Is it a suprise that variances are given to developers who cater to the wealthy or tax abatements for Volvo dealers?
    Does doubling the cost of parking permits at the rail stations (which is anti-environment) yet reducing the increase at local merchants play into this strategy?
    Wayfinding signs, fancy gazebos and new logos are all part of the plan. They must lure in the buyers to purchase the real estate from the those who can no longer afford to live here.
    Belgian block curbs and brick crosswalks?
    Need I say more?
    Wake up people and smell the wonderful stench of the new sewer tax.
    I guess Mattox was just getting in their way.

  8. Great! We need a Gap in the downtown area as well. We also need a Wachovia. A bank on Church St. will be awesome!

  9. No help coming from our friendly Dick Grabowsky . He is also driving out longtime tenants with his exorbitant rents.

  10. I still feel bad about the Over the Rainbow store that was forced out earlier this year. They did such a service for some of the homeless. Now there is a store that has less a grass roots approach, but does dedicate portions of proceeds from high end teas. The rents must be exhorbitant.

  11. You get the feeling that the flavor of Montclair is being rung out?
    I wish Bloomfield leadership could find ways to harness this Montclair talent.

  12. Copabananas is one of the best shops in Montclair. Surely there’s some other location in Mtc they could afford–Walnut St area? the Carvel’s in Upper Mtc?
    Good luck, Clair, whatever you do next. Keep us informed!

  13. Sigh. I love that store.
    Are retail-space rents going up because of taxes, or because the building owners think they can get more for the space (maybe because of the Siena)?

  14. The carvel is almost twice as expensive per square foot as their current location, anywhere in upper montclair is going to be prohibitive if they can’t afford Church Street rents.

  15. Dear 13%!
    You are right on target, but let me “tweak” and add to a couple of your statements:
    “Middle class and South end resident’s forced to move resulting in school test score improvement. ”
    Test scores aren’t going up because middle class, or “south end” people are moving out. IF they’re going up it’s because the BOE is “actively managing” test scores via consulting help, special classes, etc. Forget about “education,” it’s now all about the tests!
    “Does doubling the cost of parking permits at the rail stations (which is anti-environment) yet reducing the increase at local merchants play into this strategy?”
    The Town’s money “strategy” seems to be fleece the taxpayers for hundred of dollars here and there while continuing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in other places, like Wayfinding signs or moving the ball field seventeen feet. Putting $100 into your pocket while simultaneously taking $10,000 out, if done enough times won’t make things even out — it will make you broke!
    “Belgian block curbs and brick crosswalks?”
    Just an FYI, in some cases it’s difficult to say WHY some of these projects are being done! It’s like someone within the Town decides they should be done and it just moves forward! Forget the cost, or what the residents are asking for. It’s the town who decides they “need it.” Look at that expensive mess on Myrtle!

  16. It was a cute store. With a great Gothic facade, the building always reminded me of the kind of place where Martin Luther would purchase his “linen.” And it was a place where someone of waggish intent like myself actually shopped 4-5 times a year, something that helped keep Church Street well out of the ordinary. Copabananas will be missed and I know whatever succeeds it won’t have even one tenth its innate charm.

  17. Certainly not one tenth the charm — and not even one thousandth of its Spud Shooters or Houdini action figures!
    Copabananas, you will be missed! All the best in your next incarnation, Ms. Baker.

  18. Verona has several vacant storefronts on Bloomfield Ave, and y’know, we’re just down the road a piece!!

  19. If a quarter of the people who say they loved this store actually bought stuff from it they might have not had to close up. Same goes to Carvels. As they say, people vote with their feet.

  20. This is such a sad loss for the business community of Montclair. I have had the good fortune of knowing Claire as a retail “neighbor” and friend for 8 years.
    Copabananas adds significantly to the fabric of our shopping district and what differentiates Montclair from Anywhere,USA.
    It is most unfortunate to hear that unreasonable rents have led to this loss. If a seasoned retailer with a following such as Claire’s cannot absorb the rent increase or find an appropriate rate amongst the growing vacancies, perhaps the rents have escalated to unrealistic levels?
    All our best to you, Claire…we can hope that something changes between now and January 24th. You and Copabananas will be missed.

