The Rise & Fall of the Imperium
Fresh Emporium / Fresh Imperium, Jefferson, NJ
Fresh Emporium promoted itself online (on their Facebook account) prior to the opening as an upscale, natural and gourmet food market. This outfit suffered from what is known in marketing and psychology as the expectancy violations theory, which basically says that when people are expecting one thing and get another, they will be disappointed. So when the store opened as a cleaner (at the beginning) version of Pathmark, virtually everyone was disappointed. I originally thought that the group at least had some promise for the future, but after a short yet painful decline, both stores went out of business, Landing in February 2017 and Jefferson in May 2017.
Ruby S. on Yelp summed up the feelings about the Landing location pretty well towards the end:
"Reviewing for the Landing location:
"Why? Just why? Why even bother? Because you got a good deal on a closed supermarket?
"I don't even know where to start.
"1) It's just a god damn mess. They put barely any effort into getting this place ready. It's dingy, it's grimey, it's disgusting. The shelves are bare. And they still are using Pathmark's old red white and blue fixtures! You can see faint outlines of "Pathmark" everywhere. Just embarrassing.
"2) Horribly expensive to the point where it's just rude. Not to mention most of the price tags are hand written on scrap paper. I can't make this up.
"3) Used to be called Fresh Emporium until Food Emporium threatened to sue so they just took that word down and put up some cheap sign that says "Imperium". Imperium? Imperium? Obviously the owner is not a master of the English language.
"This place is pure trash and I think it's offensive to people of Landing who lost a decent supermarket. Not to mention jobs. And to replace it with this garbage dump that gauges prices. it's screwed up.
But let's turn back the clock...when I visited the Jefferson (the better of the two) location last May, it was just a huge, spacious store with some limited stock and decent prices. It had hope to become something better than what it was then.
The exterior looks promising enough. I'm impressed that they actually bothered to re-stucco the facade where the Pathmark logo was. You can still see where the outline was, as is the case with most of these facade redos. (Although it's not quite fair to compare this store to the LIC Food Bazaar, which looks like this inside.)
At this point I still was not aware this place was 100% Pathmark inside. I thought the facade was a good sign because it wasn't entirely different, but still fresh and new enough. This was the first bad sign...
Yes, that's a Pathmark sign with the Fresh Emporium logo stuck on a stripe over the Pathmark logo.
Entering, you head straight into the produce aisle with grocery aisles to your right and the pharmacy/HABA section to your left. Meat, seafood, deli/hot food and milk are in that order along the back wall, with dairy in the last aisle and a tiny bakery in the front opposite the entrance.
If you didn't know this was a former Pathmark, it's a perfectly nice shot of the produce department. The black track lighting might be new, as some of the cases are. But the rest of the store is quite Pathmark-y.
HABA section to the left of the entrance. Note the badly-patched floor in the foreground and the huge, space-filling display of boxed water!
Looking over towards the sparsely-stocked HABA department, most of which was probably just left over from Pathmark. The manager's office and then the pharmacy are along the wall to the left, which is the front wall.
The entrance is visible here, as well as the small floral department and the checkouts along the front. The bins here are new.
Strangely enough, this has been my most-viewed photo on Flickr for a long time. I don't get it! Here we have a random display area and then the old manager's office to the right. Fresh Emporium didn't seem to be using it.
No pharmacy here! I truly wonder if they ever actually planned to open these pharmacies; the fact that the signs got Fresh Emporium stickers makes me think they did. The entire pharmacy area was filled with carts overflowing with random merchandise, maybe extra stock they're not selling. This seems like too much for returns for their first weekend in business! One Yelp review actually complained about the lack of shopping carts here, so this seems like a strange choice of use for the carts.
The transition was much better in Jefferson than Landing, as many references to Pathmark remained in Landing. I only found one here.
Looking towards the back wall of the store from the front pharmacy area.
This sign had its yellow SAVE banner removed - the only one in this store. All of the yellow signs had been removed at Landing.
The rest of the signs here in Jefferson had these with Fresh Emporium stickers.
Looking from HABA over to produce and beyond that, the grocery aisles.
Well, they had plenty of shampoo, anyway.
...and plenty of Pathmark price tags left over. Actually that's a great price; I just paid $1.50 for a hass avocado earlier today!
In the grocery aisles, it was a very Pathmark-like experience. The storebrand was now White Rose instead of America's Choice...but that's a minor difference! I think this store did actually have a better organic/natural/specialty selection than Pathmark would have, but still not as good as the average ShopRite or even Food Bazaar.
Based on my internet research, I have the following stores listed as Neftali Medina-owned locations:
- This store, Fresh Emporium/Fresh Imperium, 757 NJ-15, Jefferson, NJ; opened 2016, closed 2017
- Fresh Emporium/Fresh Imperium, 175 Lakeside Blvd, Landing, NJ; opened 2016, closed 2017
- Freehold Fresh Market/Met Fresh, 597 Park Ave, Freehold, NJ; opened 2015, closed 2017
- Pioneer Supermarket, 250 Willis Ave, Bronx, NY; Medina may not own this store anymore, but a very poorly-written LinkedIn profile of Medina identifies him as the president of 250 Meat & Produce Corp., which is probably either this location or the Easton Food Market at 250 Line St in Easton, PA, but that didn't feel like a Neftali Medina store.
- Met Foods, 1869 Archer St, Bronx, NY; this is now a Bravo and may be under a different owner now.
- Pioneer Supermarket, 1345 Castle Hill Ave, Bronx, NY
- Compare Foods, 250 Cypress Ave, Bronx, NY
- Met Foods, 228 Brook Ave, Bronx, NY
- Fine Fare, 1018 Morris Park Ave, Bronx, NY; now is Big Deal Foodtown under a new owner
- There may have also been another location at 1010 Morris Ave, Bronx, NY, as the location at 1018 Morris Park Ave was owned by 1010 Morris Food Corp.
I wonder what will be moving into either of these Fresh Emporium locations, since they're far out of the busy urban areas, whose supermarkets were mostly filled quickly. I could see Weis taking one or both of these stores, but they'd have to invest a lot of money to bring them up to standards.
Fresh Emporium (NOW CLOSED)757 NJ-15 S, Jefferson, NJ 07849
My Rating: ★★☆☆☆