Although Bayonne has retail elsewhere, the nearly 60 blocks of Broadway make up its principle shopping district.
Bergen Point Merchants and Town Center Management Corporation represent the lower two-thirds of Broadway, and say that shoppers are still flocking to the traditional district despite competition from malls outside the city.
Bergen Point offers food and gifts
The Bergen Point section of Broadway runs from Fifth Street to Eighth Street, but includes other businesses off Broadway in its shopping district.
While Brennan's Irish Gifts is the only retail gift store along this stretch of Broadway, the area has a significant number of food establishments, including Mona Lisa, Sea Food Cottage, Amici's, and even Naples Pizzeria.
Unfortunately, one tradition was lost to local merchants this year with the closing of Johnson the Florist, from which many people purchased their poinsettias each year - leaving many to have to travel up to Sacalis Florist at 26th and Broadway this year. Bergen Point shoppers will still travel to Lucky's Hardware for their decorative lighting needs.
While retailers elsewhere along Broadway say the last 10 days of the Christmas season are the most hectic, Brennan's Irish Gifts is already busy with shoppers seeking Beleek ornaments or ladies' wool pouches. Although Beleek is world-famous for its china, once a year it issues a holiday ornament. As the name implies, Brennan's Irish Gifts supplies an assortment of Irish-related Christmas items. The store, located at 164 Broadway, is open Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Town Center offers a lot
In Town Center, some of the city's oldest retail establishments are at the center of this year's Christmas rush, although they expect the biggest burst of activity to occur between now and Christmas.
Irwin's Department Store at 22nd Street and Broadway has done business on the same corner for 55 years, carrying on many of the same traditions - including serving as the location for the three-day U.S. Marines Corps Toys for Tots collection point.
"Christmas is very strong this year," said Irwin Rausch.
Irwin's carries plenty of traditional toys for kids, small appliances, and a variety of gifts.
"We have a lot of things people can use as stocking stuffers, as well as Christmas wrap, and tree and trim things," Rausch said.
He said his phone keeps ringing with requests for Nintendo Wii.
"There must be a shortage of the gaming system," he said. "But we don't carry it."
Mel Stock, owner of Barney Stock on 23rd and Broadway - which has been in business for 85 years - said he is bracing for the last 10 days when business is most brisk. His big concern is the unusually mild weather that could discourage customers from purchasing some of the traditional Christmas clothing such as gloves, scarves and sweaters.
Community-based stores like his, Stock said, have to offer better service in order to compete with the malls.
"While we offer discounts on all the famous brands and have a liberal exchange policy, it is our personal service to the customers that allows us to compete," he said. "In mall stores, you will have a hard time finding a salesperson and you will likely stand on long lines. Not here."
He said the city's offering of free parking during the holiday season in the nearby lot helps as well, as does the fact that the Urban Enterprise Zone charges only 3.5 percent sales tax on items other than clothing.
"There is no tax on clothing," he said.
With the rush for school uniforms over for a while, Herbert's Army and Navy Store and its newly opened decal center next door may be a place to shop.
Avenue, one of the mainstays of Broadway and a retailer of quality designer clothing for women in larger sizes, has been a very popular place in 2006, offering good-looking clothing in sizes traditional stores often lack.
Mark Divock of Klothes Kloset said Christmas sweaters and fleeces seem to be an attraction this year, although the last ten days of the Christmas shopping season may change all that.
Take a break at a good eatery
From the Broadway Diner at one end to the Bayonne Diner at the other, midtown to uptown, Broadway has a host of food establishments where holiday shoppers can stop for meals, including Adia Ethiopian Café, Angelina's Restaurant, Asia Palace, Piccolino's, Buon Appetito, Irene's, Jaro's, La Travita, Churchill's Inn, Constantine's, The Lighthouse, Mama Rosa's, Mediterraneo, Panj Palace, Pattaya Japain, Puebilito Viejo, R&B'z, Rincon Latino, San Vito, Villa Turano, and Lucy's Café.
Some businesses along Broadway such as the Big Apple Restaurant and Kodak Jewelers have a new look, thanks to their involvement with the city's façade improvement program.
While Big Apple has no specific offerings just for Christmas, it is one of the many quality eateries Broadway has to offer.
Jewelry is very much in fashion
Although Bayonne has a number of fine jewelry places, Kodak Jewelers may have fooled a few people with its new façade. Creighton Kodak said the façade has brought in new customers and compliments from its regular customers. Like many merchants, he said the busiest time is the final 10 days before Christmas.
Offerings in his store include Swarovski crystal and jewelry, Lenox gift wear, and the ever-popular diamond jewelry.
One of the hot items this year is Journey Jewelry, items that are made up of a series of precious stones (generally diamonds) from small to large depicting the steps in people's lives.
Ann Paris of Aaron's Gold agreed that Journey Jewelry is the hot item of the season, created out of white gold and diamonds.
"These have a very appealing look," she said.
Paris said Aaron's Gold is still getting a significant call for Circle of Life jewelry, which - like Journey Jewelry - has its roots in Celtic tradition. Shoppers can expect free gifts with sales over $75, and a sample of homemade chocolate just for coming in to look around.
The last year has seen a new location for Abraham's Jewelers, which has moved from its previous location to new digs near 21st Street and Broadway.
Books, spices and everything nice Books are a very traditional gift for Christmas, and Leonard Janes of Unique Books said his offerings from the New York Times Best-Seller list are flying off the shelves. His store, located near 21st Street, also offers an assortment of other items, including Christmas mugs and handmade Christmas ornaments - including the Bayonne Christmas ornament issued by the Historical Society. One of the hot items in Janes' store is something called book flops, which allow people to easily keep their place in books they are reading.
For those preparing their own meals or looking for edible yet healthy stocking stuffers, John's Health Food store is the answer. Not only do they provide you with a list of fresh spices that you can purchase there for the traditional or non-traditional Christmas meal, but they offer fresh spices at a fraction of the cost of supermarket spices, which may not be nearly as fresh. The store provides an assortment of nuts and dried fruits, as well as the most traditional Christmas spices of all, Frankincense and Myrrh.
Still time to ship
New this year to Broadway is The UPS Store at 470 Broadway, which allows people to ship gifts to distant friends and family. While it is too late in the season for regular ground shipping, the UPS Store can still ship the gifts in time. If brought in on Dec. 18 or 19, gift-givers can use three-day, two-day or next-day service. On Dec. 19-20, two-day or next-day service is available. After Dec. 20 to Dec. 22, only next-day service is available.