Tag Archives: shops

Blende

Custom Beauty Right Around the Corner

BlendeTwo Westfield mothers and professional makeup artists, Kiera Karlin and her business partner Nikki Tardibuono, celebrated their grand opening of Blende on May 2. Keira has made quite a name for herself in the celebrity makeup world. For over 25 years she has been using custom blending with some of the hottest celebs on set for popular TV shows and movies. Nikki is equally known in the industry and is a licensed esthetician certified in cutting edge techniques that bring a unique draw to the business.

What’s funny is that Keira and Nikki met as mothers in the Westfield school system when their children were little. For the longest time, they didn’t even know the other was a makeup artist! Once they established that connection they set out to open a custom blende makeup studio because they craved a home base. 

Kiera said, “It was just sort of a natural progression…I wanted to bring it home. I wanted to make it available for everybody – not just celebrities. We started talking and both wanted to have it in Westfield- we just love this town. This location just fell in our laps! We have the exact same tastes, the exact same aesthetics, we put out the same image – it just works!”

 

Why will you crave their products? The highest quality of ingredients goes into all of their products. Everything is paraban-free and vegetable and mineral based. Whatever you desire is custom-made to your liking from foundation, concealers, primers, highlighters, eyeliners, lipsticks, and glosses. 

“Everything can be tweaked and tuned to take care of any issue that anyone has – specific to them – no more hit-or-miss makeup purchases!” Kiera said. Whether you have under-eye circles, acne, fine lines–your makeup can be made with ingredients that help to correct these common issues. They take into consideration your entire profile when designing your custom makeup – eye color, skin type, hair color, coverage needs, everything! Did I mention the studio is equipped with the SAME makeup lighting found in the Hollywood trailers?  If you look amazing in the store, you look amazing everywhere!

 

Blende beauty care starts with the teenage years. While the rage right now may be heavy makeup, these women stress that “less is more” for teen beauty. The key is to “enhance” their natural beauty and learn how to conceal issues they may have with “as little makeup as possible.” Under eye circles and acne can be treated with tea tree oil or other natural compounds mixed into the makeup. Keira stated, “Teach them early that they are beautiful the way they are!” 

As for us “women in our prime” who may be seeing a few wrinkles and lines creeping in and may wonder where to start, Nikki says, “Everyone should start with skin care. Start with a canvas that is right and that will help your makeup look better!” Blende carries an amazing Swiss skin care line called Luzern Skin Care and they will guide you to the best product for your current skin care situation. These ladies can teach new moms how to “get out of the house in 10 minutes with a face that looks fresh” and provide “over 60+ women with skin care products and makeup that can take years off!” 

 

In addition to the custom blende makeup services, Nikki has a multitude of unique services. She offers “microblading,” which is a new form of tattoo artistry where eyebrows are created with a handheld tool that produces fine hair strokes that appear as actual hairs. This is “great for fill-ins and women who need whole brow reconstruction”, stated Nikki. There’s also a new method to “eyelash line enhancement” that produces thicker lashes. The pigment is deposited directly in between the lashes and not drawn on as an eyeliner. Nikki commented that this gives the “look of fuller and darker eyelashes” and is perfect for women with lighter skin and hair color. 

What excited me is a new procedure called “Dermaplaning.” With a blade held at a 45-degree angle, Nikki removes the outermost layer of dead skin cells and fine hairs, and the end result is a “beautiful canvas for makeup.” She recommends this procedure for anyone experiencing acne, blackheads, fine lines, and wrinkles. This procedure may be desired more than those at the dermatologist because it’s all done by hand–no machines, more precision, and no downtime!

 

Finally, their parties sound so fun – I want to book one for this weekend!

 

SIP AND BLENDE PARTY:  take over their store, BYO cocktails, play your fav songs and choose a custom blende product to be designed for each of your BFFs!

 

MAKEUP LESSONS PARTY: using a mirror and a set of their vegan brushes their makeup artist does half of your face and then you try to match the other half using the techniques you were taught during this amazing group lesson. Perfect for Sweet 16, birthday parties, and Ladies Night!

