Businesses Make Hoboken Work
Innovative newcomers and venerable old establishments keep Hoboken humming
Jun 29, 2012 | 3253 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Stephanie LeBlanc and Cliff Godfrey
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(888) 309-2243

The idea behind this year-old business is deceptively simple. It rents reusable plastic bins to residential and commercial clients who are moving. “We deliver the bins, unpack the things when you move, and pick up the empty bins,” says co-partner Stephanie LeBlanc.

LeBlanc and partner Cliff Godfrey had convenience and the environment in mind when they started the enterprise in 2011.

“You’re not wasting paper boxes, figuring out how to clean them, or where to buy them,” LeBlanc says.

LeBlanc and Godfrey met at Stevens Institute of Technology. “I was going back and forth from Brooklyn and using plastic bins to carry things back and forth,” LeBlanc says. “I didn’t have the space to store them, and I figured I wasn’t the only one with the issue.”

Thus, the idea for Bin There, Store That was hatched.

LeBlanc has a day job in digital advertising, and Godfrey is a project manager with the Newark Housing Authority. “The rental market in Hoboken, New York, and other urban areas is so great that the opportunity is there to do it fulltime,” LeBlanc says.

They’re also planning to “fulfill the name of the business by providing storage,” she says. “We’ll store the filled bins, so you never have to set foot in a storage facility.”

If you’re the kind of person who grabs cardboard boxes from the back of the nearest liquor store, think again. “In the age of bed bugs, that has to be completely wiped out,” LeBlanc says.

The company’s biggest hurdle?

“Getting people to change their mindset about cardboard boxes to something cleaner and more convenient,” LeBlanc says. “Once they hear about it, they’ll say, ‘Hey, that makes sense.’”

Monroe Center
720 Monroe St. Unit E505
201) 747-7070

Talk about bricks and mortar. A year ago, Della Markferding hooked up with a franchise that uses LEGO bricks to teach kids about architecture and engineering. “Kids ages six and up learn math and science, problem-solving skills, and an appreciation for how things work,” she says.

The franchise supplies model plans designed by architects and engineers with themes such as space, construction, and amusement parks.

The kids take it from there in hands-on classes in which they learn about everything from gears and motors to catapults and windmills. If they choose to build a windmill, they learn, not just how to build one, but how they work.

“I was looking to change careers from bookkeeping,” Markferding says. “I was thinking of opening a Montessori school, but the Bricks 4 Kidz franchise kept popping up, and it had the word LEGO in it, which I knew had an educational benefit.”

Markferding has two kids, ages four and eight, and she wanted to be able to spend time with them. She eventually rented a space in the Monroe Center and signed up to teach the after-school enrichment classes.

“My four-year-old loves it,” Markferding says. “He can’t read the directions, but he can look at the pictures and know where the pieces go. Self-expression is encouraged, and his creativity is coming out.”

600 Park Ave.
201) 683-6073

“This has been a hobby of mine for some time,” says owner Pete Gonzalez. That’s why he started the business last year. He offers saltwater and freshwater fish that are “flown in from all over the world,” he says. They hail from Australia, the Philippines, and Singapore, among other places.

The most popular fish? The clownfish. This makes sense when you figure that Nemo is a clownfish, and all the kids want one.

Gonzalez has 80 different varieties, starting as low as $2 for a freshwater specimen.

A lot of parents go for fish because dogs are too high maintenance. “For those who don’t want to maintain the tank, we make house calls,” Gonzalez says. “You have to clean the tank once a month. People think you have to empty out the whole tank, but you just have to remove 25 percent of the water.”

The Fish Emporium sells all the fish gear you could want, including tanks, filters, fish food, sand, gravel, and that little fish furniture you can stick in the bottom of the tank.

Most people buy the 10-gallon tanks, but, says Gonzalez, “the old-fashioned goldfish bowls still sell well.”

115 Washington St.
201) 659-0486

Before you get on bended knee, you might want to check in with Hoboken Gold. This Washington Street jeweler has been around for 30 years, and is the last word in custom-made engagement rings and wedding bands.

Anthony Lenardo’s father opened the store in 1982, and Anthony has been on board the whole time. “Most of our work is in custom-made rings,” he says. “We have a lot of rings in stock, and customers will pick things from three different rings, or they will bring in a picture of a ring.”

Jewelers on site then execute the design. You can get a three-carat diamond for $3,000 or for $10,000. “It depends on the quality of the diamond,” Lenardo says. “The average price is $8,000.”

Satisfied customers are his main goal. “If they don’t like something, we remake it,” he says. “We want them to be happy with it. It’s rewarding to design something they want for the rest of their lives.”

38 Jackson St.
201) 222-1224

Ralph Morrissey’s family has been in Hoboken since 1920. Most were longshoremen, but Morrissey has always been into moving. “In the Army I was always getting things from point A to point B,” he says.

Though he moves shipments all over the United States and out of the country, 60 percent of his business is in Hoboken and Jersey City. He does nine jobs a day in the two towns.

Even in the bad economy, business was good. “People were downsizing,” he says, “and a lot of people lost jobs or took pay cuts, and they were moving back with mom and dad.”

When people move, the storage arm of his business also prospers. “A lot of stuff they can’t take,” he says, “or they don’t know what to do with it.”

Anyone who’s ever hired a moving company knows that the work is backbreaking.

“If it wasn’t for those people, we wouldn’t be so successful,” Morrissey says. “They are so dedicated and honest and hardworking. If someone asks them to do something they smile and do it. If we have to move something 10 times to make the client happy, we’ll do it.”

Interviews by Kate Rounds

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