  21. Tyler,
    People say this EVERY time a store closes! Well, you know what? There were tons of people patronizing this store, as well as the others that have closed down. Think up another story. If one’s rent TRIPLES, it kinda makes it hard to survive, wouldn’t you agree?
    And if you think this is the last store on Church to shutter, wrong-o bucko! Be patient …..

  22. I’ve dropped a lot of my disposable income at Copabananas and I’ve also spread the word about them to my local friends. This is really sad news. But there’s always BLOOMFIELD!

  23. Priced out Montclair stores should head to Bloomfield, the rents are half and the potential is huge. Follow the good sense of StarSeed Yoga and make the 1-2 mile voyage – Yoga, Mexican Food, pretty soon maybe an antique store . . .then who knows?

  24. Now that Bloomfield’s ill-conceived eminent domain redevelopment strategy is (hopefully) DOA, the Bloomfield Township Council should instead channel their energies into devising strategies that would entice desireable high-rent refugees such as this to our downtown.
    I certainly wish no ill on anyone in Montclair (probably because I don’t have to pay taxes there), but for one reason or another it seems like the ongoing gentrification in Montclair will mean more business displacements down the road as property owners try to cash in. Our township council should make Montclair’s losses into Bloomfield’s gain.
    Would you loyal customers of Copabananas still frequent the store as often if it did relocate to Bloomfield?

  25. Pork Roll asks: Would you loyal customers of Copabananas still frequent the store as often if it did relocate to Bloomfield?
    Answer — not as much — my kids can jump on their bikes and ride down their now — Bloomfield is a little too far away there and back on two wheels

  26. I’m a loyal customer AND I live in Bloomfield. It would be a win/win situation if Claire could find an affordable storefront there.

  27. All of these buildings are owned by people who do not give a crap about Montclair. They get in, get their money, and when they’ve made it so that only burger king and quiznos and starbucks and corporate chain stores can afford the rents, forced out all the locally-owned businesses, and most of the reasons why we moved here in the first place are gone, … well, who cares? They don’t have to live here!!
    These landlords and developers are in it for nothing but money. They don’t care about us, the town, or anything, just money.
    It sickens me when I see everyone thinking of stores being “priced out” as just a phenomenon. No. It’s something that is done intentionally, by a person. Rents are not like inflation. Some greedy &*%$ tripled their rent.
    I ran away from the East Village after this happened there, only to find it happening here in Montclair.

  28. We are soon to be a town of chain stores and restaurants. Forget the charm of places like CopaBannanas. Give us an Olive Garden and maybe a TJMaxx on Church Street. That’ll pack em in.

  29. Pork Roll is 100% on target regarding Bloomfield and their ill advised redevelopment scheme. If they took 10% of the time and money they put into lining the pockets of Forest City Developers and put it into recruiting tenants for Bloomfield Center the place would be well on its way to prosperity. What a foolish mayor Bloomfield has.

  30. Small retail stores go out of business for many reasons. One may be excessive rent – but there is also the factor of huge insurance bills, utility bills, labor bills, etc. etc. The fact remains that the days of the small retailer are numbered. Some small niche businesses may survive for the time being but overall the highways and malls have proved to be the winners. The bottom line is that while people complain about both the highway and malls -that is where they shop. Small retailers RIP.

  31. Hey Amandala — what are you smoking making a statement like this: “These landlords and developers are in it for nothing but money. They don’t care about us, the town, or anything, just money”. I wanna make sure you realize that you are living in the USA — that is, the world’s center of capitalism…you know the country where thousands of people are trying to sneak in each year to get a taste of what its like to live in a place where you reap what you sow?. As painful as it is for much of this chat group to accept, the last time I checked, landlords can charge whatever the marketplace deems a fair price. Yes, it’s sad that Copabananas has to close its doors…but there will be another landlord, down the street or in the next town that will welcome this great store with open arms. Yes, landlords are in it for the money — just like the store owners who rent space from them.

