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Five Things We Want To Buy In Verona

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Let's build something!
Let's build something!

Once upon a time, a time not all that long ago, you could buy just about everything you needed within walking distance from your house in Verona. There was a department store (Evenson’s) and two grocery stores, a movie theater and a hardware store (run by the father of Soprano’s creator David Chase). Malls and the Internet have reshaped our shopping habits, but there are things we’d still love to buy locally.

Now we know that some folks insist that the lack of close-in parking makes it hard to shop Verona or attract new businesses. But having just had to park half-way to Little Falls just to shop at Willowbrook, we think things at home aren’t all that bad.

So, if any of Verona’s commercial landlords are reading, here are five things we can’t now buy in Verona that we’d like to see on Bloomfield Avenue in the coming year.

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1) A kid’s shoe store. Just imagine not having to schlepp the entire family to a big-box store only to discover that it has none of the sizes you need in stock. Enough said.

2) A Thai restaurant. Or Middle Eastern. Or Caribbean. Or Greek. Why should Montclair have all the dining fun? Why can’t Verona have as hot a restaurant scene as Bloomfield?

3) A bike shop. With all the kids here, Verona could be a great biking town. But we shouldn’t have to cross town lines to have the brakes tuned or a new inner tube installed.

4) A book store. Yes, Verona Library is looking spiffier than it has in decades thanks to some new landscaping. But even in the age of Kindle, a good bookstore really puts a town on the map. A used bookstore would be fine, by the way.

5) Destination retail. Imagine the old Brunner’s auto dealership at the corner of Bloomfield Avenue and Verona Place as a Trader Joe’s or a Lego Store. Imagine something that would make people from other towns want to do more than just speed through on Bloomfield Avenue. It is possible; we just have to ask for it.

What do you want to buy here? What are you buying here already?

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]

18 COMMENTS

  1. I would love a family friendly art studio for painting or making pottery, jewelry classes, or summer art camp. The MAM is close enough but quite pricey and parking on Church Street in Montclair for Doin’ Dishes is even more challenging than parking in Verona. The deck helps, but even that gets crowded. And, if we can walk to the Towne Scoope or the post office, we can walk to a hands-on art studio which makes parking a non-issue 7-8 months out of the year. For the record, I would support a book store or a Trader Joe’s in a heartbeat!

  2. Don’t forget about the Bond’s on Bloomfield Avenue or United Cigars stationary store. Yes, and there was a Shop Rite right next to Evenson’s. And also, we do miss Danny’s bike shop.

  3. I miss the awful awful at Bonds Ice Cream too. I worked at Evenson’s after school and remember the construction when they expanded into the old shop rite. And yes, we all miss Danny’s next to the Post Office. After school (Junior High) I always stopped at the auto parts store on Bloomfield Ave to buy a .10 bottle of coke from the old coke machine before climbing up Clairmont Ave heading to Elmwood Rd. Great site Virgina!!!

  4. Thanks for the kind words Karl. I find it funny that everybody remembers the ShopRite in the center of town but me. Maybe because my mom went to the A&P (now the big used car lot for all you newbies). And every time I have to go to the mall, I wish we had Evenson’s back.

  5. It was 558 Bloomfield Ave. There was a doctor’s office there for many years after Bond’s closed, but it’s back again to being a restaurant: Avenue Bistro Pub (we’ll have a review soon). And there’s still a connection between Bond’s and ice cream in Verona. Jack O’Neil, who was one of the original Bond’s Verona waiters, was instrumental in the creation of Towne Scoop on Park Place. It even has Bond’s photos and memorabilia.

  6. Trader Joe’s! Yes!
    I also miss the Celentano store, but not so much after the appearance of Calandra’s right up the road.

  7. When I was a freshman at VHS I was a waitress at Bond’s – it then turned into the Charcol Pit – that’s when I left and gift wrapped for Jules Terry until I graduated. The store I own at 678 Bloomfield Ave. also has many memories for me – my Mom & Dad bought their house in Verona in 1953 out of that building when it was Cavalier Insurance & Real Estate – then I bought my first bicycle from Danny’s Bike Shop that was there- many years later my son frequented often (probably paid part of the rent!!) for the Sports Card shop that was there and now I own Main St. Cottage. Pretty amazing.

  8. I have a vague memory of your store as a bike shop because we used the bike shop at the other end of town. (Can you believe it: Verona once had two bike shops). But I remember your store more as the doll shop that Mary Monaghan’s mom ran.

  9. Hi Virginia, Thank you and your readership for the kind words about Evenson’s, it seems as if it was an eternity ago. By the way, Shop Rite was first a Kings Super Market and that building was erected before we built our building at 569 Bloomfield Ave. Evenson’s was originally at 555 where Salon 555 is now located and in fact was about one third smaller for a long time. Also, in the 1930s I lived in the back of 555 with my parents behind a curtain which separated our living quarters from the store itself. For those of you who remember, my mother Bernice Evenson is still going strong at age 98 and lives in Boca Raton, Florida. Continued success with your news articles and regards to the family, Rolfe Evenson

  10. for some reason, i began thinking about the Evenson store in Verona a few weeks ago. I am glad I found this site. I remember Bonds (one of my neighbors, Rich Liedtke) held the record for drinking those huge shakes they made. I also remember Verona music as the site of my first guitar and drum lessons, the bike shop and most of the other places mentioned above. I always liked going into Evenson’s, since I was young, I remember the store as huge.

    Thanks for the history lesson and bringing back some good memories

  11. Rolfe, I don’t know if you would remember me but I worked for you and Don during the building extension into the Shop-rite. I really enjoyed working there and that was my very first part time job. I remember Gay Williams and I think his name was Nate? Anywho, How have you been? How’s everyone doing? E-mail me [email protected]

  12. Rolfe,

    I dont know if you remenber me. In 1971, I staied in Verona, as a Student Exchange, from Brazil.

    It was a long time, almost 40 years, and I had never get back to USA.

    The next Abril, me my wife Beth, and my son Breno, will travel to America, Orlando and New York.

    Maybe we’ll have a chance to meet.

    Ildeu

  13. I have a question – I grew up in Verona – went to the (new) VHS, graduated and left Verona in 1961 – when did the Bonds on Bloomfield Ave open? The only one I ever heard of (or went to) was on valley Road in Upper Montclair … I THINK there was also one in Springfield, but that was too much of a trek.

    Thanks to all

    PeteH

  14. Pete,

    The short answer is that it opened after you left. But I’ll see if I can get a more precise date for you. By the way, the building that houses the Bond’s in Montclair is long gone, replaced by a really ugly office building.

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