Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Go Loco for Local

As we head into fall (and emerge from the wake of the hurricane and flooding), it's important to start thinking really local. I've heard a lot of people talk about doing their holiday shopping early (some even now), and I beg you to please shop locally. Wherever you live, whether it's in my neck of the woods or in the middle of Idaho, shop locally and from independently owned shops.

I know that the economy has everyone tightening their purse strings, and getting soap at Wal-Mart for under a dollar is far more appealing than buying a $5 bar. But if you can, do it. American was built strong ideals, and people who took care of people in their community. They knew the owners of the hardware store, they knew the butcher, the pharmacist. As we've gotten more global, we've sort of let go of that small town mentality, but it's that very mentality that will keep us afloat.

Wondering how you can go local? Buy your coffee from independently owned coffee shops, especially your beans. Get gift items at small shops, the ones where the owners are behind the register. Get your shoes at mom and pop shoe stores instead of the mall. Buy from people who care, who want to succeed, and who give back to the community. This doesn't mean you can't supplement from chain stores. I'm just asking that you first search through the local shops for what you need, and if you really cannot find it, then go ahead and cave to the chains.

This image is from the Boonton Main Street page. Will you take the indie challenge, too?

Here are my big tips, and local places to buy from. If you aren't local, just apply the tips and discover fabulous shops in your area. I am sure I am forgetting a ton, so please post your comments on the blog in the comment section (can be anonymous, if you desire), for others to read.

Grocery Items
Things you absolutely, positively must get from a grocery store can probably also be found in a health food store. Try there before going to a big chain store. Also try farmer's markets, while they are still open. Maple syrup, pancake mix, and some other kitchen staples can be found at Dash of Thyme Gourmet on Broadway in Denville. They even have olive oil, poured fresh from a vat, at your request. How's that for fresh?

Get your coffee beans, or grinds, from an independently owned coffee shop. Locally, you can buy coffee beans (whole and ground) at Heavenly Temptations on Main Street in Boonton, and Mara's in Denville. My friend Steven Schnitzler (raised locally in Montville) is an avid supporter of small town shopping and has a coffee company, so you can always buy from him, wherever you live. He's a good guy with a big heart who always gives back to the community. Even after he's moved out of town, his heart still exists in Montville. His shop, Port City Java, can be found online at

Gourmet Foods
Get your gourmet food and pantry items from small, specialty shops, like Dash of Thyme Gourmet on Broadway in Denville, and Heavenly Temptations in Boonton. Dash of Thyme has everything from dips and salsa, to jams, hot sauces, seasoning mixes, artisan biscotti, chocolate bars, and candles. When you walk into their shop, you will immediately feel like you are in the right place. Whenever Sergio & Co. reopens (on Broadway in Denville), please do your shopping for Italian meats, cheeses, and Italian specialties there.

Home Goods & Hostess Gifts
Instead of going to Home Goods for hostess gifts, visit Surprises In Store, and Dash of Thyme Gourmet (both in Denville); Savannah Hope Vintage in Boonton; and the newly opened Simplify Marketplace in Mountain Lakes. Savannah Hope Vintage has tons of gorgeous furniture, but also has vintage plates, decor, artwork, plus handmade jewelry, repurposed flatware, ecofriendly items include unbleached reusable coffee filters. Cool greeting cards, too.

Simplify Marketplace has trendy pillows and blankets, great gifts for kids, books, jewelry and more. The also offer fresh flower arrangements, and will soon have baked goods. Surprises In Store has blankets that feature our local towns on them, New Jersey finger towels and pillows, Vera Bradley bags, and other fun items. Dash of Thyme has cheese cutting sets, mugs, candles, and decorating items.

Teacher's Gifts/Gifts for Neighbors
Gifts for teachers, neighbors, and locals are so easy, when you take the indie challenge. Let me start by saying that I know a lot of teachers personally, and not one has said they need/want another #1 Teacher anything! Gift sets are always fabulous, and being the girlfriend and business partner of Ward Vogt, I highly suggest giving his note card set as a gift. He has packs of Mountain Lakes note cards, Denville note cards, and Boonton note cards. His Mountain Lakes note cards are available at Simplify Marketplace in Mountain Lakes; and all three sets, along with single image note cards, are available at Savannah Hope Vintage in Mountain Lakes. His award winning photo of Downtown Denville at Dawn is featured at a postcard, available for sale by the register, at Surprises In Store. While we, Ward Vogt Designs, are a local business, we don't have a storefront. Please still shop our small, independently owned business. You can visit our virtual shop (for things that aren't in local stores, and custom prints) on etsy at

For bottles of wine, champagne, and beer for parties and gifts, please go to Denville Liquors on Broadway in Denville. The owners are the nicest people in the world. Their storefront window shattered during Irene, people were trying to steal their liquor (the police had to sit outside all night watching the store), and they had to open and pour down the drain, every bottle of alcohol. Buy all your alcohol from them for as long as you drink!