 

GLAM AND GO PARTY: the store is closed for you and your closest friends while you sip cocktails, listen to music, and snack on apps. Everyone gets a personal makeup artist creating their custom look before you all hit the town! Perfect for girls’ night out and bridal parties!

 

I know what you may be thinking right now…gleaming storefront, custom makeup, cutting-edge services…all of this has to cost a fortune, right? You’d be surprised that the answer is shockingly the opposite. How many times have you shopped at a major beauty supply store and just DUMPED products into your basket knowing that half of it probably wouldn’t work? Usually half wasn’t the correct color and it couldn’t be returned. Tons of dollars just wasted! Ladies, think of Blende as an investment that won’t break the bank. Their foundation is $50, lipstick $32, and mineral eye shadow $24. Very comparable to the other major makeup lines and it’s all made for YOU! Visit their studio at 106 Elm Street or go online to BlendeBeauty.com to schedule online.

 

These women have created the answer to a makeup issue we have all been facing since our teenage years! I’m very excited to walk back through those doors, where it’s like a grown-up candy store – I’m not sure where to start!

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Kick Glass Art Studio in Cranford NJ

Our theme of women-owned businesses continues with the latest artsy addition to Cranford: KICK GLASS ART STUDIO. (Seriously, how great is that name?!)

Kick Glass Art StudioDonna Slevin and Sheila Hughes are co-owners of Kick Glass and have been lifelong friends, having grown up together in Westfield. Donna has an impressive 30 years of experience as a stained glass artist and 10 years working with fused glass. Sheila has trained with Donna in creating both stained glass and fused glass, and with Sheila’s 20 years’ experience in business, these two combine the best of both artistic and business minds.

Located at 536 South Ave East, Kick Glass offers classes in stained glass from beginner to expert, for ages 18 and up. “We have classes in fused (warm) glass from beginner to the tapestry technique. We have had private parties for Girls’ Night Out and Westfield Single Moms. And we offer business bonding opportunities! The studio is very large so people can bring their own food and drinks.”

You’d be amazed at the different types of works you can create with glass at Kick Glass. Donna said, “We offer a variety of ways for you to explore your artist talent using the glass medium. You can create bowls or paint using ground up glass. Our classes are educational. We want you to learn how to master the techniques used in both fused (warm) glass and stained glass.” Besides group classes, Kick Glass offers open studio time for more seasoned glass artists, as well as private one-on-one lessons. 

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I’m passionate about the restoration of historic homes, and Donna shares that passion when it comes to stained glass, which was featured prominently in many older homes. She said, “Stained glass is a centuries-old art form, and I want to make sure it lives on. When walking around the streets, we see many houses with older stained glass windows that could use a little TLC to help restore them to their former glory. We also want to encourage people to add a unique stained glass piece to their own homes.”

Follow Kick Glass on Facebook or visit their website to keep up to date on their upcoming classes and events: http://kickglassart.com. And don’t miss their official ribbon cutting with the mayor of Cranford on March 21st! 

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What Are “Ono Bowls”? They Are DELICIOUS!! And They Are In Westfield!

I don’t know about you, but I’m LOVING all the healthy choices you can find in Cranford and Westfield eateries nowadays. With my busy work schedule, I often grab meals on the run, and it’s a bonus if I can eat healthfully while still enjoying the convenience of quick meals. Ono Bowls recently opened in Downtown Westfield, and it has become a favorite spot for a fast but healthy and yummy meal! 

Tricia Caminos launched Ono Bowls this past November, but she’d been enjoying smoothie bowls for many years beforehand! A Cranford resident who’s been juicing since she was 19, Tricia is married to a native Hawaiian, who introduced her to the juicing trends of Hawaii. Tricia said, “I was eating smoothie bowls for 10 years. They became popular in Hawaii and California, and are only just becoming a thing on the East Coast. ‘Ono’ means ‘delicious’ in Hawaiian!” 

