How we got started:
In June of 2011, I visited a friend in the San Francisco Bay Area. During the week I was there, we did not go to a single mall and the only retail chains we visited were supermarkets and gas stations. Her neighborhood is rich with small, independently-owned shops offering a diverse array of goods including books, jewelry, boutique clothing locally designed, ethnic fashions, consignment goods, and much more. In the area are also free, open meditation centers, and a variety of holistic healing centers.
When I returned home to New Jersey, there was something I was looking for – maybe incense – and I didn’t know where to find it in my neighborhood. I realized that it might be useful to people to have an online resource that can direct them to specialized, local, small businesses that provide the non-mainstream kinds of goods and services that I find interesting and that can’t be found in most malls. Thus AwareNewJersey.
Our Mission is two-fold:
- To find unique products and services for the discerning customer, throughout New Jersey;
- To provide New Jersey small businesses a directory and advertising space that focuses on select niche markets.
We focus on a small list of categories of products and services that interest us and, we believe, are difficult to find in the glutted market of malls and national chains; and that can take hours to ferret out online.
We’ve identified categories of products and services that “aware” New Jerseyans are interested in:
- The Arts – community theater, dance, music, art schools, individual painters, jewelers, photographers.
- Activities – things to do that we think are fun, many unusual, like small, local amusement parks, miniature golf, local film schools for kids, indoor rock-climbing….
- Beauty and Fashion – we include artisan jewelry, fashion and perfumes to name a few – we don’t include salons.
- Education – any business, in any category that includes education as part of their activity.
- Crafts – craft workshops, supplies, shops, fairs….
- Wildlife and Animal Welfare – emergency veterinarians, rescue organizations, wildlife rehabilitaters and sanctuaries, no-kill shelters, small local zoos.
- Home & Garden – decor, antiques, gardening, native plant nurseries, etc.
- Food – we don’t include eateries – but we do include chocolate and ice cream shops, artisan candy, artisan foods of all kinds, locally grown foods, farmers’ markets, farm; many are organic but not all. We do blog about eateries that we discovery.
- Culture – historical organizations, museums, bookstores and libraries to name a few.
- The Environment – the planet, the environment, parks, educational organizations and activities.
- For Kids – unique products and services for kids.
- Spirituality – spiritual paths, lifestyles and teachings, psychics, mediums, tarot and more; that are not main stream religions.
- Wellness – There is so much in this category: therapeutic Massage, Reiki, Herbal Medicine, Acupressure, Ayurveda and much more.
- Hobbies – things like collecting dolls, miniatures, etc.; reinactors; horiculture societies; genealogy.
- Miscellaneous – so far we have professional organizers, gift shops and miniatures. Here, we’ll include anything that fits in more than one category, or that we don’t know how to categorize.
- For Men – unique products and services that attract men.
- Small Business – organizations to assist and promote small, local, independent businesses.
About our owner, Lorraine O’Dell:
I’m a retired librarian with over 37 years of public service in 4 states and quite a few communities. As such, I gained an attitude, focus, outlook, bent toward service. I also gained a fairly good sense of what constitutes good customer service.
This business is intended as a supplement to my retirement income.
My outlook, in AwareNewJersey, is that I will succeed, if you, the members, succeed.
I also have “designed” several web sites, have a couple of blogs completely unrelated to this business, have taught a variety of computer skills, and have written grants.
While I didn’t fare as badly as some in the 2008 economic crash when the economy of the United States, and much of the World, was reset to benefit the few, I did lose a home and still feel that loss.
I love animals. I’m a family historian. I’m a messy gardener. I’m a senior. I have very recently acquired a fondness for Tillandsia air plants and now have a few (Tilly, Augie, June and Julia and Andrea) that I feel as affectionate toward as I do my 3 adopted stray cats.
Thank you for visiting.
Lorraine, Owner of AwareNewJersey