As an avid shopper, Ali McGrath of Ocean Township frequently searches the Shore for the best fashion finds.
I prefer to shop at smaller boutiques where the stuff is not mass produced and original, says McGrath, 38. I dont want to wear something that a bunch of others have on. I like to be unique. I dont like the malls, they stress me out. I shop in Asbury Park at some of their boutiques. I also find that Marshalls, while overwhelming, has great prices and choices that are different. I also like to shop in Red Bank — there are great consignment shops and cute stores again that have fun options.
So what if New Jersey doesnt have a Fifth Avenue or Rodeo Drive to call its own? The state does boast outdoor shopping centers which can provide a mix of upscale retailers with the great outdoors.
I like being able to walk from store to store and be outside in the fresh air, says McGrath, who also shops at The Grove in Shrewsbury.
The Grove at Shrewsbury
THE SETTING: With luscious landscaping and plenty to peruse through, The Grove describes itself as the nations first lifestyle center — designed with the sophisticated shopper in mind.
SHOP: Grab clothing and accessories at popular stores such as Anthropologie, Chicos, Free People, J. Crew, A Pea in the Pod, and Janie and Jack. For more activewear, shops such as Athleta and lululemon athletica are available.
Glow is a designer womens boutique with collections from Alexander Wang, Alice + Olivia, Phillip Lim, Elizabeth + James, and many more. Nirvana, which also has a location in Long Branchs Pier Village, can also be found here.
Find footwear at Aerosoles, Clarks Shoes, and Coach.
Neves Jeweler has a range of bridal and designer pieces, as well as watches and gifts.
Browse through many one-of-a-kind home furnishings at Chelsea, Country Curtains, Platypus and Pottery Barn. The Papery is filled with custom invitations and greeting cards, but also has a selection of journals, photo albums and leather accessories.
More accessible yet upscale stores include Ann Taylor, Brooks Brothers, Banana Republic, Eddie Bauer, Francescas Collections, Lucky Brand Jeans, and Victorias Secret.
TAKE A BREAK: Bluemercury is a luxury cosmetics retailer with spa services. Its an ideal way to unwind here after a few hours of shopping. Or, head to Warren Tricomi Salon for a new hairdo.
Grab a bite at djeet, an eatery with homemade soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers and more. The vegetables and herbs are often harvested from the Grove West Community Garden, according to The Groves website.
WHAT MAKES IT UNIQUE: After a day of shopping, slow down the pace and enjoy live music at 6 pm Saturdays.
MORE INFO: Store promotions can be found online at www.thegroveatshrewsbury.com. 597 Route 35, Shrewsbury; 732-530-1200.
Jersey Shore Premium Outlets, Tinton Falls
THE SETTING: This is outlet shopping at its finest, the outlets website states. Expect to save between 25 and 65 percent on big-name brands from clothing to home furnishings at the 120 stores.
SHOP: The designer fashions are endless — Michael Kors, 7 For All Mankind, Champion, Burberry, BCBG Max Azria, Elie Tahari, Kate Spade New York, and White House Black Market are just a small sample of the upscale brands.
Get shoes at places such as UGG Australia, Geox, Sperry Top-Sider, and Timberland.
Go big on accessories: Swarovski, Sunglass Hut, Time Factory Watch Outlet, Zales, Gold Toe, and Solstice Sunglass Outlet are where to get some fine items.
Show off your residence with furnishings from Corningware Corelle amp; More, Le Creuset and Waterford Crystal.
The specialty stores are helpful when seeking the perfect gift. Head to As Seen On TV, ItSugar Candy Store, Toys R Us Express, The Body Shop, Yankee Candle, The Cosmetics Company Store, and Crabtree and Evelyn.
We recently welcomed ASICS, Quiksilver, Wilsons Leather, Corningware Corelle amp; More, and Ruum Factory American Kids Wear to our store list and are excited to welcome Francescas (which opened July 26), Tumi on Aug. 21, and Nautica later this fall, says marketing director Michele Deroian.
