The days are dwindling, and nervous shoppers are starting to feel the pressure of finding that perfect gift.
With only one more shopping weekend before the big day, merchants said last week that this is when the real fun starts.
This is when the chaos begins, said Abbe Rivers, the sociable owner of Empire Coffee and Tea Co. at 231 Washington St. Her store sells a selection gourmet roasted coffee beans, teas, gift baskets, mugs and imported chocolate goods, among other items. Rivers, who has owned the store for eight years, said she has a lot of experience with last-minute shoppers. Rivers added that her store and others that sell food and sweets are always considered last-minute stores.
People want to get those items as fresh as possible, she said.
But this year she expects more last-minute shoppers than in years past because Thanksgiving fell so late on the calendar. I think it is sneaking up on people and now they are starting to cram.
Another reason for the city's tradition of last-minute shopping is that most of its stores are small and individually owned, as opposed to being part of a large chain. When people go out and shop early [in the season] more people go to the big department stores and malls, said Pam Ghosh, the owner of The Dockyard home furnishings store at 604 Washington St. They usually save the last couple days to shop in their local neighborhood.
Ghosh, who hand picks every item her store, added that another key to attracting the last-minute shopper is to keep items priced reasonably, especially in a bad economy.
Neeta King, the owner of Aaraa at 106 Fifth St., between Washington and Bloomfield streets, said that in the last couple of days, she has had more people come into the home furnishings store, and she expects the traffic to increase until Christmas. It's really beginning to pick up, said King Thursday. Everyone says that Hoboken is famous for its last-minute shopping.
A newcomer to the Hoboken Christmas rush is Fran Fitzgerald, the owner of Travelography at 523 Washington St. His store, which opened earlier this year, sells travel related gifts such as guides, books, and maps, as well as distinctive globes. I'm absolutely looking forward to the next couple of weeks, he said Thursday.
Free parking and shuttle
The Hoboken Chamber of Commerce and the municipal government are sponsoring free parking at the Hoboken Parking Authority's Garage B, located on Second Street between Hudson and River streets. Those wishing to take advantage of the service can receive parking validation from most of the Chamber of Commerce's member stores and several other local businesses. The offer is available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays starting Saturday, Dec. 7, and will run through the last weekend before Christmas.
The free Shop Hoboken shuttle bus is an effort to assist shoppers and residents in patronizing the city's main retail district without taking their cars. The program will utilize one of the city's buses, with the city paying for gas and maintenance and the Chamber of Commerce paying for the driver.
According to the Chamber of Commerce, the bus will follow a continuous route beginning at Second and Washington streets, heading north to 14th Street, turning left onto Willow Avenue and riding down to 11th Street. The bus will then turn onto Washington Street, ride down to Third Street and turn left toward Hudson Street, where it will finally turn right to the public parking garages, completing the 20-minute route.
The bus will stop at all the designated points and run Saturdays and Sundays for the rest of the month, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.