Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Elmora Farmers Market - Elizabeth, NJ

A Former Food Fair / Pantry Pride / Mayfair...

or at least half of one!


This store was built around 1968 (that date could be wrong, but it's in the right neighborhood) as a Food Fair, predating the nearby ShopRite / Pathmark / Food Bazaar by about eight years. (The nearby ShopRite didn't open until 1994.) It was converted to Pantry Pride soon after, closing by 1979. Mayfair Foodtown reopened the store almost immediately. I don't think this Mayfair store made it to the Ahold buyout in 2001, so I'm guessing it closed around 1995.

Cost Cutters, a chain owned by Drug Fair that went under in 2009, opened after virtually no interior or exterior renovations. This store made it as a Cost Cutters until that chain closed in 2009, at which point a complete renovation of the entire shopping center - including adding a strip of smaller stores along the side of the parking lot - was begun. The signature Food Fair arch was removed (it lasted until 2009!) and the entire facade was redone. I was relatively young when the store closed, but I remember the entire property being really rundown and depressing.

Image from ScaredyCatStalker.com. Taken in 2004.

Image from Google Maps Street View. Taken in 2016. The building is to the right.
Image from Google Maps Street View. Taken in 2009. The new stores are under construction here. (The small pizzeria and Chinese restaurant to the right did not close.)


Image from Google Maps Street View. Taken in 2007. And here we see the original Food Fair arch! Notice also how there is more parking lot than in the 2016 shot - the strip of smaller stores was not yet built then.

Today, the building has been expanded out the side towards Grand St., and is divided between Dollar General - which looks like any other Dollar General in the world - and the Elmora Farmers Market, a greengrocer that seems to be owned by the Ponti Group of Cranford, NJ, and that is close enough to a supermarket to be featured here.


Upon entering, you make a right to enter the expansive produce department. It stretches all the way to the back of the store, where it meets the meat, seafood, and deli departments along the back wall. The dairy/frozen section is along the left side wall and there is a floral department in the front left corner, with a few grocery aisles in the center and a few registers in the front.

Above: Immediately inside the entrance looking towards the back of the store.

There is also merchandise stacked along the front wall and the side wall before the refrigerator cases begin.

While the prices here are almost always better than a supermarket (the quality is usually much more questionable), they aren't always: bananas here range from $0.29/lb - ridiculously cheap - to $0.79/lb - fairly expensive. Unlike a supermarket, this store will generally price its products by taking their cost and adding a certain percentage markup. So, the prices might change almost daily.

There is, as you can see, absolutely no decor in the entire store. The flooring is extremely dirty and faded white vinyl tile, which is likely to be left from at least Mayfair, but possibly Pantry Pride.

The produce cases are also very old, but most likely from a closed store elsewhere (or a remodeled store).

It's actually a very small store. We're standing in the first aisle here looking towards the far wall.

The seafood counter is to the right above, the meat counter where the post is, and the deli counter under the hanging Board's Head sign.

The very large seafood counter, which consists of seafood out on ice, is straight ahead. The meat counter runs perpendicular to this counter to the left, with the deli parallel to this counter on the far side. The nearby Food Bazaar supermarket also has a huge seafood selection of fish on ice, but I feel like Food Bazaar's seafood department is cleaner and better kept than this one.

The seafood counter is to my right here.

Some people might not mind it, but the cardboard boxes stacked everywhere bothers me a little bit.

Here is the meat counter, with the seafood counter in an L shape to my right, and the deli on the left.

The last aisle has frozen foods, dairy, baked goods, and floral.
Notice the random assortment of shopping carts around this store, like many small urban supermarkets. When they first opened, all the carts were former Weis carts that still said Weis. Eventually, most of the Weis logos were scratched out; now, the carts seem to be a senseless grouping of rejects from anywhere else.

There are also a few grocery aisles with traditional grocery products, and a heavy emphasis on Latin groceries.
This store has no storebrand per se, but seems to carry whatever brands it can get its hands on. The day these pictures were taken, there happened to be Krasdale and Red & White in stock, but I've also seen many other brands here.
Taking a tip from Acme Style, let's head up into the air. . .
Over time, not much has changed.
2013
2010 - Under construction.
2006 - Notice the strip of stores has not been built.
The place to be in 1987!
1979
1970
1966 - Not yet built. The building pictured here might be a supermarket, though.
Pathmark under construction in 1966. It would open as a ShopRite later that year, then be converted to Pathmark in 1968.
1954
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
PM/FB in the bottom right, EFM on the left, and SR just past it on the right.

Across the street there is a former 1940s A&P now operating as the 99c & Discount Depot.
Image from Google Maps Street View.

Is the Elmora Farmers Market a totally unique, must-see experience? No, but it's a perfectly valid greengrocer in half of an old Mayfair/Pantry Pride/Food Fair. While it's nice to see low-priced fresh products in an urban area like Elizabeth, it's certainly not anything special.

Elmora Farmers Market

190 Elmora Ave, Elizabeth, NJ 07207
Open Daily 8:30AM-9PM
My Rating:

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