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Ono Bowls is located at 107 Quimby Street, next to the forthcoming Salad House. The menu has raw juices and smoothies typical of a juice bar, but the ono bowls are truly what set it apart. Each ono bowl consists of a thick smoothie base (often made with acai or pitaya for added heath benefits), topped with granola, fresh fruit, honey, and other delightful toppings. I sampled the PB&J ono bowl while I was there, and it was super tasty and filling. Tricia uses organic and locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.

Something I loved about Ono Bowls besides the great menu is the atmosphere! There’s a large room in the back with plenty of comfy seats for lounging, a table where you can enjoy your ono bowl while getting some work done, and even cute coloring books and such strewn about for kids (and kids-at-heart)! It has a definite “chill” California vibe that is such a welcome addition to Westfield. 

I was thrilled to hear that Ono Bowls has been super busy since day one of opening! Tricia said, “All the kids come in after school throughout the week. We’ve even hosted parties here for Girl Scouts and other groups. We’re looking into offering catering services in the future.” 

You might spot some of Tricia’s family members working in Ono Bowls–two of her three kids work there part time! I love supporting local businesses that are a family affair. 

Ono Bowls is open Monday through Saturday from 9-6, Sunday from 10-5. Look for expanded hours in the spring. You can follow Ono Bowls on Instagram @ono_bowls and visit their website http://www.onobowls.net/index.html to view their full menu.  

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Le Petit Temptation? More Like GINORMOUS Temptation!! Cranford’s French Pastry Shop is Pure Heaven!

Le Petit Temptation

Over the past several years Downtown Cranford has become one of New Jersey’s premier gastronomical destinations, with its wide array of top-rated eateries. Adding to the mix is the recently opened Le Petit Temptation, a fabulous French pastry shop that is like no other in our area!

Before opening a brick-and-mortar location in Cranford, Le Petit Temptation was primarily a wholesale business with weekend participation in local farmers markets. According to owner and pastry chef extraordinaire Jessie Dardar: “The response from the local farmers markets was overwhelmingly positive, and through engaging with my customers, I realized that there was a demand for my products on a regular basis as the feedback indicated a great desire for something different.”

Le Petit TemptationJessie was originally scoping out Westfield as the location for his shop, but he said, “A friend who knew of my plans and is also a Cranford resident gave me the grand tour of the town and introduced me to several local business owners. I then had the great opportunity to meet the fantastic and supportive team at the Downtown Business & Economic Development Office and I was quickly convinced that Cranford was the place for me.” I truly love hearing how welcoming Cranford is to small-business owners!

You don’t need to go to Paris to taste authentic French pastries–having lived in and worked as a chef in France for 12 years, Jessie has brought the signature French style of pastry-making right to our little hamlet of Cranford.

Now, we all know there are several bakeries in the Cranford-Westfield area, but I promise you, Le Petit Temptation is delightfully different. According to Jessie: “Our concept is to change the perception in the way dessert should be prepared. There is no valid argument why a dessert has to be large, sugary or even heavy, more often is the case that those are considered three no- no’s in one single serving. Moreover, this combination is not really enjoyable because it leaves us feeling weighed down and then the sugar kicks in.”

Jessie went on, “A dessert is meant to be a special ending of some sort, whether it is the finish to a meal or shared with family or friends. Desserts should awaken our senses and fill us with emotions; they should always be light, fresh and most importantly not overly sugary. That’s what we trying to accomplish with our pastries. We don’t have a set menu. We do things in small batches and when we run out . . . it is out.” 

Jessie is known for his stellar macarons. If you haven’t tried these cookies yet, I demand you give them a try. Made from almond meal and egg whites, macarons are a classic French meringue sandwich cookie with a unique texture and taste, and limitless flavor combinations. I can’t get enough of ’em! Besides the macarons, Jessie said that his desserts featuring coconut have been bestsellers, along with his mango/passion fruit tart.

