The smell of kettle corn is in the air.

One of the fun things about living in an urban environment is proximity to not just restaurants and stores but events like concerts, literary readings and festivals. And by proximity I mean walking distance.

As it happens, I live a few short steps from my town’s main drag, so our recent Arts and Music Festival seemed like a great time to transport myself to a world where others’ creativity is on display. To boot, it was a chance to have a few friends to my place for mimosas and a little nosh before we strolled the seven blocks of booths.

We were struck by the amount of businesses represented that had no physical storefront. They were entrepreneurs with a secret sauce or a cool invention and they were giving us a chance to taste it or get the visual and buy on the spot. Or we could take a business card and order later online.

So many enthusiastic, creative people putting themselves out there. I find it hard to just walk by sometimes or pick up an item and look at it with interest only to put it back and see the hope in their eyes that I’m going to lay down the money. I so want to encourage their craft that it makes me wrestle with my shopping demons sometimes.

One booth I couldn’t pass by without making a purchase was set up with lots of colorful necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Vibrant and plentiful, the bright hues of Mujeres Cambia showcasing artists from Ecuador caught my eye. But then I heard something that kept me riveted to that booth. The woman working it was explaining that each piece had a tag on it with the artist’s name and her goal. My turquoise-colored hoop earrings, for example, were made by Alexandra and her goal is “to motivate other entrepreneurial women.”

To boot, there is this:

Our jewelry is made from post-consumer waste paper (we never buy new paper to make our beads) and is finished with varnish in order to make our products durable and water resistant.

This fit nicely into the conscious consumerism category and the jewelry is a delight. It made me feel like I discovered something exotic and brilliant just outside my front door.

The day also consisted of visiting a clothing boutique inside a truck, browsing used books, seeing some dazzling art and bumping up against a 1977 Airstream used for displaying and selling Bigelow Tea. Officially known as the Bigelow Mobile Tea Bar, it was capturing a lot of attention and doing brisk business in front of city hall, across from Hoboken’s infamous Carlo’s Bakery (home of the Cake Boss), and just steps from the stage where Darlene Love was performing.

I live riveted to these kinds of experiences and get a kick out of being able to walk out my door into a whole different vibe than I find on most days.

Take me away, even for just a stroll.

By Nancy Colasurdo

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