  32. has anything gone into the old madison building? the dance studio had to relocate due to an emormous rent increase.
    yes, everyone is in it for the money. but where does it end? when you have vacant houses and storefronts, and the tenants and patrons find new places/areas to go? great community development. landlords can get rich without gouging.

  33. …but where does it end? when you have vacant houses and storefronts, and the tenants and patrons find new places/areas to go?
    Actually, yes, that is EXACTLY how it works. Then the landlords (or the banks that seize the buildings) lower the asking rents, people move in, and the cycle starts anew.

  34. Too bad; they were a good source for cards and gifts. I liked the vibe; sort of a Cat’s Pajamas but not quite.
    What will come next? I don’t want to think about it…how about a CD shop sort of like Tunes in Hoboken but appropriately stocked to the Montclair demographic. That is what I would like to see.

  35. The sad part is that the process will include wonderful stores like Copabananas getting priced out in the interim. With a pending surplus (my opinion, but the signs are there) of available retail/commercial space in Montclair, you could end up with a situation where the ultimate Copabanana replacement is not paying much more than the current tenant. We had some ugly family experience with a commercial property in the early 90’s real estate recession — all the R.E. professionals, appraisers, etc., were using late ’80’s data to justify what proved to be ridiculous valuations (almost 3x what we eventually received).

  36. It is easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than for a greedy man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

  37. appletony, you’re right. By the time the place is re-rented, income is lost. The new rent may end up being only be slightly higher than the previous tenant’s.

  38. “Pork Roll asks: Would you loyal customers of Copabananas still frequent the store as often if it did relocate to Bloomfield?”
    That may not matter…I live in Bloomfield and love the store but find going up to Church Street to be somewhat of a pain…there is a great location on Broad Street down the street from Rita’s that I think would make a great new spot for the store….and I have a lot of friends that I think would feel the same way.

  39. Copabananas will be sorely missed. But I can’t help but think there must be someplace in Montclair that has rents that are reasonable to sustain their business.
    What about east of Seymour Street, down near Diva’s? Lots of open retail there. What about on Walnut Street where Bee’s Knees was? South End?
    They have prime location on Church Street. Losing it sucks for sure, but there’s lots of space available off of Church Street….

  40. “…how about a CD shop sort of like Tunes in Hoboken but appropriately stocked to the Montclair demographic. That is what I would like to see.”
    There are 2 record shops that have either shrunk or closed in the Montclair area in the recent past (both due to huge rent hikes).
    Cafe Soundz and Romp ‘n Stomp were forced into the same space because the landlord kept jacking up Bobby’s rent (it has since been replaced by a cell phone store…) and Let it Rock was forced out so Cuban Pete’s could expand their kitchen.

  41. And CD stores are going the way of the dinosaurs, what with ipods and MP3 players. Tower Records just folded, and I was at a loss what to get my son for Christmas– he doesn’t play CDs anymore!

  42. One town’s loss may be another town’s gain. Agree with several posters that Bloomfield could be a good place for retailers to relocate. Some people who were priced out of buying homes in Montclair are now residing in Bloomfield. Stores might follow. If only Bloomfield had the leadership to entice both groups.
    Of course, this trend wouldn’t bode well for the Montclair we know and love.
    Can anyone say: RED BANK?

  43. Seriously bummed out. it’s such an interesting store – I bought many cards there as well as some other fun gifts. it would be great if they could relocate to Bloomfield – perhaps I’ll be going soon as well. just unsure about the schools for my kids – would anyone like to convince me?

  44. Bloomfield has lots going for it right now (full disclosure: I live there) but the leadership and schools are nothing great. It seems the Bloomfield Center area has great promise, and Senoritas (say bye bye Mexicali Rose) is doing a great job, and to their credit took a VERY risky move situating themselves there. I think Copabananas could do some decent business, but it would be far a riskier move for them at this point than it was for the folks behind the Senorita venture (deeper pockets, etc). All told… it could happen for Bloomfield, but I think it’s going to take a while.

