Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 3/19/17
Out of all of the busy Main Streets throughout the Garden State, Gannett New Jersey voted Westfield — an upscale Union County town that offers Old World-charm as well as modern sophistication — as the best destination for shopping.
“Westfield is beautiful, with its old buildings, great restaurants and fantastic stores” said Ed Menapace, owner of the Farmhouse Store, which sells furniture, home décor and gifts. “There are only a handful of thriving downtowns like Westfield in New Jersey.”
One benefit of shopping in Westfield versus other downtowns is that the town offers a combination of national and independent stores, such as Lord & Taylor, Ann Taylor and Urban Outfitters alongside Adlers Jewelers, Bittersweet Designs and Castle Bootery.
For Christine Foley, a 24-year resident of Westfield, that combination of big and small makes the town a great shopping destination — she appreciates that she doesn’t have to go the mall to visit some of her favorite brand-name stores because they’re in walking distance from her home. Her shopping experiences are made more friendly and intimate because while she is out shopping in the downtown, she often runs into friends and neighbors, she added.
Sherry Cronin, executive director of the Downtown Westfield Corp., said that about a third of the town’s independent businesses have been in Westfield for 25 years or more. Plus, she added, the shops’ owners provide a level of service that can’t be beat.
“The independent shops provides excellent products and services — many of the merchants know their customers by name or their favorite items,” she said. “Some of them also offer curb-side delivery, special orders, gift wrap and delivery.”
Throughout the years, some stores have come and gone in Westfield, but Menapace said that he has noticed that independent shops in the town have really stepped up their game to keep up with online shopping.
“I’ve never seen such creativity and smart retail design. I think we all know that consumers can sit on their sofas and shop online all day long,” he said. “We need to make sure we are giving them an experience they can’t get over the Internet. Just walk down the streets of Westfield and look in the windows. You’ll be blown away.”