Monday, June 12, 2017

TOUR: Bell Farms - Belleville, NJ plus...

We're here at the brand-new Bell Farms Supermarket in Belleville, NJ. It replaced a Fine Fare that replaced a Food Basics that replaced an A&P that replaced a Foodtown that replaced a Grand Union. Hopefully Bell Farms can figure out what it takes in this location. However, they're off to a rocky start:
  • The store is owned by Kevin Kim, who also owned the now-closed Food Emporium/Superfresh in Garwood, and the quickly-failing Superfresh in Edison.
  • The storefront reads Bell Farm Supermarkets. There is only one Bell Farm location so far. The circular, Facebook page, and website read "Bell Farms".
  • The aisle markers are from the Garwood location, and the name has been covered by black tape.
  • Not a single cart actually says Bell Farms.
  • Although there is no evidence this is a Superfresh store, it uses ONLY the Superfresh rewards card program.
Regardless, it's actually a pretty good store. Certainly it's much better than the Fine Fare that preceded it.

The Fine Fare pictures are from June 18, 2016, and the Bell Farms pictures from almost one year later, June 4, 2017.
BEFORE
 Fine Fare never actually got a real sign, just a banner that they placed over the old Food Basics sign. Bell Farms then added a COMING SOON banner directly on top of the Fine Fare banner on top of the Food Basics sign.

BEFORE
AFTER
One thing that has not changed is the random assortment of carts. Fine Fare used a combination of old Food Basics carts and others from Extra Supermarket, a local 5-store chain.
BEFORE
Bell Farms kept some of the Food Basics carts, and brought in carts from the closed Garwood location. Some still say Pathmark; others say Food Emporium. The majority of the carts are older-looking carts that all match, with their names scratched out. There were some oddballs, though.
AFTER
Most of the carts were this type above.
Here we see a green Food Basics cart with a blue Pathmark cart with Food Emporium stickers. The grey metal cart behind the green one is from yet another store, with its name removed. The cart in the far back with the solid red handle is part of a set of European carts that were brand-new back when Garwood opened. They originally said Food Emporium and the name has been removed for Bell Farms.
I'd love to know the history here!
BEFORE
When you entered Fine Fare, there was a cart-storage foyer immediately inside to your right. This has been removed, and I believe is now prep space for the service bakery. The sign above is entirely original from Food Basics, just with a Fine Fare decal.
BEFORE
Fine Fare had the Food Basics decor entirely intact. It's pretty much gone in Bell Farms.
BEFORE
AFTER
Above we see the much-improved Bell Farms produce department. Both of these pictures are almost immediately inside the entrance looking towards the back of the store. I love the new track lighting.
BEFORE
Looking towards the entrance.
AFTER
The front corner is now floral.
BEFORE
 
AFTER
Bell Farms has added a service bakery department along the front wall of the store, and a row of service departments in an island between produce and the grocery aisles. There is a juice bar, a sushi counter, a hot food bar, and a service deli in the island.
BEFORE
AFTER
I do wish there were some actual decor here, not just pictures (which are nice enough, but disappear after the first aisle) and the sale posters (which are just strange).
BEFORE
This strange area between Fine Fare's (small) produce department and the packaged bakery/deli area seemed to be under construction, and was the only sign of any work being done in the entire store. When I visited it was simply blocked with product displays.
BEFORE
The wall along the back of the grand aisle was taken up by large displays of rice and other stackable items. Get ready for the after...
AFTER
Bell Farms has added a very large seafood counter along that entire back wall area. Notice also that Bell Farms' produce department extends all the way to the back of the store, while Fine Fare's was significantly smaller. Oh, and if that "Chesapeake Seafood Co" sign looks familiar, it is.
AFTER
Looking from the front of the produce aisle towards the back. You can get an idea of the size here.
AFTER
Despite the produce department's large size, it was fully stocked. There were no empty shelves or cop-outs where there were three cases of broccoli. Unfortunately, there was no organic produce in the whole department. There were, however, at the time of my visit, ten different, distinct varieties of apples to the West Orange Whole Foods' eight -- pretty impressive! (Although the recent renovation at that store did bring a drastic reduction in the size and scope of the produce department.)
AFTER
Looking up towards the front of the store.
AFTER
Behind the tower of apples is the deli/hot food counter.
AFTER
I wish they had painted the ceiling, which is a little dingy. Dark brown would have worked well, or just repaint it white.
AFTER
Gotta love Kevin Kim's consistency. It's a Bell Farms store with Superfresh and Food Emporium-labeled products. Oh well.
BEFORE
In Fine Fare, the dairy section began about halfway across the back wall, with meat being in the front half. Bell Farms has reduced the dairy section to only the back corner and part of the last aisle, and has added another aisle by installing shelving perpendicular to the grocery aisles, parallel to the back wall, dividing this back aisle in half.
AFTER
Bell Farms has also added a service meat counter along the back wall.
BEFORE
 
