By ROBIN WOODS
For Montclair Local
2020 has been a year like no other, memorable and difficult at the same time. We need a little Christmas, Hanukkah or Festivus right this very minute. Shopping is good therapy, and all that’s needed is a trip to some local stores. Change out of your pajamas and bunny slippers, take a walk or short drive around town. There are so many practical and unusual gifts to choose from to purchase in person or online for those on your list, or to cheer yourself up.
MONTCLAIR-THEMED GIFTS AND MORE
Sisters Jordyn and Cali Goffin choose gifts for everyone at their store, Giftbar, from Montclair mugs, coasters, cards and signs to jewelry, candles, oil diffusers, clothing accessories and pop-culture-inspired gifts, such as canvas totes with illustrations of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Prince, David Bowie and Frida Kahlo.
“We started an online component in March 2020, responding to the needs of families keeping close to home with their children. Games, puzzles and stay-at-home activities are very popular. We have something for everyone,” Jordyn said.
Giftbar sells many brands of candles, with Little Shop of Oils gemstone candles a favorite of Jordyn’s and a good pick for friends and coworkers. Foodies will enjoy Make Your Own Everything Bagel or Pickle kits as gifts, all ingredients except perishable items included. Choose cookbooks for chefs and novice cooks on your list.
Fuzzy, soft socks for men and women in many colors, with funny and silly sayings woven into the fabric, are warm and cozy. Stock up on cards for every gift occasion, or just to keep in touch, and you’re good for the rest of 2020 and into 2021. You can shop in-store, 465 Bloomfield Ave., or order online, shopgiftbar.com.
Montclair has a vibrant arts community, and local abstract artist Jacky Sambolin has been creating unique works for the past 25 years, painting and experimenting with different mediums and styles.
“I always wanted to be an artist, but at first wasn’t brave enough to choose it as a career for many years. I was my own worst critic,” Sambolin said.
Through experimentation and practice, she has come up with a line of decorative heat- and water-resistant ceramic tiles in many colors and patterns, using an acrylic paint pouring and layering method. She mixes the paint with a medium that doesn’t break down the elements, like Floetrol. Sized from 2-by-2 to 12-by-12, the artistic tiles can be used as coasters or serving platters.
The results are vibrantly colored, reminiscent of space galaxies and the sea, influenced by the artist’s love for the dreamlike works of Modigliani and the bright colors of Toulouse-Lautrec. Although there is no brick-and-mortar store, you can take a virtual tour at jackysmoodyart.com to purchase, or arrange for a special canvas art commission piece. Local no-contact delivery or pickup is also available.
FEEL GOOD, BE HAPPY, FOCUS BETTER
The Green Room at 20 Church St. is Darek Michael Wajda’s third location in New Jersey.
“But it is Montclair’s first CBD [cannabidiol] store, and CBD is nature’s natural anti-inflammatory, with anti-stress and anti-anxiety properties. All products are federally compliant,” Wajda said.
You can find hemp-infused chocolate bars, gummy bears and cookies there, along with CBD tinctures and topical face and body creams. The Green Room also sells loose hemp for customers to use as smokeables, or you can choose from pre-rolled hemp varieties.
Wajda asks customers, “How do you want to feel today?” and makes recommendations for varieties that can help with anxiety, tighten focus or create a sense of well-being.
Brew your own hemp-infused Cuban espresso blend ground coffee or tea with an extra kick to it.
“CBDs don’t cure anything, but it’s a feel-good gift,” Wajda said.
The candies, lip balm and colorful scented bath bombs also make great stocking stuffers for the holidays. The Green Room is open seven days a week, or order online at thegreenroomnj.com.
IT’S A FAMILY AFFAIR
Beth Stricof and her son Ben are the epitome of family togetherness, and opened their store &Son in early October. They spend seven days a week together in the store.
“Look at this as a home. A lot of people just fill up a store with merchandise. We’re stocked with specific and well-curated items that tell a story,” Beth said.
A dining room table set with dishes, silverware and table décor meets you at the entrance, as if ready to serve a family meal. Shelves are filled with blue block reading glasses to ease eye strain from working at home on your laptop, and soft socks that keep your feet warm. Bundle up from the cold with handmade hats and scarves. Classic children’s books bound in leather make great gifts, as do pencils and amusing ceramic pieces.
“We have good taste,” said Ben, and handmade Anchal clothing made in India helps to support women and create free trade around the world.
A one-of-a-kind handcrafted backgammon set will delight that special someone on your list. &Son also supports artisans in the New Jersey area, with photographs for sale, along with serving pieces so beautiful that they look like works of art. Shop in-store at 43a Church St., or at shopandson.com.
BRINGING A TASTE OF SICILY TO MONTCLAIR
If you can’t take a trip out of town or fly to Europe, Caterina Russo brings a taste of Sicily with her new shop, Sicilia Mia, at 4 South Fullerton Ave., siciliamiaimports.com.
“I chose Montclair because it’s such an artistic town. People appreciate good food, art and good quality,” Russo said.
She imports bottles of extra-virgin olive oil, which have hand-painted designs on them created by eight artists who live in Italy. There are dozens of designs to choose from, and Oil in The Bag, which comes with its own matching fabric carrying case, allows you to bring your own oil with you to restaurants. Fabric masks and aprons match the designs on the bags. Buy sweets for your Thanksgiving or holiday table. A tasting table is set up with all food items to try before you buy. Sicilia Mia also has artisanal pastas and sauces and fruit marmalade. The store offers premade or custom foods packed in hand-painted wood baskets to make this holiday season delicious and happy.