In 2011, we visited Asbury Park’s Cookman Avenue for our Shop Local, NJ! series. It was a great day of shopping at independent stores at the Monmouth County shore town. Three years later things are changing so much in Asbury Park’s downtown that we felt it was time to return to check out some new stores and revisit some favorites.
I can remember visiting Asbury Park in the late 90s and early 2000’s and trying to imagine how great it could be. By the time we first covered the downtown shopping in 2011 we thought it was already pretty wonderful. Just three years later, it’s even better than we could have imagined.
We headed to Asbury for Small Business Saturday and started out at Russo’s Music Center on Lake Avenue.
We could have easily spent hours in here just browsing all the instruments and accessories. If you have someone musical on your holiday gift list, you will find something for them here. There are literally walls and walls of guitars both electric and acoustic in every variety. We even spotted some mandolins and banjos. Have a drummer in the family? They also have a full selection of drumsticks, cymbals and other drumming accessories.
The sales staff are all really helpful and friendly here so even if you don’t know what to get someone I’m sure they’d help you sort through their amazing selection.
They’re located in the Lakehouse building which houses a lot of really cool businesses like Bands on a Budget and The Lakehouse Music Academy. A new instrument and a gift of lessons from Lakehouse Music Academy would make anyone happy! Asbury Park is such a musical city that a gift from Russo music makes perfect sense.
After Russo’s, we walked over to Shelter Home, a store that we try to visit every time we’re in Asbury Park we like it so much.
They have so many items that would make great gifts that you really need to pay attention to each shelf. The whole store is packed with useful household products that are beautifully modern. You can find lots of Jonathan Adler pottery, Alessi kitchenware, Areaware and really cool holiday items also by Alessi. Since we wrote about them in 2011, they’ve even added a second floor showroom of Gus* Modern furniture that we’ve been eying ever since they opened it up.
Some of their Tillie pillows would look terrific on a new modern couch. If you love Tillie, the face of Asbury Park, you can find something you’ll love here, too. These pillows were in the store when we first covered Asbury Park in 2011 but they still have lots of Tillie products in 2014.
You can also find great stuff for kids here. Uglydolls, plush animals and many varieties of small toys are available.
Did I mention that they have two adorable store poodles? Lucia (standing) and Diego have been there every time we’ve stopped in and are quite friendly. Owners Scott and Gene are very welcoming and are happy to suggest gifts for anyone on your list. Shelter Home also has a branch on the boardwalk in the Grand Arcade.
From Shelter Home, we stopped in lots of the stores along Cookman Avenue that have great merchandise that would make awesome gifts.
House of Modern Living is just two doors down from Shelter Home. They have vintage items from between 1920 and 1980 and have a lot of interesting items for sale.
Next, we walked to the Shoppes at the Arcade, also known as the Antique Emporium of Asbury Park.
Inside the Arcade, there are many stores with a variety of products. Some are vintage like Junks Not Junk and Flying Saucers which both have mid-century modern pieces. Junks Not Junk has furniture and decorative items and Flying Saucers specializes in vintage kitchenware.
Groovy Graveyard has lots of comics, LPs and other collectibles.
Eyes of the World has fair trade products from all over the world. We wished we could take some pictures of their products to show you but they had a sign up as we entered the door that asked for no pictures to be taken. So, just trust us that there’s a lot of neat gift items in there for fair trade minded people.
Just down Cookman from the Shoppes at the Arcade, Words bookstore has a curated selection of new and used books to choose from. If you’re intimidated by giant bookstores with too many choices, this might be the place for you.
Foolish Ginger has a lot of cute women’s and children’s gifts to check out.
Nita Ideas is a large store filled with gorgeous women’s clothing and accessories. They do custom clothing, too, if there’s someone special on your gift list who needs a really special outfit!
Holdfast Records has records, rock t-shirts and a lot more in their shop.
fs20 is a fascinating store with industrial style furnishings, decorative pieces and much much more. This is one of those stores that we could spend a LOT of time in just looking at every nook and cranny and finding lots of treasures.
etc is near fs20 and has cool home accessories and menswear.
Farther down Cookman toward the beach, we found a store that makes wonderful hand blown glass items from sand. Hot Sand is a glass art studio where you can find beautiful glass art as well as take a glass-blowing class. They have workshops where you can learn in depth about glass blowing as well as just walk into the store and make your own glass item. Talk about cool. They also do private parties which sounds super fun to me!
They have glass products all over the front of the store for sale. Look at these gorgeous fish!
And, who wouldn’t like these cute snowmen and polar bears as a gift?
They even have Asbury Park paper weights which we thought would look great on any desk.
There are many other stores in downtown Asbury Park to explore along Bangs Avenue. Here are a few.
Robert Legere Home is a retail store connected to Robert Legere Design studio. You could have the most gorgeous holiday decorations in town if you shopped here for your own home. Or, you could give everyone a very special item for each of their homes. They’ve got art, rugs, furniture, holiday decor… simply anything you could want as a hostess gift.
The Dawg Joint has gifts for those doggies on your list who Santa says weren’t too naughty this year. They even do grooming and have doggie day care.
Glide Surf Company has surf boards, wet suits and anything else an aspiring or experienced surfer might want. It’s an adorable little store and it’s even fun just to window shop. Definitely check this store out for the beach bums on your holiday list.
If all of the awesome stores aren’t enough to entice you Asbury Park also has a special promotional pack of cards that offer discounts. It’s called the Asbury Park Shuffle and the cards are available at the participating stores. Shelter Home, Words Bookstore, ETC…, Flying Saucers, Junks Not Junk, Hot Sand and The Dawg Joint among others are offering savings. On December 7th and 14th, you can save at the stores and you are automatically entered into a drawing to win great gifts from Asbury Park merchants. We even asked about using the cards on different days and were able to use some early.
Here are all the pictures from our visit to downtown Asbury Park:
Now get out there and Shop Local, NJ!
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