Category Archives: Cranford NJ Shopping

Anthem Style + Gift Boutique is Downtown Cranford’s Hip New Shop!

AnthemMake no mistake, Downtown Cranford has become one of the hottest town centers in NJ with its influx of exciting new restaurants and shops! The recently opened ANTHEM STYLE + GIFT boutique has greatly added to the appeal of downtown, and customers are traveling from far and wide to check out this trendy store!

Anthem owner Cori Eberling grew up in Cranford, graduated from Cranford High School in 2005, and went on to work in retail and e-commerce merchandising. Cori said, “I’ve always wanted to open a store, and I knew if I didn’t try to do this now, I’d never pull the trigger.”

I’m always curious as to why business owners choose Cranford as their outpost. Cori said, “I looked at a lot of different downtowns. There are so many things going on here that weren’t around when I was younger–new businesses and restaurants. So Cranford pulled me back in! I really want to thank the local community for the great response. We’ve had such a good reception since we opened.”

The interior of ANTHEM is totally modern and hip, and unlike any other store in Cranford, with eye-catching decor and fixtures that reflect Cori’s style. It looks more like the types of boutiques you see in Montclair or Red Bank or even Manhattan. Cori designed the space herself, with the help of her mother and a local contractor. How impressive that a woman so young is not only operating her own business but also designed it from top to bottom!

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The inventory is a mixture of women’s clothing, accessories, jewelry, and eclectic home goods and gifts. According to Cori: “Our primary demographic is ages 18-35, but we still cater to well beyond that. I try to have a little bit of everything for everyone.”

Anthem carries brands you might already know, such as Free People and House of Harlow (Nicole Richie’s beautiful line of accessories–I’ve bought several pieces myself!). But Cori seeks out independent designers you may never have heard of, ones whose designs are killer but without jaw-dropping price tags. “And I try to find designers who manufacture in the USA whenever possible. A lot of the jewelry is handmade in America.”

I asked Cori what’s been selling like hotcakes in the shop. She replied, “A vegan leather jacket that we carry keeps selling out. We even ordered it in another color, and that too has been flying off the shelves. The Swell water bottles are also selling extremely well.”

Anthem will be participating in the Downtown Cranford events we all look forward to, like sidewalk sales, Family Night Out, and so on. And there are always great sales going on in the store–head to the racks at the back corner of the shop to find the bargains!

The next time you need a gift for a special a lady in your life (it’s just about time to buy teacher gifts!), or if you need a killer outfit for the weekend, visit Athem first, because chances are, you’re going to find something perfect!

Anthem is located on the corner of North Union and Alden Streets. The shop is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 7 pm, Sundays 11 am to 4 pm. Follow Anthem on facebook and Instagram to get all the latest goings-on. You can also shop their extensive online collection at

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Periwinkle’s Fine Gifts in Cranford…. A Very Special Shop!

PeriwinklesWhat many people love most about the Cranford-Westfield area are the thriving downtown districts, especially the independently run small businesses. While it’s true that small businesses have a tough time staying in business these days, there are many establishments in our area that have been flourishing for decades. One such businesses is a favorite boutique of mine: Periwinkle’s Fine Gifts in Downtown Cranford, which has been operating for an impressive 26 years!

Recently I caught up with Periwinkle’s owner Elaine Moffett to discuss the secrets of her success in town. According to Elaine: “In our 26 years of Periwinkles, a lot has changed in retail and tech. We have always strived to embrace these changes with new ideas in buying, design, and social media. The one thing that has not changed is our personal service to our customers. That, we believe, is key. People are not numbers, especially in a small town. Over these years it all comes back to the love of my customers—they are all so special to me!”

I couldn’t agree more with Elaine, that exceptional customer service elevates any business above the rest. It’s one of the things that keeps me coming back to Periwinkle’s for every darn holiday, every birthday, every milestone gift I need to buy. Elaine has personally helped me select gifts that I might not have considered without her advice. And every gift you purchase in store is lovingly gift-wrapped and ready to give; don’t you just love that?!

As for the well-curated inventory of at Periwinkle’s, Elaine said, “We stay on top of trends, be it jewelry, home décor, baby, or hostess gifts. The best of best are chosen to be in our store, keeping in mind the high demands of consumers today for quality. Our bestselling items are probably personalized items, especially our ‘town’ items. We cover 5 towns, and Periwinkle’s has designed Town Afghans for each, depicting scenes of each town. Also coasters with est. dates of towns, wooden signs and magnets—all from companies in the USA. Our customers love the unique items we present . . . items they never even knew existed.”

