The Magic of Shopping Local

You wouldn’t catch me anywhere near a mall yesterday, and like many, the relentless ambush of my email box by retailers of all stripes had me sick of shopping before I’d even served my Thanksgiving turkey. Nevertheless, a certain 23-year-old daughter wanted to go shopping, and I was able to combine two virtues — walking and shopping local — into a pleasant little stroll into Montclair Center. The lovely weather continues today, and I heartily recommend the walk/shop combo.

Our first stop was Little Cricket Antiques at 416 Bloomfield Ave. in Montclair. It’s a jolly, beautifully-curated selection of antique furniture, decorative pieces (carnival chalkware, left, 30 percent off this weekend) and estate jewelry — the likes of which I guarantee you wouldn’t see at any mall.

Then I checked out two more antiques stores across the street on Glenridge Ave. — Blackbird Lane, where I picked up a faux Persian lamb black jacket for $35, and Jerry’s Antiques, where a couple was admiring a painting Jerry said had belonged to Marlene Deitrich, although he then had to explain just who Marlene Deitrich was. If you heard a more interesting conversation at the mall yesterday, be sure to leave it in the comments.

Finally I ambled onto Church Street itself, poking into Anthropologie, and winding up at Montclair Beadworks, where they’re heavily discounting everything for  a planned Dec. 31 denouement. I picked up two lovely handmade necklaces, reduced $25 to $18 — one for myself and one for a friend — before finding my way across the street to Chez Renee, where they were offering 50 percent on certain items and 20 percent on almost everything else, and succumbed to the charms of a hammered silver link belt for $90 — discounted to $72.

Today is also Small Business Saturday, an American-Express engineered event to celebrate and encourage shopping at small businesses — but none of the businesses I asked about it had registered or knew how it worked. Too bad, because I’d have liked to have brought the price of the belt down to $47.

I would have loved to have capped off a day of local shopping with an indie film at the Clairidge, but the bedbug situation being what it is, we splurged for the $15 seats at Essex Screen to watch “Hugo 3D” — the Scorsese film set in 1930’s Paris, which, as I tweeted last night, is “chocolate, inside a snow globe, hidden in a nesting Russian doll in an old Parisian flea market. Must see.”

If you went shopping yesterday, where did you go? And did you find magic — or madness?


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  1. Would like to support local stores, but where exactly have they gone? Walking down Bloomfield Ave is depressing–save for the restaurants, and Church Street, what a depressing downtown.

  2. There are some really quirky, interesting store you DO NOT find at the Malls. And then the restaurants are so great. There are some discounts available during this Holiday season at (Click on “Coupons” in Menu and print out)! need to support our local stores I think.

  3. I too, have ventured into Monclair Center to purchase a gift – or – something that I am looking for.
    I have found that 98-percent of the time, I canot find what I am looking for and on the rare chance that I do find something close to what I was looking for, it is more often than not, greatly overpriced. Parking is hard to find. unless one goes on a weekday before 10 AM.
    Bloomfield is a total waste of time, Unless you seek flowers from Roxy, one of the best florists around or perfume fronm Center Drug who has more colognes and perfumes than any Mall’s perfume counter !

    I go to where there are no meters, ever, to feed (Maplewood Center) or to centers where meters are wearing pretty little plastic “hats” over their “heads”.
    I try hard to stay away from Mauls (Misspelt on purpose) and meter maids waiting for the last 2 minutes to fly the RED flag on the meter, which I only experienced twice! Once in Blmfd. and once in M’Clair. Each time I arrived 4 or 6 minutes “late”, and that cost me $25.00 both times.
    I still have 3 weeks until Chanukkah, and have no idea what my wife would like. Our son wants a “day at the spa” for his car, at “Personal Touch” hand laundry on Walnut St. in Montclair. Wife just got a $1,000 set of a new washer & dryer, but I think she wants some perfume for Chanukkah.
    I don’t want anything. Just to be happy & healthy.

  4. I am currently enjoying my shopping day. I have so far bought 3 beers and some maple buffalo wings… All from Egans. Not on sale, but worth every penny! V happy shopper.

  5. Saw “Like Crazy” at the Claridge (enough about the bedbugs already!!), and “Hugo” at Bellevue. Really enjoyed them both. Did some shopping along Church Street and now am off to ‘Doin Dishes. I love this town!

  6. C’mon raeven,

    Why not:

    Aunt Jean’s Toys
    Just kidding around
    Little cricket
    Patagonia Outdoor
    Fleet Feet
    The Edge boutique
    Montclair Book Center
    Tory James Shoes
    Jerry’s Antiques

    Then stop for coffee at Trend and lunch at HLS cafe

    Back to:

    Urban Outfitters
    Anthropologie (sp?)
    Nest and Co.
    Go Lightly
    Hip Chic

    Then down North Fullerton to Dem Two Hands

    Swing around to Just jakes for a pint or three

    Work it all off at the YMCA

    Then finally dinner at Blu…

    What’s not to love…?

