Sunday, November 13, 2016

Supermarket Mysteries I: Decor

Supermarket Mysteries I: Decor

This post includes:
- Greenport IGA, Greenport, NY
- Key Food Marketplace, Beacon, NY
- Jack's Foodtown, North Arlington, NJ

The Greenport IGA

Image from Google Maps Street View.
The Greenport IGA seems normal enough from this Google Maps street view from 2012. Any seasoned supermarket expert will tell you right off the bat this is an A&P Centennial model, and they'd be right. That's not the mystery here.

Here's a close-up of the storefront taken by a family member. Seems average enough, right? Take a look inside through those windows.
First of all, that Customer Service sign looks like it belong in an Acme Theme Park store,  not a small IGA. (By the way, it's not from an Acme Theme Park store. Does anyone recognize it? I'm not too familiar with Long Island supermarkets, but it could be Waldbaum's or King Kullen, neither of which I know well.) But take a closer look at the signage on the walls.
You might notice that this picture actually shows more than the original. That's because I cropped out the person standing in front of the store, and the subject of the photo.
You might be wondering: what the heck does this have to do with anything? Be patient!

The Beacon Key Food

Let's head about 90 miles to the northwest to the small city of Beacon, NY. Now is as good a time as any to give a full tour of the Beacon, NY Key Food Marketplace, owned and operated since 2008 by Zayed "Junior" Dabashi, who lives in Beacon. Dabashi did a renovation when he first bought the store in 2008 but the store is currently undergoing a more extensive renovation with new fixtures, more upscale offerings, and a new floor.
Because of the property's setup, the receiving and garbage area has an unfortunate location right next to the entrance. Because of the renovation in progress when I visited back in May 2016, there was even more trash waiting to be taken away, including these old produce shelves. Ironically, many stores are putting in this type of shelving now, but these look like they're bound for the landfill. Heading inside...
I make it a point to pick up a circular at every supermarket I visit. For one reason or another, I completely forgot here! The deli (with its original Grand Union wood paneling behind) is immediately to the right when you enter. The new flooring is visible in these pictures, as well as the new produce bins. I believe the deli sign and awning are left from the 2008 remodel.
Okay, not quite with that "fresh produce" sign. In their defense, the produce is immediately to the right of the red service doors you can see here.
The first grocery aisle, with new aisle markers but no new floor yet.
The eighth, and last, aisle with frozen on the left in brand-new cases and dairy on the right in older cases. The new floor has been installed here.
The last aisle looking towards the back of the store.
The front left corner with baked goods and dairy. This store is too small to have a bakery. Notice this corner no longer has new flooring.
Before we head out, here's a picture of Dabashi, left, with Bob of Bob's Red Mill, right. This was hanging above a large display of Bob's Red Mill products.
A shot of the entire property, with Beacon's main street to the right.

Now, let's take a look at that decor put in, in 2008. Key Food Beacon, left, Greenport IGA, right.
Notice that both stores have the same decor package, exactly. Although the Key Food says "Baked Goods" on the sign, and the IGA says "Fresh [something, presumably 'Baked']", the sign, wall color, and patterned wallpaper are identical.

Jack's Foodtown North Arlington

Image from Google Maps.
In the town of North Arlington, NJ, just outside Newark, we see this small Jack's Foodtown store. It's a former Food Fair that was bought by Mayfair, a Foodtown operator, which was later bought out by Edwards. Jack's opened no later than 1994, but more likely in the late 1980s. Notice how the monument sign actually reads "Jack's Super Super Foodtown." Wow! That's one super, super store (that's about 20,000 square feet)! Actually, the older Foodtown logo did not include the word "super", as the newer one can. But let's take a look inside...

Okay, now you're seeing a pattern. Same decor, same signs, same color scheme. Here's where the mystery comes in.

Greenport IGA:

A&P > IGA (potentially something in between)
Owned by Charles Reickert (I think)

Key Food Beacon:

Grand Union > Beacon Farms > Key Food (previous owners) > Key Food Marketplace (Dabashi)
Owned by Zayed "Junior" Dabashi

Jack's Foodtown North Arlington:

Food Fair > Pantry Pride (?) > Mayfair Foodtown > Edwards > Jack's
Owned by Jack Shakoor

All of these stores were last renovated between 2005 and 2010. All have exactly the same decor package but none overlap or ever overlapped owners. Was this decor package sold as a "stock" decor package? That's the only explanation I can think of. Any input would be appreciated!


  1. A friend of mine that used to work for Foodtown corporate told me of the guidelines that dictated what stores could be classified as Super Foodtowns but I forget- all I know is that it wasn't based on size because there are small stores in the city that qualify as Super Foodtowns.

    1. I've been trying to find out what the difference between Super Foodtown and Foodtown is. According to a post by Noah Katz, the president of PSK Supermarkets, on Facebook, "We operate 14 stores (with Croton [the Croton-on-Hudson Foodtown]) called Freshtown, Foodtown, and Super Foodtown. Super Foodtown is the largest format and contains not only grocery, dairy and frozen food, but also every perishable department (Produce, Deli, Bakery, Seafood, Butcher Shop, Pharmacy, Organic and Natural Food, Vitamins and Supplements, Craft Beer, and more). Usually a Foodtown is a bit smaller and has a smaller assortment. Freshtown store are only up north in Dutchess and Delaware county, at this time."

  2. I'm pretty sure Jack's didn't open until the 2000's. After Edwards dumped the store, it was again a Foodtown and also an IGA for a time. I believe this iteration, as Jack's Foodtown, did not occur until around 2005 or maybe a bit after.

    1. I'm pretty sure that all happened slightly earlier than what you described. Edwards probably closed in the mid-90s, at which point Jack's moved in. The switch to IGA happened around 1998-99, when the Twin County scandal (they found out the CEO of the company that ran Foodtown was embezzling for his own company) was just beginning. Jack's, like other members, sensed that something was wrong and switched to IGA before the scandal fully broke. As you mentioned, Jack's switched back to Foodtown around 2004-05. So Jack's was actually around for the whole time, just under a few different names.