EAST ORANGE, NJ - East Orange, New Jersey has seen a spate of new development recently. Blackstone 360, a developer has built 4 luxury buildings along South Harrison Avenue, all within walking distance to Brick Church Station on the NJ Transit Morristown and Gladstone lines and just 25 minutes away from New York City. Fitness chains Blink Fitness opened in 2018 and Planet Fitness opened in 2014. Other national and regional chains have opened in the city of 65,378 people since 2014, including Edible Arrangements, ABC Supply Co., Inc., and two 7-Elevens.
At the same time, East Orange natives have launched or returned home to the city of their birth to open unique retail establishments to serve a population they know well. Among them are two couples, Ozzie and Glenda Hansen and Roger and Andrea Tucker-Miller.
“East Orange is in a sweet spot – we are large enough to support a variety of businesses, yet small enough to be able to offer personalized attention to anyone wishing to invest here,” said Dan Jennings, Director of Policy, Planning and Development.
Ozzie and Glenda started The Urban Cyclery Shop in 2017 on Central Avenue to serve the growing bicycling community in East Orange and Essex County. Asked why they chose East Orange, Ozzie stated, that he would go to bike shops in neighboring suburbs and noticed that there were many black customers. However, in cities with large black and Hispanic populations like East Orange and Newark, he didn’t see bike shops. He knew there was demand in his hometown and he was correct. Their business has grown approximately 20% each year since founding in 2017 and they don’t see growth stopping. The location, great product and positive energy the pair bring to the business attracts people from East Orange, Newark, South Orange, Maplewood, Millburn and more. Each happy customer gets a photo outside the shop with Ozzie.
Spice N Thing opened in August 2018 along Main Street, one of East Orange’s other commercial corridors. Spice N Thing is run by the Millers and specializes in West Indian cuisine. The pair, both East Orange homeowners, opened a brick and mortar in East Orange to serve their community, church, and family. Roger is the personal chef for East Orange’s own Lauryn Hill who was present at the Ribbon Cutting last August. The Millers, who always enjoyed sharing West Indian food with their friends and family, now find that people from all over the area, particularly those looking for authentic Guyanese cuisine, are flocking to Spice N Thing. Especially for their specialties pepper pot and mango pineapple shrimp.
“We are so excited that so many East Orange natives and residents have decided to invest in their hometown,” said Mayor Ted R. Green. “As a native myself and a local business owner for nearly 30 years, I am extremely committed to seeing our city move forward. Many of these investors share that same level of commitment — one that often translates into a meaningful connection between the business owner, the consumer and success.”
Asked what’s next for East Orange, Urban Cyclery’s co-owner Ozzie stated, “I encourage residents of East Orange to stay and be part of the growth.” The pair is co-hosting the 2nd Annual 2019 East Orange All Ward Tour on June 29th. This will be a great event for cyclists, but also a chance for people to get to see East Orange – the neighborhoods, culture, and people.