The latest update for this article is written by Lindsay Podolak.
When it comes to picking out presents, there’s no shortage of New Jersey stores hoping to win your business. Depending on your price range and personal preference, you can choose to go with a department store chain, a mid-sized retailer or a local merchant selling products made by artists from your community.
If you’re looking for books, toys, clothes — vintage or otherwise — antiques, records or comics, one of these alluring independent NJ stores might just be the place for you to find the perfect gift.
Princeton Record Exchange
Location: 20 South Tulane Street, Princeton
Details: One of the largest independent record stores on the East Coast, Princeton Record Exchange has been featured in newspapers such as the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and The Star-Ledger. The Record Exchange has a wide variety of CDs, DVDs and LPs, along with thousands of records for customers to peruse.
Why I like it: Prices start at just $1 so peruse the stacks– you just may walk away with some great bargain gifts!
More info: www.prex.com or call 609-921-0881
My Mommy Made It!
Location: 285 Franklin Avenue, Wyckoff
Details: My Mommy Made It! is the perfect destination if you’re searching for gift ideas or planning an event for young kids. The store creates announcements, invitations, stationary, camp writing kits and specializes in personalized items for babies and kids. As a bonus, personalization and artwork are always free, according to the store’s website.
Why I like it: Having been in business for 22 years, you are guaranteed to get a high-quality item that will become a keepsake for your child in years to come.
More info: www.mymommymadeitonline.com or call 201-891-4228
Location: 121 Broad Street, Red Bank
Details: If you’re seeking some quality men’s or women’s wear in Monmouth County, check out Garmany, a shop that believes that “customers deserve first-class care from the moment they walk through our doors.” The store carries many of the top brands in the fashion industry and seeks to create an atmosphere that makes the customer feel great using all five senses.
Why I like it: Professional clothing consultants and master tailors are on staff. They’ll ensure that you select the perfect gift for your loved one.
More info: www.garmany.com or call 732-576-8500
Patricia & Paul
Location: 20 Elm Street, Westfield & 417 Springfield Avenue, Summit
Details: Locals Patricia and Paul are passionate about olives and the nutritional benefits they offer. They have curated an extensive collection of gourmet extra virgin olive oils (imported and domestic), as well as balsamic vinegars from around the world. Visit the store to browse the pestos, pastas, teas, cookbooks and more…all things perfect to gift a kitchen connoisseur.
Why I like it: Free shipping is available for orders over $75 if you can’t make it into the store.
More info: patriciaandpaul.com/ or call 908-232-3866
The Toy Chest
Location: 335 High Street, Hope
Details: The Toy Chest, one of BestofNJ.com’s Best Independent Toy Stores, sells toys for a variety of ages and “will bring you back in time,” according to the store’s site. The store specializes in collectables and reproductions, but also offers a wide range of the latest toys on the market.
Why I like it: You’ll love spending time wandering around this brightly painted red house filled with two floors of toys!
More info: thetoychestllc.com or call 908-459-0494
The Joker’s Child
Location: 12-23 River Road, Fair Lawn
Details: The Joker’s Child has been a “one stop shop for everything and anything comics” since it opened in 1988 and rewards customers with “Joker Money,” which provides a discount on future purchases. The store maintains a large collection of current and back issues from all major and independent publishers and buys select comics (generally from the 1970s or older) and collectables. Customers looking to sell comics or memorabilia should call ahead to make an appointment.
Why I like it: Framing a vintage comic book is a unique gift for anyone into superheroes.
More info: jokerschild.com or call 201-794-6830
Location: 54 Fairfield St., Watchung Plaza, Montclair
Details: Founded in 1991, Watchung Booksellers offers a full schedule of author events, poetry readings, storytime for toddlers and book groups. The store selects books that reflect the local community and serves as the home-base bookstore for more than 60 published local authors, according to its site. In 2000, Margot Sage-EL became the store’s sole owner and in August 2001 moved it to its current location.
Why I like it: In addition to books, the store also has a small collection of gifts for sale. These non-book items must meet the following criteria: Does it make us laugh? Is it beautiful? Does it have anything to do with words? Will it make life easier for the customer?
More info: www.watchungbooksellers.com or call 973-744-7177
SaDee’s Clothing Boutique
Location: 204 Bellevue Avenue, Hammonton
Details: Open since February 2011, SaDee’s Clothing Boutique was recently taken over by new owners Amanda and Nick Poalise. The pair aim to continue the tradition of offering stylish apparel, gifts and accessories at SaDee’s, located on one of Hammonton’s main roads.
Why I like it: Candles, coffee mugs and other fun accessories are perfect for teacher gifts or stocking stuffers for girls.
More info: www.sadeesclothing.com or call 609-704-5587
Location: 187 Franklin Ave., Nutley
Details: Owner Diane DeKenipp operated an on-the-road boutique business before opening DiLaRu Boutique in downtown Nutley in 2011. The store carries stylish clothes, jewelry and gift items and offers designer brands at affordable prices. In addition, DiLaRu offers its own line of baby clothing and accessories.
Why I like it: Follow DiLaRu on Instagram to preview new items and find out about in-store sales.
More info: dilaruboutique.com or call 973-667-3452
Location: 323 South Main Street, Barnegat
Details: Owner Jim Episale specializes in ephemera (paper products that are normally thrown away) and has amassed an impressive collection of movie posters, photos, toys, magazines and more. “We are just temporary custodians of these artifacts,” Episale says on his site. “It’s something that all of us, both young and old, can share, enjoy and treasure, we sell the objects that people throw away and thus help preserve the past.”
Why I like it: There’s an entire room devoted to New Jersey-themed products, so if you’re looking for some Garden State memorabilia, this is the place to go!
More info: www.unshreddednostalgia.com or call 609-660-2626
Haines Farm & Garden
Location: 196 Route 130 North, Cinnaminson
Details: Longtime garden store Haines features a special area for gifts for the home. Willow Tree Angels, Byers’ Choice Carolers, wind chimes, candles, jewelry and other whimsical items can be found here. This is all in addition to the traditional flowers, plants and more that Haines has offered at the stores since 1885.
Why I like it: Visiting a friend’s beach house? There’s a room filled with shore-themed gifts and decor.
More info: www.hainesfarmandgarden.com or call 856-829-8333
Costello’s Christmas & Home Shoppe
Location: 2 Norwood Street, Deepwater
Details: Holiday decor and fine gifts make Costello’s a must-visit store during the winter season. Beautiful ornaments, candles and home decor will get you feeling festive, whether you’re purchasing for yourself or a friend.
Why I like it: The store also sells freshly-cut Christmas trees in early December, so you can make it a one-stop shop for the tree and the decorations!
More info: www.facebook.com or call 856-299-2999