AFTER
Not much to see here in grocery. Aside from the facts that Bell Farms is better stocked than Fine Fare, the prices are lower, and there are more organic and specialty selections, the grocery department really hasn't changed. The shelving is left from Food Basics.
AFTER
Nice Bob's Red Mill selection!
Looking along the back aisle. The seafood department is ahead and to the left, with meat behind these displays. And again, if those aisle markers look familiar ... they are. Even the Potatoes Chips sign made it through the transition.
BEFORE
A similar view, looking towards the aisles, from Fine Fare.
AFTER
Looking back towards produce along the back of the store.
BEFORE
 AFTER
I actually didn't notice the discrepancy in aisle numbers (Fine Fare had 10 aisles, but Bell Farms has 11) when I was in the store. Styertowne over on Flickr can probably fill me in here...
BEFORE
All the promotional signage is gone. Notice how this person is now telling people NOT to shop in this store! At least Key Food Fairview (also a Kevin Kim store) created false quotes by adding stickers over Food Basics.
AFTER
Yes, the ceiling could use a paint job. The aisle markers could also use some contents - I have a feeling there is more in Aisle 11 than Jello and Ice Cream Cones. Furthermore, why would you group those two on an aisle marker? How about Jello and Pudding, or Ice Cream and Cones?
BEFORE
 Up along the front end, there's a strange alcove with additional freezer cases along the front wall. I would bet this was something else originally.
BEFORE
The checkouts are on the other side of this wall. I don't seem to have gotten a picture of this area after, but there have been no changes.
AFTER
Like Olive Tree, this store is selling some Urban Meadow products.
BEFORE
AFTER
Bell Farms has added a customer service counter immediately past the bakery along the front wall, or where the Capri Sun display is in the Fine Fare picture. Otherwise the front end is pretty much identical. HABA has been added along the front wall past the checkouts like many Food Bazaars.

On the outside, not much has changed either.
BEFORE
AFTER
I think the plural "supermarkets" is wishful thinking. They're planning to reopen the Garwood location, with a smaller footprint, as another Bell Farms, but that will be in the future.
Bell Farms has a substantial amount of produce outside along with the signature watermelon display under a newly-constructed overhang on the far side of the store. There is additional parking around the corner.

While I wouldn't say Bell Farms is a destination, it's certainly a solid, full-service supermarket that is miles ahead of the Fine Fare it replaced. Only time will tell whether this is a flop like Garwood or Edison, but it seems fairly promising to begin with.

Bell Farms Supermarket

414 Main St, Belleville, NJ 07109
Open Daily 7AM-11PM
http://www.bellfarmsfresh.com/
(973) 844-1025
My Rating:

5 comments:

  1. I like how you formatted this post with the before and after photos!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Retail Retell! I actually don't have pictures of many stores before and after some change, but I think I do have a few more. I'll probably use the same format.

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    2. You're welcome! Sounds good :)

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  2. I know Winn-Dixie has recently been switching out those black carts (which weren't very old to begin with) with new silver ones that look almost the same. That store listed on the cart directory is still open, so that store was probably one of the ones to retire the black carts. How that cart made it to New Jersey, though, is beyond me!

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    Replies
    1. Funny how several stores around here are bringing in those black carts (and similar ones) in favor of older silver ones! And I don't get the NJ use either.

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