JP CENTER—Coincidence is responsible for the opening of a string of new businesses–including several retail shops—in the 600 block of Centre Street within the past few weeks.
A new fine dessert café, salon, modern art style gift store, high-end women’s consignment shop and a serenity-themed bath and body shop, as well as a new gas station owner, have joined the JP business and social community.
Local, independent entrepreneurs own all of them.
“It’s an upscale dessert café. The desserts look good and taste good,” said Ben Lem, JP resident and owner of Sweet Christopher’s Dessert Café at 601 Centre St.
Light yellow walls, hardwood floors and triple chocolate trilogy desserts are features at the café. Specialty juices, coffees and teas are also available.
Lem has a master’s degree in education and has also worked as a social worker and a retail bank manager.
He said he plans to open in two weeks pending an occupancy license and will go before the Jamaica Pond Association (JPA) and the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, Nov. 6 and Nov. 7, respectively. “I don’t think we’ll have an issue with Sweet Christopher’s,” said John Iappini, JPA president.
Sweet Chris’s hours will be 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Sunday, said Lem.
“My dream is complete,” said Magdalena Casanova, referring to her new store, Magda’s Hair Salon and Spa, at 634 Centre St.
“We do haircuts, facials, massages, pedicures, manicures, coloring, perms… We do everything,” said Casanova.
She said she would like to give the community a good service. The store opened last Sat., Oct. 21. Store hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m.-7 p.m. on Sunday.
Lime green and another bright orange wall color a new gift store at 636 Centre St.
“It’s a gift store focusing on contemporary design and things like hand-made jewelry, with a focus on price,” said On Centre owner Phil Celeste.
Celeste said he is trying to keep prices under $50 and that he is trying to offer things around the $12 to $15 dollar price range. The store offers lamps, pictures, coffee table trays and ornaments, and handmade jewelry. The color and style of the jewelry, frames and lamps match the décor of the store.
Celeste used to work as a gift designer and jewelry maker. Store hours are 12 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday through Wednesday; 11a.m.-7 p.m., Thursday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday; and 12 p.m.-5 p.m., Sunday.
A women’s designer consignment shop at 603 Centre St. will be open by mid-November, said new store owner Eva Budavari, a JP resident.
The shop, designed with pink walls and a glass chandelier in the middle of the ceiling, offering a touch of elegance, carries high-end designer brand jewelry, clothes, handbags and accessories.
“When you buy designer, sure, it costs a lot, but it is good quality,” said Budavari. “You can buy the clothes and then re-sell them because they are such good quality… It’s like an investment.”
Budavari said she keeps the clothes people bring in for consignment at her store for three months and pays consigners 50 percent of what she sold the clothes for. Dogs are welcome in her store.
Serene Vibes is a bath and body scent shop at 638 Centre St. “I’m trying to create an element of relaxation and tranquility,” said Michael Bryant, a first-time business owner.
The store smells like the honey-brown sugar and mango martini natural oils and natural soaps that dot its walls. Relaxation CDs play over the speakers. The store also sells all-natural soaps, candles and a bath bomb, a scented ball that explodes in the tub and fills it with bubbles.
The store’s hours are 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 12 p.m.-5:30 p.m., Sunday.
The franchise gas station Citgo that was at 561 Centre St., is now a TJ’s, owned by independent businessman T.J. Nabbout. Nabbout has owned auto shops and gas stations in Salem for 16 years, he said. He has owned the station here for one month.
“Being an independent owner allows me to keep prices the lowest on Centre Street,” said Nabbout, “because there is no franchise.”
TJ’s offers complete auto repair and full-service gas. Nabbout said he is in the process of purchasing a state inspection machine. “The state only issues a certain amount of them a year,” said Nabbout, “so I’m trying to find one available from someone else.”
Nabbout said he wants to get involved in the community. “It is clean and nice and busy here. There is a lot of culture,” he said.