Spring is the perfect time to visit Periwinkle’s, as the store is full of bright Easter and spring-themed merchandise. I know I need to get my hands on their Belgian chocolate bunnies ASAP! If you like decorating your home for Easter, you must see the hand-painted chick eggs imported from Austria—Periwinkle’s has been importing these for more than 20 years! Every egg you purchase comes with a charming little story card describing how the eggs are painted in a little Austrian village, so they make a great hostess gift as well.

Don’t forget that Periwinkle’s also has a nice selection of greeting cards—often on sale! That has come in handy sooooo many times when I’ve been walking through town, see Perwinkle’s, and suddenly remember someone’s birthday!

The next time you have to buy a gift for someone, head over to Perwinkle’s. I guarantee you’ll be greeted with a smile by Elaine and her adorable “assistant” Ginger (the sweetest little dog you’ll ever meet), and you’ll walk out with just the right gift. When you’re in the shop, make sure to sign up for their e-mail list so you can receive exclusive coupons and find out about fun events in-store, such as the annual Kentucky Derby hat contest, sip-n-shop nights (with cocktails!), visits from the REAL Santa Claus, and many more.

Periwinkle’s is located at 19 N. Union Ave. in Cranford. Visit them on Facebook: Periwinkle’s Fine Gifts or shop from home on their website:

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Cranford’s Lemondrop Designs Offers Amazing Handcrafted Custom Signs & Gifts

Ask anyone who knows me—I LOVE gift-giving. But it’s local small businesses like LEMONDROP DESIGNS that make the “job” of giving extraordinary gifts so easy. If you haven’t seen the work of Lemondrop Designs, head over to her Facebook page immediately. Owner Marcy Duarte’s handpainted signs are just beautiful, and you’ll find that many of them will make you feel warm and fuzzy from the meanings behind the painted words. 

Marcy started Lemondrop Designs in October of last year, although at the time she didn’t foresee what a flourishing business it would become. Her husband had finished building beds for their boys, and there was a good bit of scrap wood leftover. According to Marcy, “I used some of the wood to make a sign for my son’s teacher’s birthday, and she asked me if I also sold them. So I said, ‘Why, um, yes, I do!’ and went from there.”

There’s a lovely dichotomy to Marcy’s work: her signs are at once rustic and trendy, vintage and contemporary, whimsical and sentimental. Among her repertoire you’ll find distressed shabby-chic signs with very simple words, such as “Beach” or “Laundry.” But you’ll also find signs with poignant Shakespearan quotes, and hilarious signs such as one that reads: “Remember, as far as anyone knows, we’re a nice family!” I bought an LD original myself–wooden tags that read “Give Thanks,” which became part of of my Thanksgiving tablescape.

What Marcy enjoys most about Lemondrop Designs are the custom signs she creates for clients. She says: “I love when something I create for someone becomes part of their story. If there is a quote someone’s father said on the way out the door every morning, or their grandmother’s cookie recipe, or something they say to their children–these things mean something to my customers.”

Marcy continues: “More than once, I’ve been working on a design with someone and both of us end up in happy tears because it just hits the right mark. And it becomes a part of their home and of their lives and when they walk by it every day, it inspires them, helps them remember someone, or just reminds them to give their kids an extra kiss at bedtime.”

One of the most special custom orders Marcy created was for a client who was a cancer survivor. Marcy made a “Fight Like a Tiger” sign for the client, who had beaten breast cancer (and was also a Clemson alum, hence the “Tiger”). The client had just run the NY marathon, and she had Marcy craft “Been There, Run That” signs for the women she ran with, who had supported her during battle with cancer and while she trained for the run. To capture that love and camaraderie in signs they all can see on their walls every day is just priceless.

Marcy’s handiwork is not just limited to signs. She has personalized pencil holders for teachers, housewares, and even furniture. Recently she teamed up with another local business we adore—Hazel Mae Home—to personalize the cutest vintage roll-top desk you’ve ever seen. I look forward to seeing more from their partnership!