  45. I am really saddened by this. I love that store!
    I knew this would happen shortly after Toys in the Attic and Dexterity had their rent increase enough to push them out. Will this happend to Beans also?
    I heard that Dick paved the way for other landlords to triple thier rents also.
    These high rents will push out most of the small mom and pop businesses and put in retail chain stores.
    I think that Montclair’s shopping charm was the unique funky shops but now they are quickly dissapearing.

  46. Oh no Claire! That’s amazingingly sucky!
    You should consider Bloomfield Center, maybe near Seniorita’s.

  47. Exactly–the shopping charm included the stores mentioned above and others forgotten, sadly. I get a weird sensation when I go into Bean’s; the only place I get my coffee. Love that Celebes, Peaberry and Ethopian Jargacheffe-but I digress.
    And what is happening to Stockpot? Although it is a bit staid for me, I love their soups. I sense farewell there too.
    Did anyone go to that charming Tea space opposite Starseed on Glen Ridge Avenue? I wanted Mu Tea, the kind I used to love when….I can’t find it these decades. It is lovely but I wonder how will they make it? How many bookstore and Starseed folk want tea?
    And what must that rent be?

  48. i always find it interesting to hear montclairians complain about higher prices, higher rents, closed storefronts, lack of diversity. Aren’t these the same people who just payed $75k over ask on their house, knowing their taxes were already 15k/year? What kind of town were you/we expecting to live in if the cost of entry is so prohibitive? We all pay taxes for the better schools, however the true irony is that the wealthy montclairian sends their kids to private school. a town full of contradictions. interesting calculation…if prop taxes are going up 6%/yr, and you’re paying 15k now, you’ll be paying 20k in 5 years and 26,800 in 10years. Not even counting the huge increase in reval expected.

  49. Some of us were lucky enough to buy our homes 8+ years ago and did not pay the high prices that are being asked for today, we also did not expect our taxes to go up as much as they have, and we actually do plan on sending our children to the public school system. This is not the type of town that we expected to live in and we fear that the ever increasing costs will drive us out.

  50. “This is not the type of town that we expected to live in and we fear that the ever increasing costs will drive us out.”
    It already has. Just drive around Baristaville and look at all the For Sale signs.

  51. Dick Grabowsky does not own the property where Copabananas resides. It must be some other landlord who paid a lot for a property & who pays Montclair’s high taxes who wants to get market rent. Before you start blaming the only guy in town who has brought us some really cool stores and is spending millions to improve the aesthetics of his properties, consider how much the price of everything else real estate reated in this town has gone up. No, you can’t rent a house for $800 anymore or a retail store for $1500.

  52. unbelievable,
    ” Aren’t these the same people who just payed $75k over ask on their house”
    That’s a realtor ploy. Undervalue the asking price so it looks like they got the seller a lot more for the money.

  53. The thought of more chains sickens me. Really, who goes to Quiznos? (Sorry for sounding elitist.) Oh, wait, an Olive Garden would be a great family dining treat for Hotel Montclair guests.

  54. I’m not particularly surprised that another favorite place is being forced out of Montclair due to money. I’ve lived here 40+ yrs–came for the college, stayed for the atmosphere,etc. I no longer have the income to really afford it here, but continue to hang on. The fact that landlords can charge OUTRAGEOUS rents, whether to commercial OR private renters, really pisses me off. A store that offers not only wonderful hard-to-find as well as hilarious gifts,cards,etc. ought to be allowed to survive. (I miss the Orion Bookstore in U. Mtcl. too).Church Street already chased out other merchants including one of my favorites- “Over the Rainbow” due to excessive rents. When is Montclair going to wake up?? All the rich people can afford to do whatever they want to– shop anywhere– (Oh, yes, the Olympic also folded),spend big bucks,send kids to private schools,etc., but at what cost? Our town is losing its character because being a ‘little out of the mainstream’ is more expensive than ever. I do hope Copabananas finds a new home nearby that they can afford so loyal customers can still shop there.

