How We Work JCM
Small businesses are the heart and soul of the city
by Diana Schwaeble
Photos By Josh Dehonney
Nov 17, 2009 | 4103 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Joshua Dillon
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While current economic conditions have some folks wondering how to stay viable, many local businesses are thriving. These savvy locals have turned to their passions—whether creating the perfect flower arrangement, the perfect brownie, or a new approach to fitness.

Antheia Floral Design
218 Montgomery St.
(201) 309-9959

“Carnations are cool, they get a bad rap,” according to owner Angela Schwartz, who says that these versatile and hardy flowers can add to a bouquet. While typical shops might mix colors, Schwartz prefers to keep a simple palette and mixes textures instead, often looking to the flowers themselves for inspiration. What she likes best about Jersey City is the small-town feel. “It makes the community so much better when people shop in their town,” she says.

Bigdrum Art & Framing
127 First St.
(201) 418-8771

“I like working with people and he likes working with his hands,” says Carol Haight of her husband Bill, with whom she has run an art and framing shop for the past 13 years. Often new residents to Jersey City will give them a little test, she says, like replacing glass on something that was damaged in a move and then graduating to something important like a family picture. She says she helps them by supplying a hook and nail and hopes they will come back when it’s time to frame that family picture. “You have to frame it to their taste, not yours,” she says.

Feed Your Soul
520 Jersey Ave.
(201) 204-0720

Mya Jacobson offers cookies and spice and a word of advice. Since 2005, her homemade cookie business has grown, expanding to supermarket giant Kings and others. Her goal to create something “thoughtful and delicious” is apparent with her signature gift tin of cookies. Tucked inside every tin are words of wisdom, like her favorite saying from Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”

Grove Street Bicycles
365 Grove St.
(201) 451-2453

When Mike Wilson and Rodney Morweiser took the plunge and opened a shop last April, they expected business but didn’t realize the need was so great until the second weekend when they had more than 100 bikes in for service. “I’m working in an environment that is green,” says Wilson. “We are meeting people that ride for work and for health. We encourage people to get out of their cars and get on a bike.”

Liberty Schooner
Liberty Landing Marina (Slip I-8)
80 Audrey Zapp Drive
(973) 309-1881

Tours of New York Harbor or a private party cruise are two offerings that captains Philip and Sharon du Plessis give locals from April to October. Lifelong boating enthusiasts, the couple always wanted to come to the metropolitan area, finally realizing that dream in 2008. “We love to get to know people of different backgrounds,” says Sharon. While their boat can take groups of 49, she recalls a charter for two when a man proposed to his fiancé: “He decided the best way to do it was in front of the Statue of Liberty. It was so much fun and really romantic.”

Made with Love Artisan Bakery and Café
530 Jersey Ave.
(201) 850-3260

Visitors to the café and farmers’ markets are “eating food that God intended,” says Celeste Governanti, who uses only certified organic, chemical-free ingredients. Growing up in an Italian-American household, Governanti was always interested in baking. Specialties include apple cheddar scones, ground beef empanadas, and her mini-cakes. She also showcases local jazz musicians in her café on Friday and Saturday nights to complement her light supper.

Metropolis Music
240 Newark Ave.
(201) 222-8441

“Filling a need” was the reason musician Mark Dalzell began selling instruments and accessories in 2002 with his wife Christine. He got the idea after selling his old music equipment at a Hamilton Park flea market and customers thought he had a store. They now offer instruction in violin, trumpet, voice, and more—with 12 teachers and more than 200 students. “I still think of it as a store—that is my first love,” says Dalzell, who loves collecting instruments. “I sometimes forget what it was that I ordered until I open the box.”

Nine Lives Skate Shop
298 Newark St.
(201) 610-0200

As a lifelong skater, Joshua Dillon realized that local kids had nowhere to get equipment, clothes, and protective gear. He and partner Gia Sarmiengo were motivated by a need to provide for the kids and keep them off the street, he says. Since opening the shop in 2007, Dillon has less time to skate, but he is rewarded when locals “fall in love with the sport. They come in and all of a sudden you can see that the kid has so much talent,” he says.

Project Pilates
1 McWilliams Pl.
(201) 432-5849

Christie Freeman felt she had arrived in Jersey City when she and partner David Clarke secured the space for her studio in 2006. “That’s when I really started to feel like part of the community,” she says. A former dancer, Freeman initially wanted to open her own dance studio after moving to Hudson County in 2003. That changed after her first child was born, but not the desire to do something that involved movement. “I like that I was able to create a space that I like coming to,” says Freeman. “It makes me feel good when people say they had a good class.”

Torico Ice Cream Parlor
20 Erie St.
(201) 432-9458

“You can’t take a person too seriously when they are holding a cone,” says owner Pura Berrios. “Everyone becomes a kid again when they come in for ice cream.” This family owned-and-operated shop has changed with Jersey City, says Berrios, who recalls using the hand crank machine to make ice cream 41 years ago when she and husband Pete first opened. They’ve since graduated to batch making and more than 60 flavors, but with the same commitment to fresh ingredients like cream, milk, and fruit. “All done on the premises, all done fresh,” Berrios says.
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