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Jersey City — New Hot Spot for Hipster Shopping

Williamsburg beware: Hipsters are finding a new hot spot to indulge in one-of-a-kind fashion on a Jersey City budget.

Email icon  hala@nyu.edu

Williamsburg beware: Hipsters are finding a new hot spot to indulge in one-of-a-kind fashion on a Jersey City budget. With the Grove Street Path subway train station as its hub, historic downtown Jersey City boasts three unique boutiques that offer international and era-bridging fashions. From modern trends at Tia’s Place to Asian styles at Zen Garage to nostalgic steals at Hala Vintage, shoppers can build a wardrobe that reflects the historic yet hip feel of downtown Jersey City.

Just two blocks from the Grove Street station, nestled between a real estate office and a mosque, Zen Garage first catches shoppers’ attention with colorful fabric lanterns from Nepal, their mirrors (some on sale for $55) reflecting the sunlight, hanging from the ceiling. There are life-size wooden tribal fertility statutes from the Ivory Coast. But there are numerous smaller items too — everything from a black oversized bag showcasing an embroidered tiger’s head, hand-knitted alpaca wool scarves, colorful Asian print throw pillows, tribal masks and a chocolate brown, deliciously soft suede men’s shirt for $80.

The owner of Zen Garage, Marcelo Kruschewsky, recently made two trips to Asia, including Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Nepal, to stock his store with an eclectic collection of international arts. As a buyer for two other stores, he also frequently travels to Brazil to tap the arts of his native country.

“I tried to make [Jersey City] another artistic destination … because the whole area is so diverse,” he said. “I love the constant contact with people. You learn so much about shopping psychology.”

For example, he enjoys seeing shoppers’ reactions. It is very pleasing and satisfying, he said, when they like the store’s items since these are things that he personally chose, so his interests align with theirs. “There is always something new at his store,” he said.

Zen Garage is located at 302 Grove Street. Call (201) 432-1300.

Across the street and up one block from Zen Garage, Tia’s Place tempts shoppers with big and small designer labels, including Tracey Reese, Mavi, MBX, Penguin, Splendid and The Nomadtribe. Female shoppers can model a $80 Splendid cotton tan hoodie more worthy for a night on the town than the gym — adorned by the French fleur de lys symbol and copper, green-jeweled end-caps on the hood’s drawstring. Men can share the hipster catwalk by purchasing a $140 MBX black suit jacket with attached gray hood and matching gray sweatsuit material stripe running down the sleeves.

Ambiance is half the experience. With restored antique crystal chandeliers, exposed brick walls, and many mirrors, shoppers stroll through wools, cottons, and silks arranged by similar colors before retreating behind the pink raw-silk-curtained dressing rooms to try on their selections.

Megan O’Sullivan, the owner, left a career in finance and opened Tia’s place 18 months ago. Inheriting her interest in fashion from her grandmother Tia who made clothes for herself and other women in her neighborhood, Megan co-manages the store with her best friend Allison. O’Sullivan says the shop “reflects Jersey City in its individualism and relaxed attitude.” Tia’s Place will soon open a second floor, meaning more room for formal dresses, lingerie, cosmetics, fragrances and an expanded men’s collection. “We’re here to help and get to know people without hovering,” she said. “I want people to come in and just have a nice experience because we truly enjoy it!”

Tia’s Place is located at 277 Grove Street. Call (201) 451-9358. Online at www.tiasplace.biz.

A bit farther off the beaten path, Hala Vintage greets shoppers with a white gate. This is one vintage store where shoppers may still snare a bargain. But quality is not sacrificed for lower prices. Shoppers can raid the shelves of ’20s, ’30s and ’40s hats, many in near mint condition, that often sell for just $25, or purchase a soft brown, pleated leather skirt priced under $100. At times, shoppers can also find one-of-a-kind cowboy boots resting in the corner, and imagine the ghost of their former owner reclining, feet propped up, beside them. There are also varieties of shoes, jewelry, lingerie and men’s clothes.

Owner Hala Schlub, a slender, young blond-haired Louisianan, looks like she shops at her own store. As a stylist, she holds yearly fashion shows, in conjunction with local art gallery openings, that display the store’s clothes. Schlub encourages shoppers to put a new spin on the items they buy by updating and modernizing them. She describes the store’s ample collection as “Stylish and classy, not trendy, but ‘with’ the trends.” Ask her friends from Louisiana, and they will tell you that Hala has created a store that reminds them of New Orleans.

Hala Vintage is located at 326 5th St. Call (201) 653-8877.

hala@nyu.edu 551.208.1595