Shop Local, NJ! Downtown South Orange

by Alice Magdziak • December 12, 2014 • Essex, ShoppingComments (0)3325

Buying products with a story behind them. We hear that a lot when we talk to store owners and we heard the stories behind many of the products we found in South Orange’s vibrant downtown. 

Kitchen a la Mode is a toy store for adults who like to cook and the people who are shopping for them. It’s one of those stores that is so chock full of great merchandise that you can return again and again and never see the same store each time.  The sales staff are extremely friendly and can even help you pick something out for the gourmet on your list.


Who wouldn’t like a tea towel with lots of historical facts about different states?  Of course, we love the New Jersey one.  In fact we have it at our house already!


These food slabs can be used as trivets but also can be heated or cooled to use for food presentation.  An interesting fact about them is that they came from farms in the United States and are normally a pain for farmers who keep finding them all over their fields.  Now, they harvest the rocks and American Stonecraft cuts and polishes them for sale.  Each slab is marked on the back to note what farm they came from.  That’s about as local as you can get!


The bags behind the orange plate are made right here in New Jersey and they are Snackaby reusable food storage bags.  Just turn them inside out and you can wash them in the dishwasher.  Neat!


Owner Ben Salmon loves to talk about his products because he puts so much love into choosing them for the store.  We had a really great conversation about what makes local and independent businesses so important.  We would never have this conversation with the owner of a giant corporation.  Ben is the kind of person that makes us love shopping local!


Along with having beautiful gifts of apparel, jewelry and home decor, Kimaya Kama has a very special offer going this holiday season.  For every scarf purchased at Kimaya Kama, they donate a scarf to cancer patients at the Saint Barnabas Medical Center.  Check someone off your list and make someone going through a scary period of their life feel pretty.  That’s a win, win!


One of the things we especially love about local shopping is the friendly and very helpful sales staff who are always willing to help you choose a pattern or decide between several items.


We bought some jewelry here because it was so vibrant.  The pieces are also very well priced.


Gorgeous blouses in a rainbow of colors would make any woman happy!


The Custom Leather Shop (973.762.7257) and Rafael & Co. are two shops in one storefront. Rafael & Co. makes handmade shoes and the Custom Leather Shop does leather repair.  Give the gift of new life to your wife’s favorite purse or your brother’s favorite shoes!


The shop is the official atelier of the Metropolitan Opera, too!  They make all the belts and shoes for those great costumes.  They must be doing something right to have that honor.  They’ve been in business for 29 years and they’ve been working with the Met the whole time.

They must have been practicing making different shades of shoes for the Met when they made this rack.  Just about any leather can be dyed in almost any color.  Look how good this rack of loafers look.


Just about anything can be made right in the store.  Who needs matching flats and cowboy boots?


These are the most amazing things they showed us.  They will take a pair of Converse which you bring in and replace the uppers with the leather of your choice.  These alligator shoes were so gorgeous!


CMB Kicks is next door to the leather shops and they focus on the latest and greatest sneakers.  We’ve driven by here a few times and seen lines out the door and down the street when a special new shoe comes out.


They have a huge selection of performance and casual shoes from Air Jordan, Nike and Reebok among others.


They also have hats, jackets and skateboard decks.


What teen or young adult wouldn’t love a gift certificate from here to get exactly what they want?  Check out their Instagram account, too, because they announce what they have coming in all the time.


Spark House is a cool toy store that specializes in creative toys and books to spark children’s imaginations.  How neat is that?


South Orange Pharmacy has many small gifts for those people who just need a little something. Plus, who doesn’t like to poke around in a pharmacy for a few minutes?  Maybe get something for yourself!


A New Jersey 350 Pop-Up Store is going to be open in South Orange through December 14th.  Haven’t been to one yet?  They’re really cool!  350th-branded merchandise, books from Rutgers University Press on New Jersey history, figures, and politics, as well as merchandise from local merchants and artisans will be on sale. It will also feature merchandise from the New Jersey State Museum Store such as the “Jerseyopoly” board game and the children’s book “Goodnight, Jersey”, as well as specialty items from the Island of Jersey (from which New Jersey received its name 350 years ago). The store will be open 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. December 12 and 14 and 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday December 13.


The Wellness Lounge has many different classes, workshops and alternative therapy treatments that you can buy for someone.  They also sell eco-friendly products and make gift baskets.


Ashley Marketplace and Cafe will make you amazing gift baskets from their wide variety of packaged goodies.


Desserts, meats, cheeses and snacks can all be put together in a great gift for teachers, doctors, assistants or as hostess gifts.


South Orange Avenue and it’s intersecting streets are filled with great shops to check off lots of gifts on your holiday list.  There are also plenty of coffee shops and restaurants to make a day of your visit. So, what are you waiting for?  Get on over to South Orange and start shopping local!

Check out all the pictures from our shopping trip to South Orange:

Now get out there and Shop Local, NJ!


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