MORRIS – When you walk through the front door of Betty’s on Washington Street, you enter a room filled with clothes. The boutique carries what one would expect in a women’s clothing shop – dresses, flowing tops and tables with accessories scattered atop.
A few steps in, however, and a separate room becomes visible. Inside, something wholly separate from the rest of the items in the shop – vintage vinyl records.
“It started out with a small box of albums,” said Jan Aimaro of Betty’s. “People loved the and it just grew.”
In shops throughout downtown Morris, the unique and unexpected is for sale in unusual places.
In the vinyl records room, you can find both vintage records and newer ones. Aimaro said that the ones that go quickest are the classic rock and heavy metal albums. The store also will sell portable record players when it has them in stock.
“Kids like the older music,” she said.
At MC Maniacs, also on Washington Street, in a display case is a Jesus statue with changeable vestments, depending on the season.
Owner Eric Connery said he saw it at an auction and was taken by it because he loves to buy religious items. He said the item was made by Daprato, a studio with locations in Chicago and New York City that makes religious statues, including larger ones for churches.
The one in his shop stands about 2 feet tall, has hand-painted glass eyes and hand-sewn vestments made of velvet and silk.
“It’s really a unique piece,” Connery said. “It’s just beautifully done.”
It comes with several changes of clothes, and a crown decked out in jewels, similar to a papal tiara.
Daprato Rigali Studios still is in operation, making stained-glass windows, baptismal fonts and other church-related items
There are other religious items in his shop, including a collection of oil paintings from the early 20th century depicting Jesus in various poses and scenes.
“I like the iconography of it,” he said. “We don’t sell a lot of it, but I buy a lot of it.”
Around the corner on Liberty Street, you can find crystal balls at Rock Soul Love.
“Some people use them to see the future,” Colleen Nadas said. “I use them for decoration.”
They also can start fires, she said. If they are left in the sun, they can concentrate the sun’s rays on a specific area. But, when kept safely, they can be pleasant, she said.
“Some people say they have healing properties, but just having them around is nice,” she said.
The shop’s selection is itself an eclectic collection. Fossils, crystals and meteorites are all available.
Aimaro said the shops in Morris are good about helping each other and referring people to other stores that might have what the customer is looking for, or by helping promote the downtown when possible.
“They work together,” she said. “It’s a nice downtown.