This week I took a "me" day and decided to drive to the historic town of Chester, NJ. Chester is only approximately 20 minutes away from me, but I have never ever really walked the historical shopping area. It's been weeks since I've had a good local adventure, so I took advantage of the 50 degree day we had on Wednesday. As the weather has gotten colder, my outdoor hiking ventures have sadly died down quite a bit - as I don't feel as inclined to go freeze my butt off. I have driven through Chester many times, and always thought it was the cutest little town upon passing by. It's a small strip of shops, but I feel like there is so much to see. I spent 4-5 hours just walking around looking at everything and taking it all in. I also have been binge-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix, and it very much so felt like a visit to Stars Hollow.. haha.
The first place I went was the Country Christmas Shop. When it isn't the holiday season, this building is typically "Pleasant Pools" - selling pool supplies and outdoor things during the warmer months. I wasn't looking to buy anything particular, but have always loved looking at holiday shops / markets around this time of year. There were a ton of cute ornaments and a huge array of various decorations. They also had a selection of vintage nutcrackers that I drooled over. The man at the front register came up to me and told me that he liked my shirt. I was wearing a Coney Island shirt, and he started telling me that his son (or nephew? I don't remember..) went to school somewhere in Brooklyn, and I told him that I had graduated from Pratt. It was a nice conversation, and he (like many of the shopkeepers in the town) was very pleasant. I ended up leaving without buying anything, but he wished me well and good luck with my future endeavors on my way out.
Next, I came across Boehs Cabinet Shop. They had the cutest storefront from the outside, and that definitely drew me in. It was a wood shop filled with handmade wooden treasures. I saw a small beautiful wooden box that I almost bought for $12, but decided to refrain as I couldn't think of what I would put in it… lol. I also couldn't justify spending $12 on something as small as maybe 1.5 in. What does one put inside something that small? I thought to myself maybe rings… like 3 rings, haha… but I don't even own any nice rings. It would have been a nice gift, but no one specific came to mind - so I decided to move on. I left without buying anything, but was glad I stepped inside for the short amount of time that I did.
I wandered a bit more and walked into various other shops that I don't recall by name. It was all a bit overwhelming and a bit of a blur upon looking back at it, haha. I saw a bunch of crafts and other handmade goods. There was even a gazebo where the town Christmas tree was lit… very Stars Hollow-y if you ask me. ;)
I came across a stained glass place where I gawked at the pretty things I definitely couldn't afford. The person at the register was busy taking care of another customer, so luckily I didn't feel guilty for buying nothing. I walked into this other store that sold bath and body products where I tried this clementine shea butter lotion that smelled pretty good. The man at the register was very friendly and told me where some of the lotions were made. He also showed me where the clearance items were (lol) - I guess I looked like a girl on a budget… ha. I remember walking into a couple "antique" shops, but not feeling satisfied with the selection of things… as they seemed sparse… but they were still fun to walk through. I saw this rug at one place that I thought about getting for myself because I was in love with the colors… but then told myself I didn't need a rug and that it wasn't worth the 50 something dollars it was marked.
I walked around back to some of the shops that weren't along the main road and came across the Black River Candy Shoppe. I had been there once before (years ago), but I still decided to go inside. They have a huge variety of candy and sweet treats, and I love that they have some older candy that you can't find in supermarkets or stores like Target / Walmart. I came across these mini Santa sacks of bubble gum and decided to buy one because the way it was packaged was too cute. I refrained from buying anything else… but I could have easily walked out with several pounds of diabetes.
Around the corner from the Candy Shoppe, I was happily surprised to find a quaint little gardening place called Bountiful Gardens. This was one my favorite shops that I stumbled upon. Although I didn't buy anything, I took my time looking at everything and was blown away by how much the small place housed. The outdoor garden center had so many cute little odds and ends, and I really loved the purple cabbages and almost bought one. I recently acquired a couple succulents and cacti, and have been looking to grow my small collection - but decided against it mostly because I didn't know where else I would be going after this stop and didn't want to be carrying a plant with me. I had a good laugh over this bird house labeled the "hoe house" … haha. After browsing outside, I went inside and there was an older woman at the counter. I was the only one there, and I felt a bit awkward because she didn't strike up a conversation with me and it was silent the entire time I browsed. On my way out, I told her that she had such a beautiful array of plants there, and she got very excited and I think it made her day, lol. :)
Last, I stopped in at Pegasus Antiques - which had to my surprise opened their door for business! Earlier in the day, I had walked past the place and I could have sworn that there was a "for sale" sign on the door or on the lawn. When I discovered that they were open on my second walk-by, I was so thrilled and excited to go inside. It looked huge from the outside. There was also a sign on the outside that said "OPEN - browsers welcome!" - just my kinda store (haha)! It was nice to feel like it was okay to just be looking (without the pressures of the shopkeepers trying to talk you into buying something).
I was in love with this wooden box on the front porch that had some beautiful old typography on it… and I would have totally bought it, but it was expensive due to the size that it was. :( When I walked inside, I was so overwhelmed. My theory that the place was huge was an understatement! Every inch of the place was covered in antiques. It reminded me a whole lot of Mrs. Kim's antiques shop on Gilmore Girls, haha. I didn't know where to begin, and I must have spent an hour or so looking at everything. I'm pretty sure the place was a house that was converted into a shop. Behind the counter was an older couple - who honestly probably lived upstairs or something - although I didn't ask. I was in awe over everything: tin tea boxes, glass bottles, vintage toys, old records, pottery, signs… the list goes on and on. There was even a basement section, and at the bottom of the stairs I basically shit my pants over the creepy mannequin that was standing there.
I ended up buying two things from Pegasus Antiques: a small yellow piece of pottery that was marked as being from colonial Williamsburg ($9) and a small glass vessel ($2). I have a thing for ceramics and glass bottles… and I could have totally bought more but decided to refrain. ;) I really hope that they aren't closing… that would be so sad. I definitely hope to go back! The couple wished me happy holidays on the way out.
It was warm enough for something cold, so I ended my trip with a stop at Taylor's Ice Cream Parlor. (Taylor Doose is that you?) I absolutely love local ice cream shops - as their flavors are much more diverse than chains such as Dairy Queen or Friendly's. I treated myself to a small cone of toasted coconut and ate it in the car because I felt awkward being the only customer eating indoors, and didn't want to sit awkwardly outside by myself on the bench either… lol. It was only $3, and it was totally worth every penny!
Over all, it was a super productive and fulfilling day! I was happy with the few things that I did purchase, proud of myself for not buying everything in sight, and ultimately so glad that I decided to venture out and explore the town on my own. It's not the most well-designed website haha, but you can go to ilovechester.com for more details on what the town has to offer if you are ever visiting the area!