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Exploring Downtown Newton

Jennifer Jean Miller

Sunday, July 21, 2013 • 3:14pm

NEWTON, NJ - Recently, a sidewalk sale took place in downtown Newton over a period of three days.

Downtown Newton is one of the rare places in Sussex County with a centralized area that still has that old-fashioned, hometown U.S.A., downtown feel.
 
The quaint downtown with its focal point, Spring Street, is filled with interesting nooks and crannies in terms of specialty shops, art galleries, and restaurants which the public is able to explore.
 
In addition, the town of Newton has a growing cultural area, as a community where artists can also engage in creation and participate in various hands-on workshops. Inner Designs by Robin Lennon is home to the Inner Artist Society and The Springboard Shoppes has planned an open studio where local artists can come and work with other artists of all experience levels. The Sussex County Arts & Heritage Council gallery is also headquartered on Spring Street, and is a place where artworks from local artists is showcased year round. 
 
Downtown Newton also possesses a nostalgic feel, with many of the buildings still adorned with their original facades and architecture from the late 1800s and early 1900s. There is a mix of that period design, assimilated with buildings constructed in the mid-20th century, flanked by some construction from the end our last century.
 
Another downtown treasure is the historic Newton Theatre. Constructed in the early 1920s, the original theater held close to 1,000 seats and featured vaudeville, stage and livestock shows where attendees from around the region flocked. Following that, The Newton Theatre became a cinema, eventually breaking down into two smaller theaters. The theater changed hands several times before shutting down. It was given a new life, however, nearly two years ago, when new owners banded together to create a premier concert destination. For example, yesterday evening, cars not only filled Spring Street, and the parking lots surrounding it, they packed nearby Trinity Street, when Lyle Lovett & His Acoustic Group came to town. There have been some other top artists and entertainers who have graced the stage, or who will be there soon, such as The Bacon Brothers, Travis Tritt, Todd Rundgren, Judy Collins, Arlo Guthrie, Glenn Miller Orchestra, The Marshall Tucker Band, Ottmar Liebert + Luna Negra, comedy acts, specialty shows (such as psychic Sylvia Browne), benefit concerts (Blessid Union of Souls was one) and more.
 
When the merchants of downtown Newton held their annual old-fashioned sidewalk sale July 11-13, it provided visitors the opportunity to not only acquire some great buys, it afforded them the opportunity to explore the products, services and venues the town of Newton has available to offer to patrons year round. 
 
Sara Megletti, owner of PB&J Stores, who also heads up the New Spring Street group, was a store owner who presented a different twist to the sidewalk sale.
 
"I'm having a runway sale," Megletti told The Alternative Press.
 
In spite of the weather that week, which, in contrast to the heat wave the area just experienced, presented cloudy skies and rain, the crowds still flocked to check out what the merchants had to offer.
 
"I've had two excellent days," Megletti commented on the final day of the event.
 
Megletti is one of a few merchants who keeps her items indoors during the special sale days. Megletti explained how her runway sale worked.
 
"When they walk in, I tell them what's on sale," she said.
 
Megletti continued, "Sales have been really good, it doesn't matter if it's in or out."
 
While many are thinking about keeping cool in the pool, Megletti has been preparing for new arrivals to her store, as she and other retailers are making room for the incoming fall fashions.
 
"The runway sale is about kicking off the markdown season for us," she said. 
 
Those day, shoppers could save between 10 and 15 percent on tops, bottoms, selected dresses, handbags, and other accessories. For orders of $100 or more, PB&J Stores offered even greater savings. 
 
Another treasure trove was found at Inner Designs by Robin Lennon, where Sam Platt was busy refilling racks with vintage buttons and buckles, while inside shoppers could save on scarves, bags, earrings, "bagettes," clutches, aprons, and elder bibs.     
 
Platt said a number of customers have renamed him "the button man," as he has developed an understanding, appreciation, and expertise about these small antique treasures from the 1920's through 1950's. 
 
Some of the buttons and buckles were fashioned from such materials as Bakelite, and others from wood, glass, and metal.
 
"It's fascinating who is buying most of them," he said. 
 
Jewelers and knitters were among some of the shoppers seeking them out.
 
"This is the tip of the iceberg," said Platt, in terms of the selection outside, with an even greater assortment indoors.
 
Feels Like Home, Flowers in the Attic, The Springboard Shoppes, Chrissy O Designs, Style Shop, and Maxwell and Molly's Closet, were some of the vendors who had clothing, accessories, personal care, home decor items, and more, featured on the sidewalks. 
 
The Seven Acre Baker shed some sunshine on the street, with a Rainy Day Special of any scone and small coffee for $3.  
 
For more information on happenings in downtown Newton year-round, click here for the New Spring Street Group Facebook Page. 
 
 
 
Editor's Note: The Town of Newton is an advertiser on TheAlternativePress.com. To advertise, email: jmiller@thealternativepress.com, or call: (862) 354-1675.

Follow The Alternative Press for Sussex County News and information, as well as news and information on The Alternative Press of Sussex County's Facebook Page.

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