The “Jersey Shore” spinoff reality series “Snooki & JWoww” has meant increased publicity for several Jersey City shops and services that were featured on the show, which aired its season finale on Sept. 13.
The MTV series features Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Jennifer “JWoww” Farley, living it up as two young women in the big city. However, with Snooki revealing her pregnancy and both women in serious relationships, their antics in this series have been largely muted compared to their previous show.
Twelve episodes of the series were filmed in Jersey City earlier this year and have been airing this summer, with little fanfare. The young women have visited local shops and a bakery, a big change from their hijinks when they were single. Although reality TV fans may have lost out due to the muted tone of the show, the big winners were the local merchants who were its co-stars.
Jersey City store owners said last week that they’ve been pleased with their role in the series.
Nervous at first
Hudson County wasn’t always so friendly to the show’s producers. Snooki and Jwoww have become known for their partying ways and regular run-ins with the law. Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer denied MTV’s request to film in Hoboken last year, based on potential quality-of-life and public safety issues.
MTV’s search for another town led to Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, who welcomed the show with open arms.
A boost for local business
Sleep Cheap and Downtown Hardware, both on Newark Avenue, were Snooki and JWoww’s go-to spots to get everything they needed to decorate the converted firehouse on Mercer that was their TV home.
“They spent a good amount of money here and they were very pleasant, to be quite honest,” said Edwin Cruz, owner of Downtown Hardware. “I would imagine [their visit] brought more attention, but I wouldn’t say more popularity. Regular customers that I see have mentioned that they saw me and saw the store. Overall it was a positive thing.”
Both establishments were initially uneasy about Snooki and Jwoww’s arrival.
“I was definitely apprehensive,” said Victor Peralta of Sleep Cheap. “I was thinking they were going to be too crazy. But they actually behaved very well. We wouldn’t mind [if they came back]. It was nice to see something different in a different scene.”
“I believe that people were worried [at first],” agreed Cruz. “I believe some people didn’t want [filming] at all, and I know this for a fact, since I would hear [people] talking. But in general I think they proved everyone wrong because they were quiet.”
Real life on TV
“I think it’s a lot of fun and I think it’s great, because it keeps the community interested in what’s going on,” said Kristen Scalia, owner of Kannibal Home, after Snooki and JWoww’s visit to Jersey City. “It shows that there is outside interest in Jersey City, which really validates us as a great little city to be in, to live, to work, and to just be a part of. I think that from a community perspective it was just great because people really like to see celebrities in the places they often frequent so for my regular customers it’s been a lot of fun,” said Scalia on customers’ reactions. “They’ve just been popping in and saying ‘Hi, we saw the shop and we saw other Jersey City locations also on the show’.”
She added, “I am always appreciative of any kind of attention on a local or a national scale, but you know, I think the people that get excited are the people that live here in Jersey City, so it’s really nice for them to see some of their favorite shops in town getting highlighted.”
On a shopping trip Snooki and JWoww made to Kannibal Home, they met Megan, a very pregnant loyal customer of Scalia who happened to be noticed by Snooki.
“I think that one of the most frequent questions I get is, ‘Was it a set up or was it a real scenario?’ ” said Scalia of the Snooki and Megan on-air pregnancy conversation.
“Megan is an all-time customer of mine. She’s been here for the last couple of years. She was actually pregnant with her second child [during the filming] and that day she had a crazy case of baby brain. She just wanted to buy this stuffed toy really bad. She wasn’t even paying attention to the commotion in the shop, and it just so happened that she turned around and looked over at Nicole and Nicole looked at her and Megan said to her ‘Welcome to the neighborhood, neighbor’ and Nicole looked at her and said ‘You’re pregnant’ and it just kind of started that conversation.”
JWoww made a friend of her own named Ashley when she took an organic cooking class at Made With Love Artisan Bakery on Jersey Avenue.
“Everyone made friends [that day],” said Celeste Governanti, owner of Made With Love. “In my opinion, they’re stars, they’re celebrities. They’re very, very nice and lovely people, and they have a great talent for cooking, especially Jenni.”
Snooki and JWoww browsed through many Jersey City shops to fulfill their needs for clothes shopping and food shopping.
‘Fighting for them’
Scalia was eager for the girls to become part of the Jersey City community.
“I think the community was a little bit divided,” said Scalia. “They didn’t know what to make of it but I kind of was fighting for them. I kept on saying ‘You wouldn’t turn away someone new that moved in to Liberty Harbor; you wouldn’t turn away someone new that moved in to Grove Point; why would you turn away someone new that’s just moving down the street in a brownstone?’ That was my take on it and I was very happily pleased, because they were polite and they were respectful.”
Cruz said, “From what I understand, they gave flowers and gifts to neighbors on the block before they left. And you don’t hear too much of that stuff, but it happened.”
Maybe Snooki’s pregnancy is the biggest contributor to generosity.
“I wish the best to Snooki and the new baby,” said Governanti. “I would love to be able to give her organic baby food classes.”
The show has been airing on Thursdays at 10 p.m. on MTV.
Yarleen Hernandez may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.