TAKE A BREAK: Head to the outlets food court here, with options such as Asian Chao and Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen.
WHAT MAKES IT UNIQUE: Jersey Shore Premium Outlets provides a family-friendly shopping experience. In additional to great savings, we offer free live entertainment every Saturday and Sunday through Aug. 31 from noon to 3 pm in Sand Castle Court (weather permitting), says Deroian.
MORE INFO: 1 Premium Outlets Blvd., Tinton Falls; 732-918-1700 or www.premiumoutlets.com/jerseyshore.
Pier Village, Long Branch
THE SETTING: Steps away from the beach, Pier Village gives shoppers the laid back, breezy feel of a boardwalk while providing access to upscale boutiques.
SHOP: Womens apparel can be found at contemporary womens boutique Wish, and denim-driven specialty store Nirvana. Boutiques Fresh and Molly and Zoey are said to feature unique womens clothing. Molly and Zoey Undercover has quality clothing as its sister store, but at more reasonable prices.
Footwear is at Shoe Inn and Sneaker Factory. Surfers, head to Aloha Grove for all of boards and surfing apparel.
Get some fabulous accessories at Koi Boutique (which has an extensive Vera Bradley collection) and The Stone Hut. Visit Carter amp; Cavero, an olive oil company, for a tasting experience.
TAKE A BREAK: Watch the waves under the gazebo, and inhale the salty air. There are benches to take a seat and take in the scenery. On Thursdays in the summer, jam out to the weekly concert series titled Thursday by the Sea, when various musical artists perform.
To curb hunger, head to Turning Point until 3 pm, Bite Your Belgian or The Corner Cafe amp; Bistro. Enjoy finer dining once the shopping spree ceases at Sawa Steakhouse, Sirena Ristorante, McLoones Pier House and Avenue. Enjoy more casual fare at Michael Angelos Pizzeria, Stewarts, Its Greek to Me, Shaka and Red Orange. Grab sweet treats at frozen yogurt shop Red Mango, Cake Bake amp; Roll, and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
WHAT MAKES IT UNIQUE: Aside from its lounges — Indulge Lounge amp; Food Bar, The Wine Loft and Avenue — people can get services done such as at Golds Gym, or pamper yourself at Village Spa Nails amp; Hair. Its more than just an outdoor shopping mall; Pier Village can easily fill the day from dawn to dusk.
MORE INFO: 1 Chelsea Ave., Long Branch; www.piervillage.com.
Jackson Premium Outlets
THE SETTING: Easily accessed from Interstate 195 and right up the road from Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson Premium Outlets is a prime Ocean County shopping center. It boasts 70 stores — many of the same ones found at Jersey Shore Premium Outlets in Tinton Falls, since both centers are owned by Simon Property Group.
SHOP: With all stores being out in the open in a U-shape, start at Gap Factory Store and work your way through the outlets for the ultimate shopping experience.
A sample of designer clothing and sportswear stores include Aeropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Izod, Coach, Maidenform, New York amp; Company, Polo Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Wilsons Leather, Jones New York, and Under Armour.
Coach Factory Outlet is a must-do store here with eye-popping low prices. Other accessory and jewelry spots are Kay Jewelers Outlet, Sunglass Hut, Charlotte Russe and Fossil.
Home furnishings are available at Corningware Corelle amp; More and Kitchen Collection.
TAKE A BREAK: Indulge in the food court here, with favorites such as Nathans Famous, Wok amp; Roll, Sbarro and Haagen Dazs.
WHAT MAKES IT UNIQUE: Shoppers love finding incredible savings at their favorite stores, we recently welcomed American Eagle Outfitters, Jos. A. Bank, and Kitchen Collection to our store list, says marketing director Stephanie Weaver. Were also offering live music entertainment on Saturday, Aug. 17, from noon to 3 pm
MORE INFO: 537 Monmouth Road, Jackson; 732-833-0503 or www.premiumoutlets.com/jackson.
The Grove West, Shrewsbury
THE SETTING: One cant miss The Grove West. After all, its directly across the street from The Grove in Shrewsbury.