The cafe will soon be offering much more than desserts. Gourmet coffee will be on the menu, and Jessie said, “We are going to start doing light lunches, vegetarian salads, and quiches. Sometime in August, we are going to start featuring pop-up dinners two or three times a month, which will be a set menu consisting of five to seven dishes, and it will be whatever inspires me. Since our place is rather small with only 10 to 12 chairs, reservations will be a must.”

Le Petit Temptation offers catering services as well, so if you want to knock the socks off your guests at your next fête, give them a call: (201) 377-5919.

You can find Le Petit Temptation in the space formerly occupied by Artemisia, at 19 Eastman Street in Cranford. Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 9 am to 9 pm, but follow them on Facebook for updates on their hours once the coffee equipment is up and running!

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Local Business Owner’s Father is Laid To Rest at Arlington National Cemetery

Flags

Having grown up with a father who bravely fought in the Korean Conflict, I have a deep appreciation for U.S. soldiers and their families. A local Cranford business owner was equally proud of his late father, who received a Purple Heart for his service in the military, and was able to secure a funeral for him in the famed Arlington National Cemetery. It seems fitting to share his experience with you as we approach Independence Day. 

Shaun Vanclief is the owner of one of Downtown Cranford’s best-loved boutiques: Atlantic Beach Soap Company. Shaun’s father passed away in 1997, and his mother followed in 2001, and both were cremated. Sean’s father had fought in the Battle of Normandy and received several accolades for his invaluable service. About two years ago, Shaun contacted Arlington National, where it’s a notoriously long process to arrange for funerals. Shaun said, “As luck would have it, they were just breaking ground for new mausoleums. I told them about my father, and asked if my mother could be interred with him, and they were very receptive to it.”

For those who don’t know, Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia has been the burial grounds for former U.S. soldiers and widows of servicemen since the Civil War. There are currently more than 400,000 graves there. 

On June 6th of this year, Shaun had one of the most moving experiences of his life when his parents were laid to rest together at Arlington. I asked Shaun to describe the ceremony for me: “It was like a dance; I can’t explain it any other way. The whole experience was so fined-tuned and incredible, like a choreography. Right from the beginning with the chaplain down to the Arlington Ladies, whom I had never heard of before. I’m 58 years old, and I read a lot about American History, but I never knew the extent of service at Arlington National.” 

Shaun painted me picture of the scene at the interment. “Honor guards were stationed around us. My parents’ ashes were placed on a podium. I had supplied a flag, and they conducted a ceremony where they unfolded the flag over the remains while the chaplain gave a eulogy. A traditional 21-gun salute followed, and then ‘Taps’ played. They folded the flag back up, and one of the honor guards came to me with the flag, and consoled me. As soon as he backed away, one of the Arlington Ladies handed me a handwritten note of condolence.” 

Founded in 1948, the Arlington Ladies are a group of volunteers who all were either past servicewomen or who have lost a loved one at war. Their mission is to make sure that no one is buried alone. An Arlington Lady attends EVERY SINGLE FUNERAL at Arlington National Cemetery. And at the end of each funeral, one of the Ladies gives the next of kin a handwritten note. It is just such a lovely tradition. 

Shaun was so touched by the Arlington Ladies that he’s decided to launch a special soap for his shop, the sales of which will benefit the Arlington Ladies organization. Currently he’s waiting on approval to use their logo on the soap, and as soon as that permission is granted, he’ll launch it to the public. 

If you’ve never been to Atlantic Beach Soap Company, or it’s been a while since your last visit, definitely make a point to head over there this summer! Besides Shaun’s amazing-smelling handmade soaps and body products (I die for his coconut scent), he’s expanded the inventory into eclectic home goods and repurposed antiques. He also currently has three local artists, including Cynthia Dawley, who display their work in the store. And according to Shaun, “If I sell anything that is imported, it absolutely has to be fair trade.”

