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While edgy galleries, hip bistros and bohemian boutiques give Downtown Jersey City
a rep worthy of a recent write-up in New York magazine, there's a new shop in the neighborhood that's an answer to the prayers of anyone who lives here.

Imagine Atrium is so heavenly it redefines cool, as in "Hallelujah, we FINALLY have
a bookstore!"

With its midnight blue walls and spring morning skylight, you feel positively elated the moment you enter Imagine Atrium. Making a beeline for the books, neatly arranged in logical categories, I almost missed the innovative gifts that line the silver shelves up front - making Imagine a shop with something for everybody.

"When I started coming over here, I asked people what they wanted," said owner
Garrad Bradley, "and they all said 'I wish we had a bookstore.'"

Merging his interests in science, education and health and well-being, the former Discovery Channel program coordinator dreamed up a store that's truly imaginative.

You'll unearth everything from hardcover best sellers like "Freakonomics" and Oprah's "Live Your Best Life" to paperback novels, mysteries and sassy chick-lit.

There's a wonderful selection of classics, a Spanish-language section and books on every topic from parenting to crafts.

"We have books in every genre," said Garrad. "If you can't find a certain book,
we'll order it."

It's also fascinating to note that some of the titles, like the science fiction classics, for instance - which are difficult to find elsewhere - are used books. But you have to look closely, since all of the books at Imagine Atrium look brand new.

Beyond the books are ultra-unique gifts, from Zum Bar oatmeal-lavender goat's milk soap ($5) to Silver Forest jewelry handcrafted in Vermont. You'll discover Himalayan bath salts, hot and cold therapy body shawls, yoga mats, fun board games and educational kits for kids to study the environment or mix potions to make their own soap or perfume.

"I order primarily from environmentally conscious, independent companies who practice
fair trade," Garrad said.

Born in Washington, D.C., Garrad is a Duke University (International Studies) grad who lived in Montreal and Morocco before relocating to the metro area to work in educational television. He recently moved to Downtown Jersey City from Inwood in Manhattan and launched Imagine Atrium on Dec. 8.

AHN BEHRENS - Urban Diary

Imagine Atrium 528 Jersey Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07302
Phone: (201) 451-4848

Arsenal Design 650 Raritan Avenue, Perth Amboy, NJ 08861