Lemondrop Designs is based right out of Cranford, and Marcy is still accepting custom orders for the holidays (although you should order before December 18 for Christmas-ready items!). Visit the Lemondrop Designs facebook page for more examples of Marcy’s work and contact info, or stop in the Urban SEWciety shop at 66 Elm Street, Suite 2, in Westfield, where you can purchase LD signs. You can also visit Marcy’s Etsy Shop via this link: Lemondrop Designs LLC Trust me. You want one!

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Some Local Shops in the Cranford/Westfield Area That Offer Gift Wrapping!

unknown_2I have a confession to make: I loathe wrapping gifts. Sure, I love the way a beautifully wrapped gift LOOKS, but I don’t have the motivation nor the Martha Stewart talents to make it happen. And don’t get me started on how much money I’ve spent on gift bags and tissue–the poor man’s wrapping! Needless to say, I really appreciate when stores offer FREE wrapping on your purchases, and I often make a point to shop at such stores for the gift wrap alone!

Here’s a list of some local shops that will pretty-up your purchases with custom gift wrapping or gift bags with tissue. They’ll save you time, money, and a perhaps few paper cuts. I know I will be the making the rounds this holiday season!

Periwinkle’s Fine Gifts

19 N. Union Ave., Cranford

Unique gifts, accessories, housewares, and greeting cards


19 Eastman St., Cranford

“Gifting with a conscience”–all items are fair trade or made in the USA

Augusta Mae

35 Alden St., Cranford

Fine consignment, jewelry, and accessories


11 N. Union Ave., Cranford

Art gallery, gifts, and expert framing

Cougar Headquarters

415 Centennial Ave, Cranford, NJ 07016
(908) 497-9900

Cranford’s Ultimate Spiritwear and custom t-shirt store.

Bittersweet Designs

212 Lenox Ave., Westfield

Accessories and gifts for any occasion

The Town Book Store

270 E. Broad St., Westfield

One of the last independent bookstores in Union County

Williams Sonoma

127 Central Ave., Westfield

Everything for your culinary and entertaining needs

Patricia & Paul 

20 Elm St., Westfield

Over 40 varieties of oils and vinegars, plus housewares, gifts, and specialty grocery items

J.Winthrop on Elm

33 Elm St., Westfield

Jewelry, accessories, clothing, and housewares

The Farmhouse Store

221 E. Broad St., Westfield

“Like no other store in Westfield”

Thinka Dinka

264 E. Broad St., Westfield

Children’s toys, books, and huge Lego selection

Learning Express

104 Quimby St., Westfield

Unique toys and FREE personalization

Gallery U Boutique

439 South Ave. W., Westfield

Art gallery and gift/accessories boutique

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Milk Money Cranford Offers High Quality Consignment

Milk Money CranfordMilk Money of Cranford has made quite a name for itself around town.  This high quality children’s consignment store stocks well-known brands c including Gap, Gymboree, Ralph Lauren, Hanna Anderson, Mini Boden and many more.  Milk Money is a franchise with half a dozen stores around the New Jersey area.

Margaret Sacco explains how she ended up owning and operating the Cranford franchise.  “I stumbled into Milk Money. A girlfriend of mine went to a baby shower and all of the moms were raving about how great Milk Money was. She went to the Cranford store to see about getting a franchise and was told the Cranford owners were selling. She asked me to partner with her since I had retail experience. But then she had to back out when she couldn’t afford to give up her job’s benefits, so I decided to do it alone.  I bought the store in 2009. It’s a franchise with 6 stores total, all owned/operated by moms who wanted to return to work, but in a job that allowed some flexibility (no nights or holidays, etc).”

Margaret lives in Westfield with her husband Henry and her teenage children, Hank and Grace.  She says, “I love Cranford because of its family friendly atmosphere and abundance of “Mom and Pop” shops. Chain stores just can’t give the level of customer service and welcoming feeling of a small independently owned business.  Even though I live in Westfield, I shop in the stores and dine in the restaurants in Cranford much more often than in Westfield.”

Milk Money Cranford

Margaret graduated Fordham University, worked as a store manager at a Walgreens in New York for a few years,  then went back to school to get an Interior Design degree at FIT. She worked in the field for a few years, but never really loved it. So when the Milk Money opportunity came along, it seemed like a perfect opportunity.  “I get all of the benefits of retail – personal interaction with customers, fun of merchandising, and a sense of accomplishment –  without the horrific hours of a retail drug store.      Because nearly everyone who shops here has a child or grandchild, I automatically have something in common with them, so it is easy to connect with people. We try to make our customers feel welcome and like they are part of our Milk Money community.  I especially love when people send pictures of their kids in an outfit, or playing with a toy, that they got here.”