It carries significantly less retailers, but that doesnt make it one to skip out on.
SHOP: Make sure to stop at Tula-the-Boutique here, which is a womens boutique filled with casual and upscale fashions.
Our lines include AG Adriano denim, Nicole Miller, Joie, Stuart Weitzman shoes, MZ Wallace handbags, Tory Burch sunglasses and too many more to name, the store states online.
Billabongs sole New Jersey location is found here — peruse the variety of apparel and footwear for children, juniors, men and women. For a more active lifestyle, check out the wetsuits, surfboards, skateboards and snow wear for sale.
Men — young and adult — can head to Element, a clothing store that also sells luggage, watches, sunglasses and skateboards.
Loft is a fashion spot for womens regular and petite apparel, footwear and accessories.
The kids have a few places to call their own at Pottery Barn Kids, which focuses on furnishings for children up to age 12, and at Stride Rite for fashions.
Children can also hold birthday parties here, or can shop in the Sweet amp; Sassy boutique, which carries room decor, fashion accessories, bath products and gifts.
Head to Harmon Beauty Supply for all health and beauty needs.
TAKE A BREAK: Pops Garage is the place to be for some Mexican cuisine.
All of the Pops locations infuse surf, art, culture and community into their fun, savory fare, and aim to bring the laid-back cuisine and culture of Sayulita, Mexico, to New Jersey restaurant-goers, The Grove West website states.
WHAT MAKES IT UNIQUE: Pampering isnt limited to adults here. Sweet amp; Sassy has a childrens salon for hair, manicures, pedicures, ear piercing, spa and glam girl packages, according to The Grove West website.
MORE INFO: 540 Route 35, Shrewsbury; 732-933-8382 or www.grovewestnj.com.
Brooke 35 amp; Brook 35 West, Sea Girt
THE SETTING: Head to this two-in-one outdoor shopping center for a solid mix of dining and retail therapy.
SHOP: If in the market for apparel fashions, Ann Taylor, The Bee, Banana Republic, Talbots, and Coldwater Creek, Banana Republic and Gap are a sample of what youll find. Childrens apparel is at Baby Gap, Claires, Gap Kids and Gymboree.
Beauty retailers include Blush and Bath amp; Body Works. ELAN Hair Studio is also in this strip to refresh your look. Williams-Sonoma Grande Cuisine and The Papery are both at this center with some fabulous home furnishings.
TAKE A BREAK: Eating options include Chipotle Mexican Grill, Michael Angelos, Turning Point Restaurant and Starbucks.
WHAT MAKES IT UNIQUE: Teacher get the star treatment here, with discounts available for educators. Check the website for details.
MORE INFO: 2150 Highway 35, Sea Girt; 732-933-8382 or www.brook35plaza.com.
THE TOP 10
Part of the Top 100 US Retailers for 2014
5. Home Depot
7. CVS Caremark
Source: National Retail Federation
WORLDS 12 BEST SHOPPING CITIES
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Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Buens Aires, Argentina
Hong Kong, China
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
London, United Kingdom
New York City, New York
BROADEN YOUR HORIZONS: SPOTS WORTH VISITING
TANGER OUTLETS: 2014 Baltic Ave., Atlantic City;
609-344-0095 or www.tangeroutlet.com/atlanticcity
PALMER SQUARE, PRINCETON: 40 Nassau St., Princeton;
609-921-2333 or www.palmersquare.com
BRIDGEWATER COMMONS: 400 Commons Way No. 243, Bridgewater;
877-486-4756 or www.bridgewatercommons.com
PARAMUS PARK MALL: 700 Paramus Park, Paramus;
201-261-8000 or www.paramuspark.com
THE PIER SHOPS AT CAESARS: 1 Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic City;
609-345-3100 or www.thepiershopsatcaedars.com
JERSEY GARDENS: 651 Kapkowski Road, Elizabeth;
908-354-5900 or www.jerseygardens.com
THE MALL AT SHORT HILLS: 1200 Morris Turnpike, Short Hills;
973-376-7350 or www.shopshorthills.com
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