Be on the lookout for Sean’s new soap in the coming months! You can find Atlantic Beach Soap Company at 102 North Union Ave. in Cranford. Summer hours: Tuesday-Wednesday 11am to 6pm; Thursday-Friday 11am to 8pm; Saturday 11am to 6pm.

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The Transformation of Cranford’s Rockn’ Joe’s Coffee Shop!

A favorite local coffee shop is getting a makeover from top to bottom, inside and out! The former Rockn’ Joe Cranford is evolving into a coffeehouse with a brand new name, a cool new look, and some awesome new java. 

Rockn' JoeCranford’s Rockn’ Joe was the flagship location of the Rockn’ Joe franchise, founded by Kevin Brennan. Two years ago, Kevin sold the franchise and has slowly phased out of the business in order to become an independent coffee shop. The iconic rock-and-roll music paraphernalia that used to line the walls of Rockn’ Joe is all gone now. Over the next few months, the space will be transformed and won’t look a thing like its predecessor. 

Kevin said, “The renovations hopefully should be complete in July. It’s going to be amazing, very Brooklyn-esque with an industrial vibe. We’re more than tripling the space from 18 seats to 60 seats.” Sounds like a fabulous addition to Downtown Cranford, right?!

Currently the business is operating under the temporary name Coffee Works. But Kevin says that is NOT the final name–stay tuned for the real name once all the legal elements are in place. 

I asked Kevin why he decided to sell Rockn’ Joe and start anew. He replied, “My whole purpose is to be more coffee-focused, to sell an excellent coffee first and foremost.” That’s good news for us coffee lovers! And according to Kevin, the expansion will allow him to offer coffee drinks that Rockn’ Joe was never able to make before in the limited space, like Nitro Cold Brew coffee, an iced coffee that comes out of a beer-like tap, frothy and smooth (yum).  

Rockn' Joe

You’ll still see the same friendly faces from the Rockn’ Joe staff who’ve come to know your name. And “Coffee Works” is open during renovation–they have not missed a beat, no pun intended–so you can keep getting those lovely lattes and sweet treats until Kevin’s dream coffeehouse is complete. 

Stay tuned for photos of the completed interior and the unveiling of their new menu! 

“Coffee Works” is located at 5 Eastman Street in Cranford. Remember to utilize the free 10-minute parking selection at the parking meters when you get your coffee!

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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 http://anthemstylegift.com/.

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Grilled Cheese Shoppe Opening Celebration TODAY in Westfield NJ 5/3/16

IMG_5763People often use the phrase “It’s as American an apple pie.” But I think we should start saying “It’s as American as GRILLED CHEESE!” Because who the heck doesn’t love grilled cheese?! The folks at the soon-to-be-open Grilled Cheese Shoppe in Downtown Westfield know just how much we all looooove grilled cheese, and they have one for every taste under the sun!

Owner Nick Louros hails from North Jersey, where he grew up amid the restaurant business. “I was a typical Greek diner kid, spending countless hours in my uncles’ diners, and working at one through college.” Nick got his degree in accounting, and he worked in that field five years, but eventually he wanted a change.

Nick began scouting locations for a restaurant, and had considered Ridgewood, but Westfield just “checked off everything on our list,” and with the closing of Robert Treat Restaurant, Nick found the perfect location.

When I asked Nick why he chose to start a business around grilled cheese, he said, “What I really wanted was to serve family comfort food, something that was a staple in most people’s childhoods. Something simple but still gourmet at the same time, with different flavor profiles. And something that would bring families together.”

Grilled cheese is the perfect meal to embrace what Nick was searching for–at its core it’s one of the most simple sandwiches, but it can also be embellished and changed into something extraordinary.

IMG_5762Nick himself created most of the recipes for the Grilled Cheese Shoppe. What’s on the menu, you ask? Well, you can always order a basic grilled cheese (aka the “Cheesy Kid”–good for those pick eaters out there), which is American cheese served on thick sourdough bread. But also on the menu are fried chicken and waffles, 6 different bread selections, several different varieties of cheese, and even grilled dessert waffles. Some of the sandwich names include “Buffalo Blue,” “Green Envy,” and “French Onion.” In addition to the savory and sweet grilled cheese sandwiches, there will be soups, salads, gourmet coffee drinks, and of course hand-spun MILK SHAKES, including one called the “Peanut Butter Dream.”

