HOME-GOODS TOUR STARS ‘UNSUNG HEROES’

queen-vaccum_9John and Rachel Decker of Queen Vacuum are leading the charge to highlight Red Bank’s daytime attractions this Saturday. (Photo courtesy Fran Waldmann)

By TOM CHESEK

“Red Bank is really diverse — but it sometimes gets pegged as a nightlife town,” says Rachel Decker of Queen Vacuum and Sewing Machine, the long-running Monmouth Street business (formerly Graman’s) that she and her husband John have operated for the better part of the past decade.

“While the restaurants and theaters are really wonderful, as a ‘daytime’ sort of business we felt a little left out, in that what we do didn’t fit in with a lot of RiverCenter’s events and promotions,” she says.

As the young, stylish and energetic NextGen owners of the 50-year-old appliance retailer and servicer (John, a former employee of founder Gene Graman, bought the business in 2003; Rachel came on board full time in 2006), the thirtysomething Tinton Falls couple admits to having been a bit jealous of the parade of dining, shopping and recreational happenings that passed by their shop like trains from the nearby NJ Transit platform.

As a member of the marketing committee for Red Bank RiverCenter, however, Rachel “knew that other businesses in town felt the way we did.” Acknowledging that the way to address the problem was to “be constructive rather than complain,” the former graphic designer took the liberty of “pitching a few ideas at ’em” — and when the dust cleared, she found herself appointed chair of the first-ever Only One Red Bank Home Event, a promotion designed to prepare the home-oriented “unsung retail heroes and service businesses” of Red Bank for their long overdue close-up.

monmouth-emporiumThe Monmouth Street Emporium will host the registration table next Saturday. (Click to enlarge)

Scheduled for the daylight hours of Saturday, April 30, the rain-or-shine event (patterned after RiverCenter’s successful series of Wedding Walks) encourages visitors to tour the town — with stops at such multi-generational mainstays as Prown’s Home Improvement and Better Housekeeping, as well as such successful newer neighbors as Red Ginger Home and Restoration Hardware.

“You hear a lot of negative buzz about the empty stores in town, but you don’t hear enough about the places that are still here, and have been here forever,” says Decker while engaged in an update to the busy shop’s website (and assuring redbankgreen that, contrary to puns and popular belief, the vacuum cleaner business does not suck in this recession-racked interlude).

“This is a great way to get people go into stores that they’ve passed by forever – maybe into places that they didn’t even know existed.”

In addition to affording climate-clobbered customers a chance to “shake off winter, stretch their legs and start sprucing up their homes,” the Saturday Home Event is also being pitched as an opportunity for shoppers to acquaint themselves with some relatively little-known aspects of familiar businesses — from the home decor items featured by Hamilton Jewelers, to the Hallmark Gold Crown Gift Shop inside of Professional Pharmacy.

All those taking the tour on April 30 can qualify for entry into a grand prize raffle by visiting at least ten of the participating businesses — two in each of five zones — with a prize drawing reception scheduled for 3p at Town & Country Kitchen & Bath on Bridge Avenue. Official registration for the Home Event tour is at 10a at the Monmouth Street Emporium, and tour info will be available as well from any of the featured locations (look here or on Facebook for an updated list of participants and other pertinent particulars).

Not coincidentally, April 30 also happens to be the kickoff date for Red Bank’s Paint the Town Pink promotion, with scores of borough businesses (including the Home Event participants) highlighting information on that monthlong, townwide breast cancer awareness campaign.

“Having an organization like RiverCenter around really helps get things going,” says Decker, who overcame an aversion to bureaucracy in becoming a RiverCenter supporter. “It’s still pretty darn cheap to be a member, and having that level of support behind the Home Event helped a lot of other skeptics to eventually come on board, too.”

“The whole town’s practically on sale,” proclaims the preternaturally cheery proprietor. “It’s all free, all family-friendly…there’s practical stuff that everybody can use, from vacuum cleaners to custom drapes and cabinetry; framed artwork to fine furniture, interior design to designer candles. Even the kitchen sink!”