Want to stop for a drink? The Second Half on Main should be reopening by the end of September, so swing by the bar and say hello to the owners, while grabbing a beer.

Books & Magazines 
Buy your gag gifts, magazines, and newspapers at United Smoke Shop in Denville. In Boonton, Bobby's News and Gifts carries every imaginable magazine, high end gift wrap and bows, books, and Boonton t-shirts. He also has lots of book signings, so check back regularly for those.

Dog Treats
Dog food, biscuits, collars, and cakes! (yes, cakes) can be found at the famed Bubba Rose Biscuit Co. on Main Street in Boonton. All made on premises, and all very tasty (even for people).

Ladies Dresses, Clothing, Jackets, Bags
Party dresses, sweaters, jeans, and bags can be found at both Lotus Boutique and Robyn's Closet, both on Main Street in Boonton. Second hand versions of the same items can be found at Renew Restyle Designer Consignment Boutique in Denville.

Cell Phones
Need a new cell phone? Don't go to the mall. Visit the Verizon store in the Walgreens strip mall in Denville. They are the nicest people and will help you in any way that they can.

Fun for Kids
Make a gift with your kids, at Brushes and Bisque, on Broadway in Denville. You paint a ceramic piece, pay for it, and pick it up fired and ready just a few days later. Great gifts for parents and grandparents, and fun to do. Also, Dash of Thyme has baking and cooking kits for kids, and cookie cutters, too.

Don't buy your flowers in the supermarket (I buy mine at Simplify, and then get extra blooms at the supermarket to cut up and put in mini vases). Get them locally at Simplify Marketplace in Mountain Lakes, Moody Blooms on Main Street in Boonton, or at Broadway Florist in Denville.

Gifts for Men
When it comes to shopping for men, look no further than Bob's Men's Shop on Main Street in Boonton. It's fabulous. They have every great designer, including Tommy Bahama, and sizes to fit all men. Plus, they giftwrap! I also like the idea of gift certificates to what I call, man places. I've gotten gift certificates from Mountain Lakes Motors (great idea for oil changes, tune ups, tire rotations), and Mountain Lakes Car Wash. You can buy a book of washes from them (you can do that, too, in Boonton at the Boonton Car Wash).

Pampering for Women
Anything from the Urban Muse in Denville is wonderful. Mani/Pedi gift certificates from Denville Nails is a great idea (or any of the gazillion local nail salons). For mind/body gifts, gift certificates to Prana Yoga (Denville) and Balance Acupuncture Center (Boonton) are great ideas. Heck, just go in now to either place for some stress relief.

Sugar & Sweets
Desserts for parties are a no-brainer. Denville's Sugar Mommy cupcakes are simply amazing! In Mountain Lakes, Beth Moran of Simplify Marketplace, takes custom orders in everything from extravagant cakes to lollies (lollipops made with cake and beautifully decorated). I hear that she may be opening a bakery at the back of her store, Simplify, but check directly with her for details.

In Boonton, Heavenly Temptations makes daily sweets like brownies, cookies and slices of cakes. Right next door to Heavenly is Suzi Cakes, who makes the most amazing bite-sized treats. I've tasted them at events for Savannah Hope Vintage, and I have loved every bite. When Denville Dairy reopens, you must try their Candy Cane ice cream, and visit Sweet Expressions when they open, too (also a Denville favorite). Mara's has lots of sweet things, but my favorite there is the gelato. So while hoofing it around Denville, stop into Mara's for a gelato and a cup of coffee.

If you say Applebee's, I am just going to fall over. There are just too many restaurants too list, but my favorites are Montville Inn (Montville); Sogo, Cafe Metro, Casa Bella, Second Half on Main, Heritage Grill, Denville Diner, and Denville Pizza in Denville; Chili Willie's, Roma Pizzeria and Restaurant, and Thai Ping in Boonton.

Please let me know of your favorite local shops, or those that I may have forgotten or missed. I'd love to discover new places!


  1. This is so great! I love your blogs and will visit each and every store to support our local businesses. It's so important. You're doing a great job for Denville. Thank you Tiffany.

  2. Soapstone kitchen countertops could possibly be the thing you’re seeking inside a decorator’s think of the kitchen area!