Are you salivating yet??

The interior of the Shoppe is sleek and fresh and totally hip. It was designed by well-known Vanessa De Leon Associates to appeal to the young and young-at-heart, and Nick hopes the place will quickly become “the town hangout.”

Here’s another great thing about the Shoppe–it will be open 7 days a week! There aren’t too many eateries you can say that about. I, for one, am looking forward to their “Cheesy Brunch” on Sundays.

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Follow the Grilled Cheese Shoppe on facebook for updates about their grand opening celebration happening TODAY! The Shoppe is located at 113 Quimby Street.

Hours:

Monday-Thursday 11-8

Friday 11-9

Saturday 9-9

Sunday 9-4:30

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Jay’s Cycle Center in Downtown Westfield, NJ

 Jay's Cycle Center

There’s one thing all businesses that have stood the test of time seem to have in common, and that’s INTEGRITY. Jay’s Cycle Center in Downtown Westfield is a shining example of a business that radiates integrity, which is one of the reasons it has been a thriving local business for more than 50 years!

Owner Jay Tintle is the second generation of Jay’s. Did you know that the business first started as a pet and hobby shop run by Jay’s mother in Scotch Plains? At the time Jay’s father “Big Jay” was driving a cab, but he was extremely mechanically inclined and noticed that a few bike accessories that they carried in the shop were selling quite well. Eventually Jay’s parents saved money and bought some bicycles, put a work bench in the shop, and according to Jay “slowly started pushing pets out and bringing bikes in.” The rest is history! At one point the Tintles had several bikes shops in the area, but by the 1960s they decided to focus on just one store in Westfield.

Jay’s moved to its current location in 1984, and last year they did some renovations to spruce up the place. Boy, does it look sharp inside and out! When you walk in you’ll see rows and rows of every type of bicycle, from children’s bikes to beach cruisers to mountain bikes and electric bikes. Jay said, “We have the largest inventory of bicycles in the area–besides what you see in the store, we have 300 built bikes off-site as well.” There is also a great selection of gear for bikers, from shoes to clothes to helmets . . . heck, even energy snacks!

Toward the back of the shop is Jay’s service center, where bikes that need it get TLC from the expert staff. Jay said, “We really pride ourselves on the team that we have here. I couldn’t even tally up the years of experience among our staff. Whether it’s working on an electronic-shifting bike, rebuilding shock for a mountain bike, or simply changing a flat tire, we can take care of anything. And we’re always happy to educate our consumers on how do to things like check air pressure, change their own tires, etc.”

Jay's Cycle Center

When I asked Jay what makes his business a standout in our community, he used that very word integrity. Jay said, “You can send your ten-year old son here alone and be confident that he won’t be taken advantage of, he’ll be treated with respect.” That is music to any parent’s ears, as I can attest!

Jay continued, “We try to cater to anyone who walks through our door and give them a positive, fun experience. You’ll always be greeted with a hello, maybe with some friendly sarcasm, and then we’ll get down to business without being intimidating. Whether you’re a seasoned racer or a family looking for a baby bike seat, we treat every customer with a great deal of respect.”

With the weather having turned beautiful, it’s the perfect time to get a tune-up for your bike, or maybe even treat yourself to a new one (I noticed some great sale prices on beautiful bikes while I was in there!). Whatever your reason for going to into Jay’s, you won’t be disappointed by the selection, the service, and that ever-present integrity.

Jay’s is located at 227 North Ave East in Westfield with FREE PARKING and is conveniently open seven days a week. Visit their website at http://jayscyclecenter.com/ for hours and information, as well as online shopping!

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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: www.giftthebest.com.

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