Think small

Shopping at Bayonne’s small businesses helps customers, merchants, and the city

Black Friday, the most publicized shopping day of the year, traditionally launches the holiday shopping season. Bayonne officials and merchants encourage consumers to patronize small businesses in town.
While this weekend sets off a frenzy at big-box and chain stores, it’s also a time to remember that the search for those perfect gifts can begin right here in Bayonne at the local businesses along Broadway, at Route 440 shopping centers, and at other areas throughout the city.
Bayonne Chamber of Commerce President Matt Dorans says small businesses and local shops are the backbone of the United States’ economy, especially the local economy.
“People shop locally as a convenience, but a local establishment understands the needs of the local consumer,” he said. “They may offer products and services tailored to those needs. The big stores don’t have that capability.”
Alfred Stancampiano agrees with Dorans’s assessment that local businesses can give consumers that personal touch. And he should know. Along with his brother, Richard, he has successfully run Al Richards Chocolates at 851 Broadway for almost 35 years.
“Customers never get the service that they get from a local vendor,” Stancampiano said. “A franchise store is managed by a manager. A small business is managed by the owner. And there’s no comparison to the service an owner will give you compared to a manager.”


“People shop locally as a convenience, but a local establishment understands the needs of the local consumer.” – Matt Dorans

Kamila Lula-Mendes of Max Five Star Furniture said her store prides itself on local relationships. Although Max Five, at 531 Broadway, delivers furniture throughout the tri-state area, about 90 percent of her customers are in Bayonne and Jersey City.
“We’re right here in the heart of Bayonne, and catering to our community, we offer free delivery and setups for Bayonne and Jersey City, as well as free furniture removal,” she said. “A lot of people charge for that, but we don’t, because we appreciate the local patronage.”
Dorans said there are many other reasons that local stores have an edge over bigger stores or franchises. He pointed to Bayonne’s increasing diversity, which has affected buying habits over the last 20 years.
“Small stores have items that are unique to their cultures,” he said. “You have a lot of different cultures in Bayonne, and a lot of those cultural items you can’t necessarily get anywhere else but those local shops.”

Helping the stores and city

By shopping in Bayonne, residents and visitors also help keep businesses on Broadway from struggling, and assist them in keeping their doors open.
The city also benefits from shopping local. Dorans said that because the stores pay property taxes, it keeps the city tax base intact and helps to stabilize taxes.
Lula-Mendes mentioned that keeping Bayonne’s business district solvent is also something on her mind as she runs her business.
Said Lula-Mendes: “Living in Bayonne many years, and shopping locally all my adult life in Bayonne, it’s very, very important to me as a Bayonne resident to keep our businesses local and see Bayonne flourish.”

Members of the community

Chris Cocchi of the Mona Lisa Pizzeria & Restaurant at 165 Broadway said that besides offering quality products and affordable prices, local businesses are part of the fabric of the community.
“I employ 25 people, and 90 percent of them are from Bayonne,” Cocchi said. “We live in Bayonne. We give back to the community.” Sponsoring teams in local baseball, softball, and soccer leagues, hosting a discounted dine-out night for a local grammar school, and giving food donations to charities on a weekly basis are among those contributions.
Stancampiano agrees.
“As a part of the community, we give back,” he said. “Our kids go to school here. We shop here. We come face to face with our neighbors that we do business with. A franchise doesn’t do that. So we’re far more responsive to the community than a franchise would be.”
Dorans concurs that merchants being part of the community benefits local shoppers.
“There’s something to be said for knowing who the people are you’re doing business with,” he said.

Joseph Passantino may be reached at

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