Milk Money provides a play area for the kids to hang out while moms shop.   They sell high quality clothing that is in great condition in sizes from newborn – size 16, shoes, toys, strollers, an lots of other child items.     They post items regularly on Instagram (milkmoneycranford) and on .     But the best way to see what they have to offer is to stop into the store at 2 South Avenue West and see for yourself!

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Cranford NJ Community Farmer’s Market

What’s better than a lazy summer Sunday morning?  Adding a stroll through the Cranford Community Farmer’s Market!

11330005_870259049719511_4359428748600291009_nEvery Sunday from now through October, locals can take a walk through the parking lot of the train station on the South Avenue side, from 9:00 AM – 1:30 PM.  There is so much to see and enjoy!  The market is sponsored by the Cranford Community Connection organization, which also organized the hugely successful Winter Artisan Market held at the Community Center.

There is a huge variety of items from local farmers and vendors.  Of COURSE there’s farm fresh produce, but it certainly doesn’t end there! You can also find fresh eggs, cheeses, local honey, a wide assortment of nuts and dried fruits, locally made fresh pressed juices and organic specialties, pickles, olives and hummus, breads, fine oils and balsamics, fresh pastas and Italian specialties, Polish delicacies, and fresh baked pies.  Food vendors will also include El Lechon de Negron food truck, specializing in Puerto Rican pig roasts and cuisine,  Mozzerapas, offering their famous and delicious melted mozzarella on corn bread, and Lizzmonade, serving a variety of uniquely flavored soft drinks.

And each week you can find something new!  It’s one of the great joys of summer – fresh food items from the farm to you!  Stop by and stock up while summer is still in full swing!

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Beautiful Flowers at the Iconic Rekemeier’s Flower Shop in Cranford NJ







Rekemeir’s Flower Shop has been in its current location on North Ave., believe it or not,  since 1954. The 60+ year old business is currently run by Jack Rekemeier, the grandson of the original owner.   Jack joined the shop in 1971, and works with store manager  Stanley Lapinski, who has been with the company for 43 years.   Jack’s son is also a part of the business,  and manages the shop in  their Summit location.

Don’t think that what you’ll get here is anything like what you can  pick up at a local grocery store.  These people are lifelong experts!  Their arrangements are fresh and unique.  They do a number of weddings, events, and funerals, and even made arrangements for an event at the UN in NYC recently.   And the best part of being in business so long is that the shop has grown along with families.  Many of the weddings they service are for the children of parents whose weddings ALSO featured floral arrangements from Rekemeiers.  They are a much a part of Cranford as Cranford is a part of them.

Want to make a purchase for a special occasion . . . . or, better yet, for “nothing special” day?  Stop into the shop at 116 North Ave West, call (908) 276-4700, or visit the website at and conveniently order online and have the flowers delivered.


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Alluem Yoga in Cranford NJ Inspirational Chalk Messages

Alluem Yoga in Cranford NJ Inspirational Chalk Messages

Cranford is so lovely during the early morning hours.  It’s such a lovely, peaceful neighborhood to enjoy a morning walk or run through!  And many residents make sure their route includes a jaunt past The Mill, located at 347 Lincoln Avenue East in Cranford, so that they can also begin their day with an inspirational message and a smile to the heart.

It’s beautiful enough to walk past The Mill.  It’s a waterside, peaceful setting, with a lovely historical building.  But the spot is made even more special by the inspirational messages that can often be found written beautifully and colorfully in chalk to inspire all those who pass by.

Children’s Yoga Trainer Karen Gilmour explains, “This originally started when our owner, Gina Pachkowski, saw an inspirational mural that read “You Are Beautiful” on the side of an old brick building. Gina, who is one of the most inspirational humans I have ever met, is constantly giving from the heart…and knows that sometimes a kind word is the best way to give a little love where you least expect it. During the Alluem Kids Summer Camp that year, the kids and I ventured out to leave the same “You Are Beautiful” message outside The Mill so the passerbys could feel some love!”