  7. Dragged my husband to the haberdasher on Bloomfield Avenue today to replace his skeevy old cap — even the salesman said “eeeew.” He got a great Harris Tweed cap, making him look as Irish as ever. We learned to call it a cap — not a hat, to handle a hat always by the brim, not the crown, and the difference between a porkpie and a fedora.

    Great store. I recommend it for all gentlemen who might like to cover their

  8. Has anyone been to that new shoe store “My Blue Suede Shoes” in Glen ridge (across from Fitzgeralds)? It looks really nice.

    Also “True North Osteria” is fairly new food place I think, getting great reviews. Anyone go yet to “Fin”, the new restaurant on Glenridge Avenue? (sister restaurant to “Salut”e on corner.

  9. I love to stop in at Flowers with Accents, Sweet Home Montclair, JafaJems, and Home for small gifts and interesting, unique things to give to people who already have everything. I want to still check out Fancy That and Little Cricket – also Garnish.

  10. I’ll tell you this — I’m just back from the UK and no one is buying a thing there either.

    Save for Greek vacations, of course!

  11. We use a personal shoplifter, and she really doesn’t like to be told where to do her browsing; it’s a security issue, I guess.

  12. I decided to support my local businesses on Black Friday, as well as give myself a nice, leisurely day of shopping in Montclair. I started on Valley Road in Upper Montclair and then moved to Watchung Plaza by the train station. However, I was so discouraged after Watchung Plaza (save for one store) that I didn’t even bother to head to downtown Montclair. Half of the stores had tacky and/or common items on display (“common” meaning I have seen them before at craft shows, in catalogs, or at other stores), and the other half had cute items but were, in my opinion, extremely overpriced. I managed to have some success at D’moni in Watchung Plaza (where I always have success, actually, plus find great sales) but Home Sweet Montclair, Jafajems, The Pink Bungalow, Barbara Eclectic, Thread, Piazza della Sole, etc.–I walked out disappointed by your selection and/or pricing. There were also few sales to be seen, and even if there were sales, they were not enough to convince me to pay the still-extravagant prices for the trinkets in their stores. Although I REALLY love living in this area, sometimes I just want to roll my eyes and say, “Get over yourself, Montclair.”

    I later went home, ordered from and some catalogs, and did the bulk of my Christmas shopping online. Sadly, shopping small business did nothing but remind me of why most people go to malls and/or shop online these days. But, when I want a white, tissue-fabric t-shirt on sale for $98, I know where to go.

  13. Not to mention the $300 colanders. Which, I believe, were all bought by the Brick Lane restaurant in Montclair and used as wall sconces. (See the picture accompanying Bernadette Baum’s review of Brick Lane in the Food section.)

    We shopped locally Sunday in Bloomfield for pet presents for our Angel Tree recipients. The nice folks at Brookdale Pets on Broad Street (across from Stamna) gave us a 10% discount when they found out the merchandise was going to a charitable cause. They get our business from now on.

  14. I do love Brookdale Pets. I go there frequently for my turtle supplies, and the staff is always helpful and friendly. They also have some really cute bunnies to visit and a nice store-cat to greet you when you enter the shop. Generally, that little strip of stores on Broad Street is great–Lucy’s Cleaners and Terry Drugs are favorites. Won is a fantastic tailor (especially for bridesmaid dresses!), and Joe is the nicest pharmacist there is. I really like being able to go into a store and know by name the people working there. These places DO make me happy to support small/independent businesses in town.

  15. I was a NY city kid, and I have lived in Boston, London, and San Antonio. In Boston I would do my food shopping for the week on Saturday in six different stores in the North End neighborhood (meat, bakery, produce, wine, etc.). You can shop local in cities because there is so much local there. But even today in the Brookdale section of Bloomfield, I walk to the bank, my barber, the lottery ticket/convenience store/emergency wine suppplier, decent pizza, Mickey D.’s (in the GSP Service area), the dry cleaner, and one of the best sushi restaurants in Baristaville. We usually drive to Boonsong, Mastriano’s, Stamna, Tony’s Hot Dogs,and Holsten’s, but we really can — and have — walked to all those places, too. When I shop ShopRite, I walk there, too (I have too much respect for my car to leave it where all those idiot drivers practice Braille parking). So it isn’t just Christmas Shopping that makes sense. If you have local merchants you can depend on, utilize them. I have also lived where there are no downtowns, few local stores at all, and you are at the mercy of the big box stores. It is a shame to see downtowns dry up and disappear.

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