  55. montclair should subsidize giftshops so we can keep the charm alive. it could be a surcharge on our taxes. maybe they should cut the parking meter rate though. who wants to buy a $25 knicknak from a giftshop and pay $4.75 in parking? maybe more people will shop here then

  56. Dick Grabowsky is putting millions into his properties? Besides the red cheetah, is this guy even a developer? Where are the millions? He’s owned the Hinck building for half a decade now and not a single dollar put into it

  57. Everyone complains about increasing rents, store closings, etc. Why do most of the retailers on Church close at 5:00pm on Fridays and Saturdays when most people do their shopping with their families. Shoppers have lives such as work, soccer practice etc. which in most cases makes it inconvenient to run into town between 11:00-5:00, which is the norm for store hours on Church Street. Even during the holiday shopping season most stores closed early perhaps only staying open 1 hour past normal closing hours. It isn’t just the landlords fault, the blame additionally has to fall to the retailer. Unfortunately the stores on Church Street have a reputation of closing early, so naturally shoppers are forced to go to the malls or chain stores which they know are opened later. With the exception of a few stores which stay opened late and are rumored to generate decent late night sales from the restaurant and movie goers, there appears to be no urgency by the retailers to make any changes to generate additional revenue to offset rent, insurance, and tax increases.

  58. I’m devistated! It’s one of the coolest stores in town- every time I go in,I get a much needed laugh! What the hell!!!!,what a shame!!!!!

  59. it is so true. downtown montclair is crawling with more people at night then during the day. why mostof these stores aren’t open is beyond me. i’d imagine it would help pay the sky high rent.

  60. Yes, it is rather sad that the stores shut their doors at such an early hour. When I arrive from work anywhere from 7-11 pm, I sometimes get the urge to stroll Church Street and do more than peer in windows.
    Perhaps one night weekly, open until 8 pm. Just think; a film, a croissant, a bauble.

  61. Ikanwrite: When I arrive from work anywhere from 7-11 pm…
    Are you in advertising, by any chance?
    I remember those hours. And some 2ams as well!

  62. “It is so true. downtown Montclair is crawling with more people at night then during the day. why most of these stores aren’t open is beyond me. I’d imagine it would help pay the sky high rent.”
    Here’s some thoughts:
    I often spoke to the wonderful lady at Dexterity about all things Montclair. Dexterity, in my mind one of the most wonderful stores in Montclair, used to stay open late at night and I would often go by after a movie and there would be half a dozen shoppers with me.
    Here’s the scoop, plain and simple: Dexterity closed because of astronomical increases in rent.
    And believe me, the other fabulous stores, including Toys in the Attic, closed for similar reasons.
    Discount it all you want, but when your rent doubles or triples, it’s hard to stay put no matter how late you stay open.

  63. The Church Street of tomorrow:
    Applebees, Bed Bath and Beyond (tearing through the walls of seven to 10 of the stores), Mail Boxes Etc, Scrapbooking megastore, 24hr Dry Cleaners, another Starbucks and an AMC multiplex to replace the Clairidge.
    Watch and wait!

  64. are you sure the only reason Dexterity closed was because of rents? Word from reliable sources is that she was tired of the commute from New York and was ready to retire or open closer to her home.

  65. Don’t you just love the people who post here and have nothing but disparaging comments to make? The closing of Copabananas, Dexterity & Over the Rainbow had nothing to do with rising rents. Over the Rainbow was the dirtiest, most disgusting store in all of Montclair with an owner who lived in the store and slept on the floor. He had 4 years left on his lease and store closed only because only he had no business because the place was disgusting. Dexterity closed because Shirley retired. It had nothing to do with rents. The same is true of Copabananas. The owners of the last two stores lived in NY and did not want to commute any longer. Businesses don’t stay in business forever.
    Dick Grabowsky, who is indeed a developer in every sense of the word, had absolutely nothing to do with these closings. Yes, perhaps rents do rise, as do house prices, milk prices, gas prices, and everything else. Grabowsky put over a million dollars into the facade of the Red Cheetah, which if you remember, was one of the least attractive facades in all of Montclair. And he put over two million dollars into the structural mechanical parts of the Hinck Building in the three years that he’s owned it.

