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Fun, Eclectic Selection of Diverse Items Are Offered at the twine. Shop in Hopewell
By Town Topics Newspaper - Witherspoon Media Group
November 30, 2016
By Jean Stratton
The senses are fully engaged at twine. The popular shop in Hopewell is visually intriguing with a wonderfully eclectic display of many and varied items. Scented candles offer a refreshing aroma, and popular music (including 1960s favorites, Sinatra, the Beatles, Billy Joel, and more, depending on the mood!) plays in the background.
The taste buds are tempted with caramels, Junior Mints, Peppermint Crunch, Tootsie Pops, Hanukkah Kisses, Candy Cane Pop Rock, and shortbread. In addition, touching the merchandise is not only allowed but encouraged. There are no ‘Do Not Touch’ signs at twine. In fact, the sign specifically states: “Remember, if you break it, we put it in the wrong place.”
“I want kids to be able to touch toys and pick up things,” explains twine. owner Melissa Cookman. “It’s important that this is a welcoming place, and that people feel comfortable. We want to set that tone. We have lots of kids who come in, and people can also bring in their dogs. We welcome everyone!”
Originally opened in November 2005, twine. recently moved to a new location at 8 Somerset Street, still in Hopewell.
“I wanted to create more of a community experience and have more room to do that,” points out Ms. Cookman. “The building was for sale, and it has a wonderful back yard. Now, we can have events outside. I put in a fire grill, and in nice weather, we show movies on a big screen outside every Thursday evening. We’re planning to show classic movies in the spring.
“It’s a real community space, and we’ll have other events there, including music and activities like finger-painting. The whole concept is that you can shop anywhere, but people really want an experience, and you can have that at twine.”
No question, customers can certainly have an experience at twine. Filled with a tremendously appealing selection, it is a treat for all ages. Engaging “life-style” items that one can use or just have fun with are the focus. An abbreviated list includes vintage maps, rubber stamps, individual Scrabble tiles, bowls filled with marbles, special cheese storage paper bags (that keep the cheese fresh “forever”), buttons, calendars, bourbon-soaked (or single malt) tooth picks, vintage flasks, shoelaces in all colors and patterns, jigsaw puzzles, soap, candles, and cards, ephemera from all eras — and so much more!
“Here, you will find everything you want and didn’t know you needed,“ says Ms. Cookman, with a smile.
go on a journey
By CentralJersey.com - Packet Media, LLC
October 28, 2016
By Rich Fisher
It’s not a normal place but don’t let that scare you. Rest assured a visit there will be a blast.
We’re talking about twine, a vintage shop in Hopewell that might very well be the gift store your mother warned you about.
Your first hint of abnormality comes from the store’s spelling — twine is spelled in all lower case, with a period at the end. Owner Melissa Cookman, who reminds one of a bawdy vaudevillian stand-up comedienne from yesteryear, wanted the name to be gender neutral but had trouble coming up with a logo. Thus, she found the perfect font to spell out the word twine but felt, “it looked like it was just floating in the air. So I put a period after it, and it solved both problems — logo, anchored.”
If that explanation has you baffled or fascinated, you are ready to enter the world of twine. While it will celebrate its fifth anniversary in November, the store opened at a new location last month. It moved from behind Nomad Pizza, to a charming spot on Somerset Street.
Ms. Cookman is the perfect owner. She may, in fact, be the only one who could own this place. She is the human embodiment of what the shop represents... or maybe the shop is a brick-and-mortar embodiment of the owner. It’s hard to know after talking to Melissa, because the conversation shoots into as many different directions as the twine inventory itself. But rest assured both woman and building represent whimsy, humor, fun, creativity, diversity and a whole lot more.
”One thing I want people to know about this store is they won’t be disappointed,” Ms. Cookman said. “Come in and be surprised. Be entertained. Find things you won’t find anywhere else. I want everyone to have fun and find the perfect thing for themselves.”
Thinking you won’t find the perfect thing? Think again, random shopper!
If your purchasing list includes candles, a book on identifying trees, key chains made of license plates, adult greeting cards designed to make a grown-up blush, toothpicks soaked in bourbon, a GI Joe doing yoga, or professional sports memorabilia, chances are you are planning a day at the mall. But twine has all that and more. It’s kind of like little pieces of the mall coming together in one cozy, cluttered oasis.
go on a journey
There’s only one difference.
”If I’ve had some items that I’m selling and all of a sudden they appear in other big stores, I stopped selling them,” Ms. Cookman said. “I don’t want you to walk in and say ‘Yeah I’ve seen that.’ It’s an interesting journey I’m on here.”
To say the least. And don’t expect to find gift store staples such as incense and potpourri on hand.
”That’s way too normal for us,” Ms. Cookman said.
And we haven’t even gotten to the broken-down moving van in the backyard that’s so old it has the “Let your fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages” ad on it. That doubles as a decoration and a movie screen for outdoor film watching.
How in the world, you might ask, did this all happen? Excellent question.
Ms. Cookman spent her childhood in both Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. Her dad owned a bookstore in the capital during the JFK administration, and the Kennedys would actually come in and make purchases.
”My dad came home night and said ‘I think they’re going to India,’ because someone from the White House had ordered books about India,” Ms. Cookman recalled. “So I had that at 4 years old, sitting at this giant cash register.”
The family moved back to Philadelphia, and Ms. Cookman moved to West Windsor more than 30 years ago after getting married. She worked in book publishing for 15 years, became a stay-at-home mom and then worked at The Paper Source in Princeton. Throughout her life she had a romantic notion of owning her own store, and would often bring it up to friends and family.
One day, while talking to her parents about serious health issues, Ms. Cookman got interrupted by a friend.
