WESTFIELD, NJ — The uniqueness of the town’s local shops was on display Tuesday as federal officials sought to highlight the benefits of government-backed loans for small business owners.

Nabig Sakr and Carmen Cascao, owners N&C Jewelers, have worked in Westfield for 40 years, the past four of them at their location on Quimby Street. In an age where legacy brick-and-mortar shops compete with online trade, N&C has seen the change in Westfield.

“It has been slow the past couple of years,” Cascao said. “It’s worrisome when you see closed stores. But in the last six months or so when you go out, there is a little energy. There is hope.”

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Stores such as her own provide in-person service beyond that which online retailers can, Cascao said.

“The internet is not going away so we need to figure out what we’re going to do,” she said.

“We offer customer service,” added Sakr, her business partner. “That’s who we are.”

Republican Rep. Leonard Lance, who will face Democrat Tom Malinowski in the November election for his Seventh District seat, visited six businesses in the downtown, including N&C.

  • Limani Seafood Grill, 235 North Ave. West
  • Patricia & Paul Artisans of Fine Oils and Balsamics, 20 Elm St.
  • N&C Jewelers, 102 Quimby St.
  • Savory Spice Shop, 138 E. Broad St.
  • Farinolio – Tuscan Café, 121 East Broad St.
  • Kennedy’s All-American Barber Club

Lance's Westfield walking tour with representatives from the Small Business Association came to a town that Democratic Mayor Shelley Brindle in an interview Tuesday said is making a concerted effort to attract new business.

“We're looking at how can we be the most business-friendly town in the state,” Brindle said. “We’re doing an assessment of our zoning and the processes for when new businesses come here.”

Staff Writer Matt Kadosh may be reached at mkadosh@tapinto.net; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh