About AwareNewJersey

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


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