  66. “are you sure the only reason Dexterity closed was because of rents? Word from reliable sources is that she was tired of the commute from New York and was ready to retire or open closer to her home.”
    You need new sources. She commuted to, and loved Montclair, for something like 23 years. She was in the store 7 days per week, many times until 11PM. She gave and gave to the community.
    By no means has she retired. Anyone who knows her knows she is quite a “live wire.” She has been looking in NYC and I for one hope to be one of her first customers when she does open in NYC!
    Apparently, she had discussed halving the space, sharing it with the new wine store, but negotiations broke down.
    Now tell me, how does an outdoor fleece store manage to afford rents in Montclair, such store now occupying the former Dexterity “half store?”

  67. Dexterity was way too expensive for my budget– beautiful stuff , but even a small knickknack there was more than I could afford. Could be I was not alone in that.

  68. I have resisted responding to some of the postings concerning the closing of Copabananas until I started reading some opinions about why small businesses close. “intermilan” believes that Claire lives in NYC – not true – she was raised in Montclair and moved back after college and several years away. She loves her business and her customers and the only reason she is closing is because of unreasonable rent demands from her landlady. Independent business owners have many expenses beyond rent – inventory is the largest followed by insurance, taxes, employee payroll, and many more. When the rent becomes outrageous and a reasonable living wage is no longer a viable option, many small business owners are forced to close. Yet another reason to patronize our local businesses!

  69. I have resisted responding to some of the postings concerning the closing of Copabananas until I started reading some opinions about why small businesses close. “intermilan” believes that Claire lives in NYC – not true – she was raised in Montclair and moved back after college and several years away. She loves her business and her customers and the only reason she is closing is because of unreasonable rent demands from her landlady. Independent business owners have many expenses beyond rent – inventory is the largest followed by insurance, taxes, employee payroll, and many more. When the rent becomes outrageous and a reasonable living wage is no longer a viable option, many small business owners are forced to close. Yet another reason to patronize our local businesses!

  70. I have resisted responding to some of the postings concerning the closing of Copabananas until I started reading some opinions about why small businesses close. “intermilan” believes that Claire lives in NYC – not true – she was raised in Montclair and moved back after college and several years away. She loves her business and her customers and the only reason she is closing is because of unreasonable rent demands from her landlady. Independent business owners have many expenses beyond rent – inventory is the largest followed by insurance, taxes, employee payroll, and many more. When the rent becomes outrageous and a reasonable living wage is no longer a viable option, many small business owners are forced to close. Yet another reason to patronize our local businesses!

  71. I have resisted responding to some of the postings concerning the closing of Copabananas until I started reading some opinions about why small businesses close. “intermilan” believes that Claire lives in NYC – not true – she was raised in Montclair and moved back after college and several years away. She loves her business and her customers and the only reason she is closing is because of unreasonable rent demands from her landlady. Independent business owners have many expenses beyond rent – inventory is the largest followed by insurance, taxes, employee payroll, and many more. When the rent becomes outrageous and a reasonable living wage is no longer a viable option, many small business owners are forced to close. Yet another reason to patronize our local businesses!

  72. I have resisted responding to some of the postings concerning the closing of Copabananas until I started reading some opinions about why small businesses close. “intermilan” states that Claire lives in NYC – not true – she was raised in Montclair and moved back after college and several years away. The only reason she is closing is because of unreasonable rent demands from her landlady. Independent business owners have many expenses beyond rent – inventory is the largest followed by insurance, taxes, employee payroll, and many more. When the rent becomes outrageous and a reasonable living wage is no longer a viable option, many small business owners are forced to close. Yet another reason to patronize your local businesses!

