Montclair NJ’s purchases promoted on Small Business Saturdays

What a difference a year makes.

Just 12 months ago, there were so many empty storefronts along Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair that the Business Improvement District asked artists to install works of art there.

This year, those showcases are filled with merchandise.

According to Jason Gleason, executive director of the Business Improvement District, on Church Street for Small Business on Saturday, the vacancy rate in Montclair Center fell from 18% in January to 11% this month.

Forty-nine new businesses have set up in the district, he said; subtracting the loss from 18, we get a result of 31.

The story continues under the gallery

“It’s amazing,” he said. He cited the many new restaurants to come, including Porta in the space formerly occupied by the Montclair Social Club; the steakhouse in the building that housed The Crosby and Fin; Pineapple Express Barbecue at Lackawanna Plaza and the new Mochinut donut shop. But besides the restaurants, there are also what he calls “different and interesting” businesses such as Gravity Vault, for the interactive block, One River School for the art classes. and a new physiotherapy practice called Integrated Core Concepts combining physiotherapy, yoga and psychology services.

Recently, he connected Integrated Core Concepts to the new Vanguard Theater for a collaboration involving their current play, “Next to Normal”.

“We have synergies going on and our office business is going crazy,” he said. “There is a ton of interest in the Montclair Center.”

Gleason’s statistics do not include new businesses in Montclair’s other shopping districts, such as Walnut Street, Upper Montclair, Watchung Avenue and South End, which also welcomed shoppers with promotions for Small Business on Saturday.

But Montclair Center, with over 400 shops and services on or near Bloomfield Avenue, is the world’s largest shopping district. On Saturday, young musicians from Jazz House Kids played their instruments despite the freezing temperatures and the performers sang “Next to Normal” numbers. Santa and Mrs. Claus greeted the children, and city council members handed out free shopping bags and parking passes for return visits to those who presented proof of local purchase.

Development:Montclair’s new arts district opens, with luxury apartments and performance spaces

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Councilor Peter Yacobellis, who previously led the Small Business Saturday team at American Express, said the 11th annual event has grown in importance this year for the many businesses in Montclair who have battled the pandemic and the Ida floods. .

“We want to encourage people not only to shop but also to dine small and to frequent service operations in town such as barbers and nail salons, gyms, lawyers and photographers,” he said. he declares. The city and the BID have launched a new online business directory,, and he urged people to research items and services there before purchasing them elsewhere.

One of the biggest obstacles to shopping in Montclair – parking – is improving a lot, Yacobellis said. “Now with the parking lots on Seymour Street and soon on Glenridge Avenue, as well as the lots already in place, we have parking to meet demand. “

Free parking during the two-hour holidays at meters across town began on Saturday until the end of the year.

Kristin Murphy of Glen Ridge was at Wow Sports Cards on Church Street to purchase a Pokémon game, on sale, for her 11-year-old son, Connor.

Jason Gleason, Executive Director of the Montclair Business Improvement District, with Santa and Ms. Klaus on Small Business Saturday.

She noticed the new store last week as she was in town with her son to check out Pokémon cards at East Side Mags, then grab a bite to eat at Bareburger.

“I like to shop locally for the ease,” she said. “I’m not a web shopper. I love to touch and see things, and I love the interaction.”

Mayor Sean Spiller said he was “excited to be here and say, ‘Buy local today, but hey, buy local every day,'” he said. “It’s really a state of mind. We’ve all seen big box stores take over. But if we support our downtown area, we can maintain our uniqueness.”

City Councilor and former Mayor Bob Russo said it was remarkable to see the changes downtown since the pandemic, when small businesses were suffering so badly, “Church Street is really jumping,” he said. “Look at that, we have a few new businesses here. We got the Clairidge Theater back, it’s really important. The whole downtown area is coming back.”

Gleason said that next year the BID will be celebrating its 20th anniversary, and he browsed through photos of downtown from the time. “It’s really amazing what the Montclair Center has become over the past 20 years,” he said. “We’re seeing bigger and bigger things like the jazz festival coming to downtown and working with our nonprofits.”

Spiller paid tribute to his predecessors for planning the transformation. “Over the years the city center has really filled up, starting with the redesign of South Park Street until now with the Arts Plaza in Seymour Street. Every area connects and it becomes very passable. you look at Upper Montclair and the South End, and there are a lot more places people can visit. ”

Julia Martin is the 2021 recipient of the New Jersey Society for Professional Journalists David Carr Award for her coverage of Montclair for

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Twitter: @TheWriteJulia

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