Shopping Newark Downtown

Featured Newark Skyline photo credit to Sean Sutherland [ IG: @seansutherland ]

I know what many of you are thinking by the title. Shopping? In Newark, NJ? PASS! But wait! Don’t write off Brick City just yet. I have managed to get great pieces at low costs here. There are many beautiful hidden gems in this city. I’m a bit of an aspiring shopaholic Urban Explorer, and I love to find small shops, new mom-and-pop restaurants, and most of all great local dive bars — but I’ll write about that later.

Okay, Newark is not the friendliest of cities — but that is changing! The entire downtown area has transformed. It is coming out of its chrysalis stage and emerging the beautiful and colorful butterfly that many of us knew it could become! I have been around the downtown area for over 8 years now. I went to Rutgers University, which has a campus in Newark; and after graduation I worked at a law firm out of Military Park for several years.  So trust me when I say, I know what I’m talking about!

I remember the Hahne Building being nothing more than some abandoned building and just rumors of its redevelopment. I remember when The City began working on Military Park; and I remember being crazy excited for omg Chipotle Dinosaur BBQ and having a new restaurant by the Prudential Center.

But, I’m not here to promote for The City. I’m here to literally talk shop. I was blessed with the opportunity to collaborate with a new shoe store located right in the center of the city.

Feetomatic Shoetique by Auto Squad Girlz is an online and brick and mortar store.

I didn’t know what to expect when I paid the actual store a visit. The location is one of several Kiosks that are part of the “Newark Shops” program. Its several different small businesses coming together!

Feetomatic is all the way in the back, which gave me an opportunity to take a quick glance around and chat with some of the owners. Did I say Newark wasn’t very friendly? Because I might have to retract my statement maybe I’m just not friendly.

Kenyea Roberts, 36, began selling boots out of her home in Southward Newark back in 2009. At the time, she had been working part-time at Target and was unfortunately laid off (like so many of us). That was the moment she knew that she would grow her shoe boutique. Her business was slow and steady but began to take off.

When I buy for the store, I buy for my customers. I put personal preferences aside

Kenyea really launched her business when she took the Community Business Academy program offered by The Rising Tide.

Keith Dend, The Regional Director of the Newark Office gave me some insight into the program.

“We partnered with the CDEC so that students can get all the opportunities available to them. This is more that is offered from the city.”

President and Chief Executive Officer of Newark Community Economic Development Coorporation (CEDC) Aisha Glover was not available for comment because I’m awful and reached out for a statement like 30 seconds ago.

I was beyond excited when Kenyea told be about this program. I truly believe that small businesses are fundamental to our economy. Supporting them is so important! Honestly, where are you going to run for a last minute outfit when your zipper accidentally pops? Sorry, Amazon hasn’t invented instant delivery yet — and good luck if you thought the mall.

In total there are 5 retail incubator spaces.

  1. South Ward Community Storefront | 790 Clinton Avenue, Newark, NJ 07108
  2. West Ward Community Storefront | 989 South Orange Avenue, Newark, NJ 07106
  3. North Ward Community Storefront | 216-218 Bloomfield Avenue, Newark, NJ 07104
  4. East Ward Community Storefront | 124 Polk Street, Newark, NJ 07105
  5. Central Ward Community Storefront | 744 Broad Street, Newark, NJ 07102

I’ve only had a chance to visit the Central Ward store. But I hope to make it out to all the others soon.

Where to Start: Kenyea gave me these fabulous clear booties with transparent resin heel. This was my starting point. So many different directions and so many possibilities for these beauties! However, be warned! ANY PLASTIC SHOE WILL MAKE YOUR FEET SWEAT! Carry a mini talc bottle or anything to dry your smelly feet. Even the booties with the open toes will sweat, as well as jelly sandals. You’ve been warned

[ Feetomatic  However, I recommend visiting the shops if you can!]

Take a Risk: Bodycon dresses are always a risk. Bra strap too tight? People will know. Colored underwear? they know that too. Boyfriend cut panties? Yep. Sat on something mysterious on the PATH train? Congratulations, you look like you peed yourself. Plan out your undergarments accordingly. I recommend seamless underwear in a thong cut and setting a full cup bra one clasp looser than your normal setting.

Play it Safe:  I threw on this great little beige coat I got years ago at The Gap. I always forget about it because it’s not exactly me. It’s so plain. But it helps to tone down an outfit. It’s also very comfortable and light weight which is always a perfect layering piece during transition!

[ The Gap A store is now open in Newark – 141 Market Street ]

My experience with Feetomatic was simply amazing! I was able to help promote a growing small business and also educate myself on my city’s available programs.

If you’re a small business I wish all the luck in the world to you! Sometimes I’m scared to write a blog post for fear of mistakes or judgment. I can’t even imagine the risks involved in any start up. I strongly urge readers to get out there and support the local stores that are always there for you when you need them. After all, if we’re not there for them — they will cease to be there for us.


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