Just this past couple of weeks, I had the opportunity to shop locally five times. I live in a place rich with small and local shopping venues and I wanted to mention some of them.
First of all, anyone who loves history, is no doubt, also hopeful and supportive of keeping our small towns alive. We have all seen the strangulation of small town shops by shopping malls and super cheap places like Wal-Mart and I'm not saying that we should not shop in malls or at Wal-Mart, certainly there are good reasons for going to all those places and I do. I shop at Boscovs and Target and many other big stores,
However, that said, there are opportunities to support small family owned businesses as well, and keeping our minds and eyes open to that is a good way to support keeping our small towns viable.
My favorite immediate go-to hardware store is and always has been 1.Carr's Hardware on Broadway in Gloucester City. They not only have everything I'm looking for in my, admittedly amateur repair efforts, they also have advice and they will order what you need if they don't have it. In addition, they will recommend workmen who can do those things beyond my ability. They are a very nice family and it is a pleasure to shop there and visit with them.
Once, a year ago, I had something wrong with my car. It stalled in the middle of driving, at red lights, under an assortment of situations that made it dangerous and mind-boggling. I took it to my former mechanic, to the Ford Dealer, and finally, my daughter was so worried she got in touch with a mechanic friend with whom she had gone to high school. He was partner in what was then a new shop. I took it to them and they resolved the situation immediately and at half the cost of one garage, and one third the cost of my fruitless visit to the Ford dealer. 2.Innovative Automotive on the corner of Market Street and Kings Highway, is a reliable and honest repair shop. I have been to them a few times since for various problems and I wanted to recommend them to everyone I know who has a car. (by the way, it was a crack in the black rubber intake L pipe.)
I had already spent over $2000 by the time I took it to them and was considering getting a new car. They fixed it for under $400.
As recently as last summer, I would drive almost an hour to South Jersey farm stands to buy my local honey which, as all honey users know, is the most healthful honey to buy. You want local bees and not adulterated or processed honey. After all that driving (which I did enjoy in terms of lovely landscape) I discovered that all the honey I bought at the farm markets down there, was also carried by 3.Vercchio's on the Brooklawn Circle (Route 130 in Brooklawn). That produce market is the picture of American BOUNTY! I love to go there and see all the brightly colored fruits and vegetables and find new and mysterious fruits to try (like persimmons). And they have local honey in a variety of flavors - Cranberry, Blueberry, Wild Flower to name my favorites. They are also famous for their prices. This year I was also able to buy Claxton's fruit cake, which may be a joke to the wider public, but it is a life-long favorite holiday treat to me.
Finally, after walking the dog at Big Timber Creek a couple of days ago, while my daughter was home visiting me from New York, we were headed to Collingswood to go to lunch and we drove along Atlantic Avenue in Audubon. We passed a charming corner cafe' called 4.Simply Soup and decided to eat there instead. We had the 1/2 sandwich and soup special lunch offer at $7.95. We had a delicious white bean and escarole soup, homemade, and white albacore tuna salad sandwich on rye. One of my chief small grumbles at eating out is TOO MUCH FOOD. I'm trying to watch my weight and, too often, I'm watching it go up! The half sandwich and cup of soup was perfect - just enough to leave you full and satisfied but not so much that you had to bag it or stuff yourself. I highly recommend this little cafe, and I may add it was very popular with the locals, as I saw both times that I went there. I liked it so much when I went with my daughter, that I returned with friends. They also have take-out and platters and desserts and an atm machine. You can call 856-546-3939 for more information or to order in quantity. Simply Soups, 301 E. Atlantic Ave., Audubon, NJ
Hope you had a happy Holiday so far, and I look forward to sharing tips for places to go and things to do in South Jersey in the New Year!! If you have a place you want to add, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll gladly pass along your recommendation.
In fact, a writer friend of mine recently had her book of poems printed and bound at 5.Belia's Copy Center in Woodbury on Broadway and she wanted it known that they did a wonderful job and were very helpful and patient with her in the process. I have had a great deal of work done there myself and also recommend them. They are, also, a family run local business.
Happy Trails, and SHOP LOCALLY!! Jo Ann