ON THE GO: CIGARS, SUBS, WINE & PLUSHIES

carminesJust a year after opening, Carmine’s Sub Shop has changed owners. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Another Red Bank business bites the dust — or in this case, has been stubbed out — over rent in Red Bank. rcsm2_010508

Cigars Plus, one of the last, if not the last, places to enjoy a smoke indoors in Red Bank, is heading out of town.

Owner Frank Toscano tells redbankgreen his landlord, John Bowers, of Philip Bowers Realty, didn’t want the space filled with smoke anymore and was squeezing him on rent. Toscano will maintain his original Cigars Plus shop in Brick.

“We lost our lease,” he said. “The landlord is kicking us out. He didn’t want smoking in the shop, so I have to leave.”

More details on what’s churning in Red Bank’s downtown after the ‘Read More.’

fe-plushFragile Earth Stuffed Animals and Gifts of Whimsy owners Helen and Mary Beth Graham. Below, Prima’s Home & Cafe isn’t closing: just getting a makeover, an owner says.(Photos by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

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Here’s a buck against the trend in retailing: After running a stuffed animal business on the internet for eight years, the Graham sisters, Helen and Mary Beth, opted to open a brick-and-mortar business to complement their blooming plush toy biz.

Fragile Earth Stuffed Animals and Gifts of Whimsy opened its doors Saturday at 9 Monmouth Street, most recently the home of Wooly Monmouth.

The Grahams, of Long Branch, decided on Red Bank for its foot traffic and distinct architecture to offer a range of animal-themed products, from stuffed animals to ceramics, wooden signs to jewelry, they said.

Both used to work office jobs, with the online business as a hobby that slowly made itself a sustainable business, they said.

“We decided to start making money for ourselves,” Mary Beth Graham said.

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Next door to Cigars Plus, Carmine’s Sub Shop has changed ownership just about a year after Carmine Marino threw open the doors at the White Street location. No word on why Marino sold the business, or who the new owners are, but nothing else seems to have changed.

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The bright yellow ‘SALE’ signs in the window of Primas Home & Cafe on Broad Street may suggest that the business is on its way out, but manager and co-owner Roberto Nogueira says the sale is in advance of an interior renovation and slight shift in the furniture and accessory shop’s business model.

The big-ticket merchandise is moving upstairs, he said, and the downstairs showroom will feature more affordable wares. He anticipates the store will shut down for about three weeks while the two-story space gets overhauled, likely for the month of May.

“What we’re trying to do is adjust ourselves to the economy,” Nogueira said. “For people, instead of buying a $12,000 sofa, they can buy a $2,500 sofa.”

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Other notes:

Red Bank Diner is open for business, taking up the space on Broad Street left vacant by the East Side Diner last year.

The Wine Cellar on Monmouth Street is changing ownership. A manager at the shop said the change won’t affect the daily operations.

A proposal to open a bait and tackle shop on East Front Street was tabled by the zoning board Thursday night.

And Sogo Sushi will go before the planning board Monday for approval to expand its brown rice sushi operation next door, to the vacant space left by Bath Junkie.

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