”She said ‘You keep talking about the store... when are you going to open the store?’” Ms. Cookman said. “I said ‘Someday.’ She said ‘How old are you?’ I said ‘57.’ She said ‘So... WHEN are you gonna open the store?’”
Inspired by that conversation, and the fact that one doesn’t count backward on birthdays, Ms. Cookman contacted a Realtor friend and immediately rented the spot they were looking for in July, 2011. The shop opened four months later with a few thousand of Ms. Cookman’s favorite things.
”I love old stuff,” she said. “I would see a box of old maps and I’d buy them. I would go to estate sales and buy every scrapbook they had of a person’s whole life. I would just amass these things, and I love kids’ things. I have a million little kids chairs, all these things that would make great props for a store.”
Not only great props, but great places to stock inventory. Ms. Cookman uses such items as old wooden cheese boxes, crates, kids benches or an old telephone table to display her merchandise.
”There’s just a very vintagy feel to it, because I like all that stuff,” she said.
Once the lease at the original establishment was up, Ms. Cookman went from renter to buyer and purchased her new building.
go on a journey
”It had an incredible outdoor space,” she said. “We fixed up the backyard, built a fire pit on the patio. We gutted the building and added a room. The moving van just appealed to me, to show you what kind of person I am. I want to show movies, I want people to come here and hang out. I love this town, just this whole area, so I want this to be community-oriented.”
The extra room has become part of that community involvement. It is called the “Maker Space.” For $20 an hour, adults enter an open studio and have access to drawers full of items that they can use to decorate anything they wish. The materials include photographs, maps, ticket stubs, bingo cards, rubber stamps, color inks and much more. Visitors can decorate such items as tins, wooden boxes, chairs or anything else that strikes their fancy. There are also adult coloring books and crayons provided for what Ms. Cookman calls “the hottest trend.”
”We have people put their cell phone in a basket when they walk into this space and just try something new,” she said. “I look in and there’s all these adults sitting around absolutely silent, coloring. It’s really true, people need to lose themselves sometime. You can’t think about serious things when you’re coloring in the leaf or the cat or whatever. So we encourage people to just come in and try it.”
There are also open studio sessions for children that cost $15. Kids can use materials to work on school projects, make cards for their friends or anything else the imagination unlocks.
With the holidays coming up, Ms. Cookman suggests adults come and wrap their presents in the studio — bringing their own wrapping paper or purchasing some from the store — and make a day of it.
”Wrapping is such a pain,” she said. “You can come here and have fun doing it. And you can bring wine. Wine is good.”
The store’s merchandise is mind blowing, as Ms. Cookman’s mantra is “We have everything you want that you didn’t know you needed.”
”You’ve never thought about it,” she said. “But then you see it and say ‘I need it!’”
Such an example are her books, which Melissa says, “You wouldn’t necessarily find them unless you were looking for them. These aren’t the books that are face out at bookstores.”
There are cook books, inspirational books, creative books and of course that old standby.
”We have manual for the identification of trees by their leaves,” Ms. Cookman said. “It flies out of here. Who knew?”
The greeting cards have fast become legendary. Most of them can’t be quoted in a family newspaper, but some of the cleaner ones say “Sometimes I’ll take a nap to fast forward through a couple of hours I’m too bored to live through,” or “Middle age is mostly getting excited about different flavors of hummus.”
go on a journey
Ms. Cookman's store sells fudge from Massachusetts and hand lotions from Colorado. There are numerous “soaps for,” such as soaps for geeks (Wi-Fi scented), soaps for depression (scented with catch-all symptoms) and soaps for hipsters (scented like coffee, bacon and craft beers to smell just like your beard). Then there are beautiful handmade soaps, stick candles made from casts of tree branches and all kinds of other good stuff.
Melissa also caters to men, with a G.I. Joe doing Yoga, alcohol-saturated tooth picks and sports-related items such as a used Yankee bat that was broken during the course of a game, and wallets lined with fabric from game-worn uniforms.
It’s impossible to give the entire twine story in one newspaper article because there is just so much to tell. It really must be experienced.
”It’s a really cool store,” Ms. Cookman said. “I tell the kids who are working for me that they’re not selling here, this is all about show-and-tell. There’s always a story behind every item you pick up.”
Probably the best way to describe it is, if you walk into twine, you may not get it. But by the time you walk out, it will have gotten you.
twine is located at 8 Somerset St., Hopewell.
new location, same whimsical appeal for twine.
By Mercerspace on October 3, 2016
By Angela Fee-Maimon
When one steps inside the new location of twine. it is clear that the whimsical atmosphere that has always defined the store was unpacked along with the glow-in-the-dark putty and scrabble tiles. Natural light floods into the shop, adding to the cheerful vibe one feels while browsing a selection of fun and imaginative products.
twine. recently made a move within the Hopewell Borough from Broad Street to 8 Somerset St., formerly the location of the Princeton Doll and Toy Museum.
A grand opening celebration is being planned for Oct. 8 from 4pm-8pm that will include food, music, and a few surprises.
The building’s exterior was transformed from a drab gray to the same shade of red as the old Twine exterior for consistency. A business sign was erected in the front yard, which is a short walk from the historic train station.
Owner Melissa Cookman said the building on Somerset Street was listed for sale around the time her lease was up for renewal at the old location, so she decided to buy and relocate.
“I love a project. The contractor, Charlie Donahue, understood the aesthetic that I wanted for the the place. We gutted the building, adding new floors and windows, and then added on a section for a maker’s space,” Cookman said.
The open floor plan still flows from the boutique into the work area; however, the workstation now has its own well-defined space separate from merchandise. In the maker’s space, for a small fee, customers have access to elements of creativity such as ribbons, books, feathers, adhesives, stickers, and rubber stamps to craft their own projects.