When Michelle Lease of New Vernon decided to take her online business to a new level, she quickly filled up the Ginger Jar in Harding Township with a curated collection of classic home décor. “I felt the need for a Morris County retailer offering well-priced gifts and decorative items, and I especially have a thing for blue and white,” she says.
The shop, a circa-1745 farmhouse located on the Country Mile between Bernardsville and Morristown, opened in March 2022 and quickly became a go-to for hostess gifts, serveware, Chinoiserie vases, tote bags, jewelry and equestrian-themed items.
The Ginger Jar, decorated in preppy navy blue, white and Kelly green, also sells an abundance of notepads personalized with zip codes of surrounding towns, as well as stationery customized with names of local schools. Needlepoint throw pillows coax a smile with clever comments like, “I don’t repeat gossip, so listen carefully,” and, “This is why we can’t have nice things.”
Lease’s new and vintage merchandise fills most of the store, with sister business Le Petite Monogram Shop, owned by Elke Spoor, occupying an adjacent space. The newest member of the staff is mascot Rose, a yellow Labrador puppy who greets shoppers. As an added attraction, the popular Candy Store of Harding maintains its longtime spot toward the back of the building. Lease says, “A bonus to our customers is visiting the candy shop for favorites like sea-salt caramels.”
No stranger to the business world, Lease began her retail career at the tender age of 15 selling party dresses. Later, she worked as a marketing and PR consultant before opening her own online business, the Paper Cottage, which captured national attention when it was featured in a Chase Card television commercial in 2013. More recently, she operated the Nantucket Collection, an online venture that sold coastal-style décor and gifts.
Although some entrepreneurs might shy away from opening a new location these days, Lease welcomed the opportunity. “I live just around the corner, found this charming space, and had existing relationships with fabulous vendors, so it seemed like the right time to pull the trigger and open my first shop,” she says. “My head was full of fun ideas—I just needed to download them.”
“It’s been a long time coming, but I’m thrilled to finally have my own brick-and-mortar location. The Ginger Jar is a happy gathering place that embodies all the things I love.”
The Ginger Jar, 1007 Mt. Kemble Road, Harding Township; 917-640-1484.
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