And the idea just took off from there.  For many local residents, it’s become part of the weekend morning routine to “get the message” during morning walks, runs, or bike rides . . . . many of which are purposefully diverted past The mill just for the purpose of looking for the most recent inspiration.  Sometimes it’s in the form of a chalk message written across the water, sometimes it’s pictures and messages written on the sidewalk of Lincoln Avenue.  But no matter what form it takes, it brings a moment of thought and a smile to the day of anyone passing by.

The Off the Mat Kids Camp (ages 9-12), that has been running under Karen’s direction since 2012, is a camp to get kids thinking about how when they find peace in their bodies, minds and hearts through yoga, they are more able to share that peace with those around them  in their homes, schools, and communities. “This,” explains Karen, “is called taking our yoga “off the mat”. Yoga is more than just the poses – it’s about being inspired and inspiring others – it’s about loving ourselves so that we can better love others – it’s about letting go of what holds us back so we can continue to shine forth. What better way to share this peace, love and light through some inspirational art for all to see!”

The message “Embody Love” that was up recently was in honor of the 15 hour “Embody Love Movement Facilitator Training” lead by Dr. Melody Moore that was happening at the studio. The Embody Love Movement was born out of the inspiration from a group of a few young women in Texas who, together, found a passion for inspiring and empowering other girls and women to recognize their value and their potential. In collaboration with Dr. Melody Moore, they developed Embody Love Movement’s founding program: the Inner Beauty Shop for younger girls struggling with eating disorders, self-esteem issues, and depression. They have brought the Embody Love Movement to schools, camps, and organizations in Texas and now Dr. Moore is traveling and sharing this training with women across the country,  including  right here at Alluem. Expect to see more of these Inner Beauty Shops popping up in the studio, schools, camps, community centers and more!

Alluem truly offers something for everyone, with programs for every age and every skill level.  For more information on Alluem Yoga and the programs offered, visit their website at

Check out the video of the kids a few summers ago creating the “You Are Beautiful” message:

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Get Your New and Gently Used Sporting Goods at Green Sports NJ in Cranford NJ

Spring sports season is upon us, and that means parents are shelling out the big bucks for new baseball mitts, bats, lacrosse sticks, tennis rackets, etc. But you don’t have to take out a second mortgage to afford all that equipment — just do some of your shopping at Green Sports NJ in downtown Cranford!

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Green Sports NJ sells new and gently used sporting goods as well as new apparel for up to 75 percent off retail prices. Baseball, softball, soccer, hockey, lacrosse, tennis, golf . . . it’s all represented with a wide array of equipment in the shop. The inventory changes daily and is donated by local companies and individuals. Green Sports NJ will only sell merchandise that is in sellable condition; any donations they receive that are not in sellable condition get donated to charitable organizations.

Green Sports NJ itself is nonprofit, created by the Arc of Union County to train and employ individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in every aspect of the retail business. The goal is to provide these individuals with the skills they need to obtain other jobs in the community as well. Any used product that you purchase at Green Sports NJ was thoroughly cleaned and refurbished (using eco-friendly products) by employees with disabilities.

image2If you have any questions about the equipment your kids need this spring, manager Jim Wallace is in the shop every day it’s open to provide you with guidance. Jim, who started working at Green Sports NJ this past August, is a retired Special Education teacher who played and coached sports his whole life. “Working here has been the perfect marriage of my interests,” he says.

Green Sports NJ is located at 100 North Union Ave in Cranford.

The store is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm. Visit their website to learn how you can donate gently used equipment, or learn about volunteer opportunities:

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Fire Me Up Studio in Cranford offers Couples Canvas Night 2/12/15


Canvas Couples Night at Fire Me Up Studio


Fire Me Up!There’s a whole lot of pressure to go on the “perfect date” for Valentine’s Day.  But what IS that?  Dinner?  A movie?  It’s all been done.

How about his for a creative and truly fun Valentine season’s date?  You and your date can head to Fire me Up Studio, at 117 N. Union Avenue in Cranford, on Thursday, February 12th, from 7:00 – 10:00 PM.  Bring a bottle of wine to share, and get ready for some quality together time.  Have a few laughs, and make a two great paintings, and SKIP the pressures of February 14th!

$79 per couple buys two 16×20 canvas paintings, instruction, light snacks and the unique and fun date of a lifetime.   You get to bring home your paintings, your date, and some memories to last a lifetime.  Valentine’s Day WIN!!!!


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