Could We Really Buy the Whole Town Before the Kids Got Home From School?

That's just what Patch set out to do at Shop & Eat Around Livingston.

We wondered, could Livingston Patch actually buy the whole town of Livingston?

I won the coveted assignment to spend the day ... shopping. Could I actually buy the whole town, as the savvy marketers implied, before the kids got home from school?

I could try!

So on Tuesday morning, as "Shop & Eat Around Livingston" dawned, I was prepared.  I had circled the many businesses out of the 50 involved that I would be visiting. I had my route planned out, my credit card at hand, and I was excited. Let the shopping begin!

was first on the list.  They open early (7:30 a.m.) and many times I’d dropped the kids off at school before going to Breslow’s for paint.  They expertly match any color and keep whatever you buy on file so when you need touch up paint or to reference what color you’ve painted a room, they can help.  They also have a guarantee that if you don’t like the paint, window treatments, or awning you bought from them, you can choose another (see www.breslow.com for more details).  Plus, they’re super nice. 

The second stop was at the Town Center where the smell of coffee was intoxicating.  I had strict orders from my kids not to come home without  a loaf of Irish Soda Bread. The market is a great place to have coffee and, perhaps a bagel, Parmesan Flats, enjoy some European delicacies or bobka.  (Don’t tell my family, but since they have WiFi, I plan on slipping away to Imperial to do some work or just read my book.) 

Next was , which a friend had recommended, for some earrings. The store is beautiful, with a wide assortment of jewelry at affordable prices. Friendly owner Marie Homsi explained that she chose to be involved with the Shop Around event because she’s a big believer in local and small businesses. "I think that for Livingston to succeed, the local businesses need to promote together," Homsi said. I walked out of there with a great pair of earrings for a low, low price.

was our next destination and if you’re looking for a new Spring purse, this is the place to shop! I was especially taken with their selection of scarves and the illustration of how exactly to tie a scarf (why buy one if you don’t know how to wear it). The they give is the kind anyone would need! 

I dashed over to the where I was dazzled by watercolors, photos, and oil paintings (I shied away from any pictures having to do Winter – had enough of that, thanks).  I found art for every room in my house including some framed sports jerseys that would look great in my game room and made my sports-oriented husband and son delirious.  Toward the ceiling I spotted some adorable mixed media in which a painting becomes 3D by extending out of the picture. The Tuscan scene of a vineyard was so mesmerizing, I felt I was there.

A little further down South Livingston Avenue is The Grey Dove where I shopped for a bat mitzvah gift.  Their selection of Judaica is remarkable!  The gracious sales staff showed me their most popular bat mitzvah items:  lovely glass perfume bottles and charming glass boxes for jewelry and whatnot.  The Grey Dove also had elegant tchotchkes which would be perfect for hostess or housewarming gifts. I could easily have taken half the store home.

Just a few feet away is the inviting shop where owner Helane Wallach was cheerfully waiting on customers. The store is filled with beautiful bedding that would make any child happy to be sent to their room.  They also had an array of baby gifts, wall art, and soft dolls. This is the place to go if you’re looking for a birthday gift for a special child and the best part is that personalization is included. I found the perfect gift for my daughter’s friend with barely a dent in my wallet.

was next, since my aunt needs a little something to spice up her wardrobe.  I browsed through their extensive selection of watches, jewelry, and handbags before choosing a necklace that will add a little kick to Auntie’s usual attire.  When you need a little retail pick-me-up, Accessorize This is the place to go.

By this time it was noon, and I was hungry so I headed over to for the “Best Pizza In Town.”  I’m quite familiar with Franco’s since our family goes there at least once a week. The pizza is thick with cheese, their chicken parmigiana sandwiches filling enough for my growing son, and I can get a salad that doesn’t make me feel like I’m dieting. Franco’s also has a room you can rent that’s great for a child’s or teen’s birthday party. 

Next, off to for another birthday present – this time for an adult.  The kids and I have been there many times to watch their train display and buy dolls of a quality you just cannot get at chain stores.  Our friend is a model train buff and I’m looking forward to the seeing his when he opens up the treasure from Meyer’s.

Lastly, I stopped at where my nose went into spasms of delight at the fragrance of so many fresh flowers.  I browsed their collection of houseplants, plush toys, cards, and balloons before choosing a bouquet of carnations to brighten the dinner table. 

Meanwhile, Patch reporter, college ace Phil Hoops, was also shopping and found some great deals on some new clothes at .

The idea for the event was the brainchild of the Livingston Business Improvement District. Beth Lippman she’d been fielding calls from merchants eager to accommodate more shoppers and BID hired a marketing company to get more businesses to use social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter.

"Shop & Eat Around" is the latest idea designed to show people how much there truly is in town, she said. Major sponsors were Regal Bank, West Essex Tribune and the Navigator.

“Events like this give people a reason to shop locally,” Lippman explained.  She also gave me the scoop on future events like a June Girls’ Night Out, where women will be invited to pamper themselves at the many salons in town, plus events in the Fall and around the December holidays.  All are designed to cross-market businesses and will, like Shop & Eat Around, give shoppers the opportunity to take advantage of discounts and win prizes. 

So many businesses, so little time – that’s the beauty of shopping in Livingston!


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