  73. I have resisted responding to some of the postings concerning the closing of Copabananas until I started reading some opinions about why small businesses close. “intermilan” states that Claire lives in NYC – not true – she was raised in Montclair and moved back after college and several years away. The only reason she is closing is because of unreasonable rent demands from her landlady. Independent business owners have many expenses beyond rent – inventory is the largest followed by insurance, taxes, employee payroll, and many more. When the rent becomes outrageous and a reasonable living wage is no longer a viable option, many small business owners are forced to close. Yet another reason to patronize your local businesses!

  74. I have resisted responding to some of the postings concerning the closing of Copabananas until I started reading some opinions about why small businesses close. “intermilan” states that Claire lives in NYC – not true – she was raised in Montclair and moved back after college and several years away. The only reason she is closing is because of unreasonable rent demands from her landlady. Independent business owners have many expenses beyond rent – inventory is the largest followed by insurance, taxes, employee payroll, and many more. When the rent becomes outrageous and a reasonable living wage is no longer a viable option, many small business owners are forced to close. Yet another reason to patronize your local businesses!

  75. I have resisted responding to some of the postings concerning the closing of Copabananas until I started reading some opinions about why small businesses close. “intermilan” states that Claire lives in NYC – not true – she was raised in Montclair and moved back after college and several years away. The only reason she is closing is because of unreasonable rent demands from her landlady. Independent business owners have many expenses beyond rent – inventory is the largest followed by insurance, taxes, employee payroll, and many more. When the rent becomes outrageous and a reasonable living wage is no longer a viable option, many small business owners are forced to close. Yet another reason to patronize your local businesses!

  76. “Dexterity was way too expensive for my budget– beautiful stuff , but even a small knickknack there was more than I could afford. Could be I was not alone in that.”
    Dexterity had things that varied in price from $4.00 to over $3,000!
    Over the years I bought earrings, pins, and bracelets, all one of a kind items, from $35 to $300. Occasionally, for a special anniversary or Christmas present, I would spend a little more.
    When my children were younger, they would buy mom “dangling” earrings made from colored glass. None cost more than $35. There were also paperweights for $5, heart shaped knick knacks for $4, and so on.
    Everything anyone bought, even if it cost $35, came with a card as to who the artist was, their contribution to the art, their method, etc. And at the same time Shirley would give you “a talk” with each item once again explaining how the artist had been discovered, whether the pieces were likely to rise in value because the artist had made a limited number, etc., etc.
    Shirley was much more than a nameless seller of ordinary jewelry. Her stuff was “the real thing” and Shirley was the real thing.
    I have to tell one story. Recently a friend was planning a trip to Japan and went looking for a gift. “Gifts” are a big deal in Japan, and you usually look for something special, from the place you are coming from.
    So, my friend went shopping in Upper Montclair, and Montclair looking for a “gift.” A bowl, a vase, ceramic work, etc.
    At each store he would ask just to see the stuff from the US.
    He was surprised at the number of stores that couldn’t show him ANYTHING.
    Travel around town on recycling day in the business district. Look at the cardboard boxes being picked up. See where the stuff is coming from at these high priced places!

  77. Pondering,
    No, not quite; I am not in advertising. Last semester the college classes that I taught were all afternoon into late evening. This semester should be more daytime/early evening.
    Even alighting from the bus at 8pm and finding all closed is a bit depressing and oh, so suburban.

  78. Well, Longtime Montclair, that sounds like a VERY long time ago!
    My mom has a paperweight collection, and I checked out the paperweights there. $5 for a paperweight, or even $35, would have been within my budget– the ones I saw there were way more than that!
    I also love glass earrings, but I never saw any there that I could afford– again, I can’t spend more than about $35 for a pair.

  79. I’m curious…
    Everyone is bitching about money coming into town. Would you rather have poverty moving into town?
    I love Copabananas. I’m sure they love their premier Chruch Street location. I’m also very sure that any business could find affordable rents in town. Will it be the premier spot on Church? Ah, no. Go down the avenue. Open up in a vacant location. Quit your moaning and crying.
    Does anyone remember downtown 10 years ago? No? It’s probably because you moved here from Park Slope last year. If you’ve lived in town for any length of time you know that downtown today is bustling and booming in comparison.
    Stop bitching already…

  80. Once Dexterity moved, it seems they no longer carried moderately priced goods. Most things were a bit pricey. I also bought many of those glass earrings and bracelets, as well as other things. It was a great place to buy gifts.

