Homestead Princeton, Offering Furniture and Gifts, is an Independently-Owned Family Business
SHOPPING SPECIALTIES : “We wanted to expand the space, and we want to be a destination place, where customers can come to find a great selection of furniture, including our signature barnwood tables, as well as a variety of gifts of all kinds.” Kristin and Ron Menapace, owners of Homestead Princeton, are delighted to offer customers an intriguing selection of holiday shopping opportunities.
By Jean Stratton
As the song says, “We need a little Christmas…,” and perhaps now more than ever during this year of our discontent.
And indeed, Christmas has come to Homestead Princeton at 300 Witherspoon Street.
Decorated trees, holiday displays, Santas and snowmen, angels and elves, fragrant candles and musical snow globes — and more — all capture the season at this very inviting store.
“I think people are starting to decorate earlier this year,” says co-owner Kristin Menapace. “They want their house to be special and festive, especially now with the virus.”
They will certainly find an enticing holiday display at Homestead Princeton, which moved to its current location last August. Formerly the home of the Princeton Packet, the building was remodeled to showcase the wide range of Homestead Princeton’s merchandise.
“The move to this location is the natural evolution for our brand,” points out co-owner Ron Menapace. “The building has been rehabbed and reimagined to reflect Homestead Princeton’s design-forward aesthetic. Repurposing this building celebrates our legacy of salvaging lumber from historic structures to make our signature barnwood furniture.
“Since its initial opening in 2012, Homestead Princeton has established itself as New Jersey’s premier independent gift and home furnishings destination,” he adds.
It has become known for affordable high quality furniture, including its signature in-house brand of custom one-of-a-kind furniture crafted from vintage barnwood. Its selection, including sofas and chairs in addition to the reclaimed barnwood choices, is a big attraction at the store.
The store preserves the legacy of old barns by giving them a second life. Due in part to its socially responsible and sustainable practices, Homestead Princeton is the one furniture store in New Jersey recognized as a “Sustainable Business” by the New Jersey Sustainable Business Initiative (NJSBI).
“Also, people are working from home more now, and we have custom storage options, as well as cabinets and shelves,” points out Kristin.
Confidence and Courage
The store also offers an interior design service, and has been recognized by a number of publications for its quality and expertise. It has been named “Best of NJ” by New Jersey Monthly as Best Home Decor Store. In 2017, Home Accents Today honored the store as one of its 50 Retail Stars, the only store in New Jersey so honored.
Moving to a new and larger space in the middle of a pandemic required both confidence and courage.
“We like the idea of being on Witherspoon Street where you can find a real variety of shops and places to stop in for coffee and just take a break. We had previously been closed from March to June 15th, but we were fortunate that customers accessed our website, and we could offer online opportunities,” reports Kristin. “We had customers from all over, including California. Some of them had found us when they visited Princeton, and others were people who had lived here, but then moved.
“We are set apart by the items that inspire us and our customers. They can be functional or fanciful, and I think people enjoy coming in to see everything we have. Ron and I look forward to finding that special piece and bringing it to the store.”
Indeed, Ron and Kristin Menapace have always emphasized imagination and creativity in the decor, design, and gifts that they offer customers. This sense of imagination and creativity is evident throughout the store.
In addition, recycling and repurposing are important, and this is reflected in a number of recycled items at the store. For example, a well-used (and ridden) bicycle has been given new life as a table, with the addition of a specially placed board; putters from the golf course are now transformed into bottle openers; and a vintage football is still a vintage football, but its age reflects another era, when it was the focus of a long ago game. A tiny model toy car was recycled from the real thing.
The husband and wife team is very encouraged by the numbers of customers who have continued to come to the store during the pandemic.
“Since we have reopened, they have been really enthusiastic about the new space,” says Kristin. “Everyone is very careful, wears masks, and I think they believe it is important for them to shop locally and support the hometown stores. ‘Shop Local’ is vital. This is especially true as the businesses have coped with the virus, and, of course, with the continuing challenge of online competition.
“We are part of the Business Downtown program, where with a $20 investment, you will receive a 10 percent discount from the participating stores. Many of the downtown stores are taking part.
“Our customers are wonderful, and come from Princeton and the surrounding area. They have been very loyal, and we have lots of repeat shoppers.”
Homestead Princeton is noted for its unique selection of handcrafted artisan gifts, pottery, glass, wood, textiles, home decor, and jewelry. In addition, it sets a priority on customer service, emphasizing friendly, knowledgeable help and advice from its staff.
The opportunities for holiday gift-giving (or for any season) abound. Among the best-sellers are the geographical dish towels, glasses, and pillows featuring designs of different cities, states, and colleges.
Along with the snowmen and Santas, gnomes are very popular for the holidays, reports Kristin. “We have an assortment, including long-legged beanbag-style gnomes wearing colorful hats that can perch on a shelf or mantel. We also have them in ornaments, salt and pepper shakers, and night lights.”
Scented candles in all shapes and sizes (including milk bottles!) are big holiday favorites, especially the Frasier Fir candles, with their aromatic holiday aroma.
Santa and snowmen holiday gourds are also on display, as are rainbow ornaments, handcrafted magnets, and charming Nativity scenes, handcarved of wood from the Holy Land.
The selection of items is really amazing. Customers need to spend time to browse or else risk missing a surprise around a corner. Glassware, fish-shaped pitchers that actually “gurgle” when filled with water, clocks and candy, note cards and greeting cards, wind chimes and butter dishes, and cookbooks and artwork from local artists … the list goes on.
A large cheese board in holiday red and green offers this sentiment: “It’s not what’s under the tree that matters; it’s who’s gathered around it.”
Socks are a big item and they are in all colors and designs, including holiday motifs. Novelty versions include faces of celebrities, such as the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Fun carved wooden ducks from England are notable for wearing boots, as well as their cheeky style.
Unusual laser-cut baskets in assorted designs from a Maine artist will make a welcome gift, and for those who look forward to a holiday libation, the store offers a “Bar Open” section. Wine glasses, bar supplies, and a special beer map wall decoration, featuring a montage of local breweries, are all on display.
Picture frames of all kinds, mugs, pet-related items, soaps in different sizes and scents, including holly, and — a necessity today — a selection of children’s and adult masks, including holiday motif — are all appealing shopping choices.
Lovely scarves, and colorful jewelry in all styles — bracelets, necklaces, and more — are offered at many price points. Fun bracelets at $1.99 are great stocking stuffers.
Toys, including stuffed animals, are also available, and a charming baby section offers wonderful items for the tiniest tots. The softest “cosies” —snuggly and comfy — with little animal designs and rattles within are irresistible, and a Sweet Dreams spray can be spritzed onto a pillow and is another perfect stocking stuffer. A number of handprint items are also offered, and most unusual is the cylindrical birth certificate holder,
Homestead Princeton has a very wide price range, from $1.99 to hundreds of dollars for furniture and everything in between. Many items are in the $20-$25 range. Gift cards and complimentary gift packaging are also available.
“I think we have a unique, fun store where you can find something for everyone. Special gifts, something different, and a little ‘pick-me-up’ for yourself,” says Kristin Menapace. “We really feel that Homestead Princeton is like no other store in Princeton.
“Also, we live in the community, and we support the community. This is important to us. Now we just have to get the word out so that even more people can come to see our new location.”
In addition to Homestead Princeton’s special merchandise and setting, its convenient parking right at the store is another reason customers are enthusiastic.
The store is open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hours are expected to be extended during the holiday shopping season. There is also a special hour set aside from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. for customers who prefer a more private shopping experience.
For more information, call (609) 688-0777. Website: homesteadprinceton.com.