Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 11/13/17
ASBURY – Alyson and William Malenchek of Lopatcong have always loved all things Americana. With a passion for seeking out unique, vintage items, it was only natural that William Malenchek and business partner Josh Kohn formed the Jugtown Mountain Motor Club in 2002 and in 2015 organized the official group, which holds events for car lovers to benefit local charities.
However, the Motor Club needed a home, and Alyson Malenchek was eager to find a home for her own genre of unique goods — handmade jewelry, ceramics, textiles, furniture, homewares and antiques.
That home was found in 2011, when the three stumbled across a 12,000-square-foot run-down building on 11 acres off of Interstate 78’s Exit 11 in Asbury. For five years, the Malenchecks and Kohn renovated the property, finally opening about one year ago as Exit Eleven N.J., the home of Exit Eleven Gifts, the Jugtown Mountain Motor Club and Immortal Ink 3, the third Hunterdon County tattoo location owned and operated by Kohn.
In their style of repurposing what could once have been thrown away in their renovation and rebuilding of hot rods and motorcycles, they did the same for the building, restoring it to its original splendor and installing a new roof, walls, windows and doors.
“We came across this building that we saw was run down, but we just knew it would be the perfect location to host all of our ambitions,” said Alyson Malenchek, who worked in retail for 19 years before opening Exit Eleven Gifts.
To find the store’s unique array of homewares, repurposed antiques, vintage jewelry and mid-century modern furniture with costs ranging from $10 to $450, the Malenchecks scour estate sales, flea markets and often are contacted with leads from friends and family.
“We try to look for items that are really unique that you can get excited about,” she said. “We are always making sure that our store is stocked with carefully curated items that you wouldn’t normally find in a gift shop.”
With custom tattoo designs offered at Immortal Ink 3, which also has locations in Clinton and Flemington that have been in operation since 1999, Malenchek said that she receives a steady flow of foot traffic from the neighboring shop with about 60 to 80 visitors per week.
Plus, she said that many customers find her on social media and will come from as far as New York and Connecticut to see what unique wares can be found at Exit Eleven Gifts.
“People over 55 years old love our items because they said it reminds them of their childhood, and younger clientele say our items are so interesting,” she said.
Exit Eleven Gifts will host their Made and Found Holiday Market on Dec. 10 at their location at 176 Route 173 in Asbury from noon to 6 p.m. featuring handmade jewelry makers, ceramics, textile art and more from local artists.
In the future, Exit Eleven N.J. plans to host more events — they already host Cruise Nights on the first Fridays of every warm month when enthusiasts can showcase their cars and motorcycles; their annual Hot Rod Hustle, which is a show for pre-1964 cars also featuring bands and food; plus, they are in the process of constructing a stage for local music performances.
Exit Eleven N.J.
What: Home to the Jugtown Mountain Motor Club, Exit Eleven Gifts and Immortal Ink 3
Where: 176 Route 173, Asbury
Exit 11 Gifts: 908-339-8263 or facebook.com/exitelevengifts
Made and Found Market at Exit 11 Gifts: Dec. 10 from noon to 6 p.m. at 176 Route 173 in Asbury
Jugtown Mountain Motor Club: facebook.com/jugtownmountainmotorclub
Immortal Ink 3: 908-713-0303 or immortalink.com