  81. I have not been a Montclair resident since 2001. I moved out West to enjoy low taxes, wonderful schools and sq/ft per dollar prices that was once beyond my imagination. I currently reside in a brand new 4200 sq ft home in a gated subdivision with all of the MTV Cribs stuff added by the builder for the cost of a condo where the bowling alley used to be on Bloomfield Ave. My taxes are probobly equal to what I spent dining and drinking in Montclair (NOT MUCH!) in a year. Infrastructure in my new home of Frisco, TX is a local priority with new schools with campus like settings pop up like pot holes do on Valley Rd. I will be the first to admit that when I left I thought it was the biggest mistake of my life. I was reduced to a real life version of Steve Martin’s character in My Blue Heaven. I learned early on not to be a patron of any dining establishment that claims the geography of another place…NYPD- New York Pizza and Deli comes to mind. Lesson learned: if they deep fry meat for a Philly Cheesesteak it will not be a pleasant experience. I miss Star Tavern where I saw my first Super Bowl on TV as a child and played Benny and the Jets over and over on the jukebox. I miss the grease stains on my pants from the ride home with a Jimmy Buff’s Italian Hot Dog. I miss a bagel. A REAL bagel! And no…bagel chips don’t count. And guess what else? I miss Chris and The Midtown Diner. Sure, he had issues. They were only made public because that’s where he and his family were about 18 hours a day. I doubt any of us could stand up to the harsh light of public scrutiny and come out looking like a super model. I have learned to adjust. My mother mails me good, skinless kosher hot dogs. We now have a Carvel and yes it tastes the same. My kids go to public schools and receive the best education in the state for free. Not only that…a bus picks them up and drops them off. Woo Hoo! Instead of the DeCamp bus and the million other commuters on my way into “town”, I drive 4 miles and don’t even have to parallel park when I get there. My wife has to actually drive 7 miles and thinks I’m spoiled. I have not shoveled snow since I left and the only salt I use is in the kitchen. It is still “The South”. A teacher was recently fired for taking students to The Dallas Museum of Art where the kids were exposed to nudes. It was an 8th grade class. Montclair is a GREAT place but it’s not the only place. If I copuld get my Mom to move here no one would ever see me in Essex County again. Happy New Year!!!

  82. I’d have to say from living in both Texas and NJ, it is a close race for the most dismal. Texas was friendly, but suburban sprawls like Plano and Frisco were anything but individual. Sure you can find parking anywhere, save for Mockingbird Station and a handful of Uptown eateries, but how boring and bland it is! Flatland, parched earth. And Essex county, though bountiful with trees, is the most aggressive, densely packed opposite. I’d have to pick Montclair. It may lack Southern sweetness and parking, but look at it! There are still a lot of old buildings with gorgous architecture and landscapes. In Texas you have to settle with concrete, saplings and enough generic strip malls to make you go lose any sense of community.

  83. My post confused me. I am trying to compliment Montclair, but it came off wrong in the first sentence. One more time:
    Montclair wins over Texas.
    I don’t love how crowded it feels, compared to the space of a Texas city.
    BUT, it is gorgeous and oh, how I missed the trees and the red bricks!
    Thanks and Happy new year to all!

  84. As a non upscale Montclair business owner for almost three years I am concerned about what the future holds for us in Montclair. Not only with a change in the shops but also the added traffic from the new buildings and parking problems.
    I think raising the parking rates will be a detriment for the local businesses. I used to get complaints as it was about the parking in town. But I guess the town thinks that the upscale shoppers will not care how much they pay for parking or parking tickets. If they can find a parking spot.
    I hope Montclair doesn’t turn into another Hoboken.
    I think Bloomfield or Verona is not a bad idea.

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