Business Maplewood South Orange

Online ‘SOMA General Store’ Debuts Just in Time for Small Biz Cyber Weekend

From WORK AND PLAY in South Orange Village Center:

Amy Howlett (General Manager of General Store by Work and Play) and Deborah Engel, owner of Work and Play

Work and Play, a coworking space supporting local entrepreneurs in South Orange, has launched the brand-new initiative General Store by Work and Play (, a new cooperative online marketplace for local makers and independent stores, marrying the desire to shop local with the modern day need for convenience.

“We moved to Maplewood because, like thousands of others in SOMA, we love the character of our two towns. We’ve watched storefronts struggle and go out of business. We see the retail landscape changing with online megastores, and we want to create a hyper-local alternative to preserve our town’s character and keep our independent stores competitive, while also offering a new consumer base to our community’s talented makers and artists,” said Amy Howlett, General Manager of the new retail website.

The launch coincides with Small Business Cyber Weekend, a new initiative of the South Orange Village Center Alliance, to provide an alternative for the SOMa community to shop local on Small Business Saturday and into Cyber Monday and throughout the holiday season. General Store by Work and Play has partnered with the South Orange Village Center Alliance, the Maplewood Village Alliance and the Springfield Avenue Partnership to bring the community’s local stores and wares to one online shopping destination, open 24 hours per day. The site launches with 60 local vendors including numerous brick and mortar stores from South Orange and Maplewood, ranging from toy stores and gift shops to photographers and artists, woodworkers and jewelry designers, restaurants and more.

The new online shop also arrives in conjunction with the pledge site Shop Local SOMa for the holidays (, which urges each and every Maplewood and South Orange resident to buy at least three gifts this holiday season from local, independent stores.

Anna Rulnick, owner of Mod Studio, came up with this pledge idea after signing her children up for TV Turnoff. “[TV Turnoff is] an honor system, but my kids take it very seriously. So I thought about our holiday shopping list and decided to pledge a family goal of 100% local this year. Then I thought; wouldn’t it be incredible if everyone in our towns made a similar pledge? Even if they are not all at 100%… but if everyone in our two towns shopped local for the holidays, it could be a game changer for small businesses!”

The General Store will continue to add vendors and local stores to this local online shopping destination. Interested makers and indie stores can apply via the application found on

“The General Store community is a perfect extension of our coworking community as we aim to provide a supportive and nurturing space that helps all businesses grow and thrive. The online shop isn’t just a retail shop, it’s a great opportunity for makers and local businesses to network, collaborate, share resources and help each other grow their businesses.” said Deborah Engel, founder of Work and Play.

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