BACK ON THE RACKS

Longbranch, NJ 

I had the pleasure of interviewing Christine, owner of Back on the Racks.

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Morissa: Tell me about your career path and what led you to become a small business owner in the coastal community.

Christine: I grew up at the Jersey Shore, my family moved from Brooklyn to New Jersey when I was in the 2nd grade.   When I was a kid my mother would take us to this consignment store in Fair Haven called The Attic. It was a fun experience to sort through the racks of one of a kind items, things you couldn’t find at the mall. It just always stuck in my head, that I’d love to one day own a consignment store.  Once I began working I started out in retail but have done many different jobs.

It was my last couple of jobs that pushed me to pursue my dream. I experienced working for a company that went out of business. It felt awful to not have any control over what happened. I was approaching my 50’s and felt like if I didn’t pursue my dream now it would never happen. So, I decided that I’d roll the dice and take a chance to become a business owner by opening my own consignment store.

Naturally, I drove around Monmouth County to find the perfect location to open my consignment store. That’s when I saw the sign on the door of my first store in West End. I’m still in this plaza today, but, now have 3 stores in the same plaza. I never thought it would grow to where it is today. Expanding from just women’s to now offering Furniture, Home décor and Children’s. One of my favorite bosses told me what he thought was the secret to a successful business, “hard work, timing and luck”, so true!IMG_3911

Your business is very eco-friendly by recycling clothes and furniture and repurposing them.  What can other members of the community do to ‘stay green’?

One person’s trash is definitely, another person’s treasure. At Back on the Racks we enjoy educating our customer’s on how they can consign items they no longer want or need and make some money too. I would encourage everyone to think before you throw away a shirt that they no longer like or put some furniture out to the curb. Someone else may want to wear or use it.

What is your personal philosophy on being a successful small business owner?

I think as a small business owner you need to keep your eye on everything in the business, but also be able to let go some of the control so that you aren’t working in the business but working on the business.IMG_3912

 Why should Monmouth University students and other young people especially ‘shop small?’

Small businesses directly impact the community, because we purchase from other small local businesses for lunch, insurance, printing, cleaning, repairs, and the list goes on and on. I don’t think that big companies like Walmart are having their printing done at a local Mom and Pop company.

Who has inspired/inspires you?

I try to surround myself with people that inspire me daily. But, I’d say the person that gave me the courage to pursue my dreams would be my father. My Dad never told me I couldn’t do it, he always would be tell me just do it and he’d even help me do it!

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Have you learned any important lessons from your experiences as a small business owner?

I’ve learned so many lessons as a small business owner. I’d say the most important one is to not let a bad situation define your future. Learn from it and move on. Also, try not take yourself too seriously, you have to be able to laugh at yourself.

How do you best connect to your customers and the coastal community?

Social media has been a great way for us to effectively engage with our customers. It’s so important as a business owner to keep up with the way your customers are getting their information.

Visit Back on the Racks’ Facebook and website.

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Is there anything else you’d like to add?

To anyone considering starting a business today I’d suggest you stalk the business you want to start and try to do a better job at it. Because as they say, ‘if you are doing something that you enjoy, you never work a day in your life.’  But I’ve also been told that I mess up every quote, so don’t quote me on this one.

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FAQs

  • WHAT IS THE GOAL OF COASTAL NJ SMALL BUSINESS? 

The main idea here is to engage readers in the mantra that ‘shopping at small businesses is good for the environment and supportive of the community at large.’

  • WHAT KINDS OF BUSINESSES DO YOU FEATURE?

We feature small businesses on the NJ Coast who are committed to eco-friendliness.

  • WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE ECO-FRIENDLY?

Being eco-friendly can mean a lot of things, but they all center around the theme of being conscious of the environment and doing what you can to preserve it. Conserve Energy Future describes eco-friendliness as “focused on not creating harm to environment, and to prevent as much harm from occurring to the environment through your interactions with it.”

For a clearer idea of what you can do to ‘go green’ check out BioFriendly’s Blog post of 50 Ways to Make Your Life More Environmentally Friendly. 

  • WHAT AREAS OF NJ DO YOU COVER?

Coastal NJ: Keansburg, Aberdeen, Long Branch, Red Bank, Asbury Park, Highlands, and more.

  • WHAT ARE THE MAIN OBJECTIVES OF THIS WEBSITE?
  1. To introduce the community to the idea that ‘shopping at small businesses is good for the environment and supportive of the community at large
  2. To motivate students to “shop locally”
  3. To help sustain the coastal community though promotion of local businesses
  4. To highlight businesses in coastal towns with sustainable business practices
  5. To engage the community (Monmouth with downtown/Urban Coast)
  • WHO IS YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE?

Monmouth University students, the Coastal NJ community, and small businesses.

  • WHAT TYPE OF CONTENT CAN I EXPECT FROM THIS WEBSITE?

We will feature various small businesses in the NJ coastal area who are attentive to environmental issues.

