SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. – Four South Orange businesses received a formal welcome from the Village Center Alliance at ribbon cutting ceremonies on Saturday.
Celebrating their grand openings were TJ’s Shoes, 9 Village Plaza; Wellness Interactive, 14 South Orange Ave.; Pandang Asian Bistro, 8 Village Plaza; and Little Shop of Hip Hop, 111 South Orange Ave.
TJ’s Shoes is a partnership among four businesses: TJ's Shoes, owned by Bencilla Powell; The Bag Man, owned by Charlie Penn; Sharif’s Oils; and An Extra Touch, owned by Kakila Hunter. The store bills itself as a “one-stop shop” that offers shoes, oils, handbags, boots, dressy and casual hats, and jewelry.
Powell said that her aunt Willie Eva Howard, 96, was the one who inspired the “whole concept” of four stores in one. The owners are vendors who also sell merchandise to corporations and hospitals.
Also included under the roof at TJ’s shoes is Creations by Maryam. Her crafts include jewelry and a collection of decorated pencils. “I’ve made thousands and never duplicated one,” she said. She got the idea when she was a teacher. Her students used to fight over pencils, so she made each child his or her own pencil.
Wellness Interactive, which expanded its South Orange location, is dedicated to helping people “learn new ways to develop wellness as a lifestyle,” according to Judi Blaylock, director of business development. The location offers items such as eco-friendly and natural products, but its main purpose is education, said President and CEO Desiree Watson.
“It’s about internalizing what it means to heal yourself,” Watson said. The location offers a range of complementary and alternative therapies, from scripture yoga to reflexology, as well as workshops for stress management and personal development.
Pandang Asian Bistro, managed by Jenny Chen, opened in October, and Chen said that business has been steady.
The bistro offers a range of soups, salads, appetizers and sushi, as well as a selection of Thai entrees. The welcoming committee took some time out on Saturday to share lunch and sample a number of Pandang’s offerings.
The Little Shop of Hip Hop is owned by Ron Brown. “I took two things I love, hip hop and flea markets,” he said of his store’s offerings. They include hats, jewelry and T-shirts, and he noted that Seton Hall University students have been steady customers.
“I also do custom shirts for people,” he said, noting that the work is done in-house.
More information is available on the Village Center Alliance website (click here).
The reporter is participating in a hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.