  • WHY IS ‘SHOPPING SMALL’ IMPORTANT?

Shopping small supports the community and the environment through locally produced products, less pollution, and a friendlier service at each shop. Learn more about this and the science behind it on our Mission Page.

  • CAN I FIND YOU ON SOCIAL MEDIA?

Yes, follow us on Twitter @SmallCoastalNJ and like us on Facebook .

  • WHO SUPPORTS THIS WEBSITE?

We are made possible by the Urban Coast Institute at Monmouth University.

  • I WOULD LIKE YOU TO FEATURE MY SMALL BUSINESS OR HAVE A QUESTION/COMMENT REGARDING THIS WEBSITE. WHO CAN I CONTACT?

You may contact Morissa at MorissaSchwartz@gmail.com.

 

 

About Morissa

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My experience with small businesses and the good they do for the environment and community motivated me to start this website with support from the Urban Coast Institute (UCI). My parents are the owners of a small business, The Carpet Maven, and I grew up with the knowledge of the good that a small business can do for a community. From the time I was a week old, I began visiting my parents’ store.

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This was Main Street the day after I was born.

I learned how they impacted the community and how other small businesses like them give back. For example, when Hurricane Sandy hit, my parents opened a temporary small location on the coast with discounted prices to aid the flood victims. Small businesses tend to be very community-minded like this, while also being photoenvironmental assets. For this reason, I have always shopped small and encourage others to as well. You don’t often get the personalized service, friendliness, specialty products, or sense of community in a corporate chain store that you do in a small business like Unique or Smileys. And those large stores certainly do not care about the environmental conditions of the community the same way that small businesses do.

 

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Some of my best memories took place on Main Street on days like this.

This is why I started my own publishing company, GenZ Publishing, as a part of the small business model in support of the community. Small business as a means of supporting a greener environment is truly something I believe in. I live in Monmouth County and support the small shops of the Urban Coast often. It would be rewarding to showcase them in a way that shows others how and why they should support these business people and what they stand for.

I may have grown up with small businesses, but most of my peers have not, and they have yet to experience the community and opportunities that come with them. My mission is to enlighten them through this project. By connecting with local businesses, students may also be granted new opportunities, including job and community connections, by making connections with small businesses that they would not have otherwise done. It will also motivate them to be more community-minded. Because locally owned businesses are so personable, students can have real connection with their shop owners and learn from them. You can learn more about me and my mission on my website MorissaSchwartz.com.

This website is thanks to the Urban Coast Institute at Monmouth University.

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Mission

The mission of Coastal NJ Small Business is to bring attention to the sustainable small businesses in NJ, especially to college students who may not be as familiar with the rich history and importance of main streets and their importance to the community and the environment. ‘Shopping small’ is a great way that we can take part in being environmentally friendly and community-minded.

The Main Idea

We focus on bringing attention to shopping at small businesses, as it is good for the environment and supportive of the community at large. Shopping small creates a sense of community and is what helps a local area, like the Urban Coast, to thrive.

The Science Behind It

The positive changes that occur as a result of people ‘shopping small’ have been scientifically proven. When an individual supports a small business, they help the environment. They travel less, thus emitting less pollution in addition to less congestion. This has even been shown in scientific studies, including “Neighborhood Stores: An overlooked strategy for fighting global warming” by Stacy Mitchell, who states, “Independent, community-serving businesses are people-sized. They typically consume less land, carry more locally-made products, locate closer to residents and create less traffic and air pollution.” Another example is even the ‘shop small’ tote bag initiative, where many small businesses give customers free fabric tote bags instead of plastic bags to thwart the effects of plastic waste on the environment. Locally owned shops tend to be more

The science does not lie: small businesses help to build communities, while keeping the environment green. The SBA even has a webpage devoted to this idea. Additionally, Census.gov released information stating that small businesses have generated over 65% of the net new jobs since 1995. This is another reason why supporting these businesses is important: they give back to us all in many ways.

Another example is even the ‘shop small’ tote bag initiative, where many small businesses give customers free fabric tote bags instead of plastic bags to thwart the effects of plastic waste on the environment. Locally owned shops tend to be more ecofriendly, from locally grown produce to candles cultivated from beeswax.  They often have locally grown or manufactured products, which save the environment while also making their prices more affordable for university students.  Small businesses are very conscious of being environmentally green and encourage their customers to follow suit. The urban coast needs and deserves attention to its environment and the future of its ecosystem.

Media

Speaking about CoastalNJSmallbusiness.com at Monmouth University’s Urban Coast Institute discussion.

On Monmouth University

On the website’s future

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At Coastal NJ Small Business, our mission is to bring attention to small businesses on the NJ Coast who are promoting sustainability within their businesses.

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(via Urban Coast Institute)

We will feature businesses in towns including Keansburg, Aberdeen, Long Branch, Asbury Park, the Highlands, and more that are eco-friendly and independently owned.

Stay tuned for our first featured business!

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(via TalkRoute)