Saturday, December 30, 2017

Gourmet Market of the Month!


Sun Sweet Fresh Market is a large convenience store or small grocery store located at 838 6 Ave, Manhattan, NY. It has a large selection of prepared foods with service counters -- enough selection that just about anyone would find something they like! The photo is deceptive since it's actually much larger than it appears from the outside.
Similar stores are popping up all around New York City. I chose this one because it has more of a grocery selection than many others do. Google street view, 2014.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Snapshot: Former Grand Union - Saugerties, NY

The Hudson Valley was one of the places where Grand Union was strongest. This store in Saugerties, NY made it to the end, and closed in the bankruptcy of 2001. It was taken over by C&S Wholesale Grocers and operated for a brief time as a Grand Union Family Market before closing.
The Grand Union was all the way on the right of this mall, where the Big Lots is now. Big Lots moved in after Family Markets left. Just up the street from this store is the Price Chopper in Saugerties.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Snapshot: What's Inside Matters

...but obviously the folks at Food Bazaar didn't quite get the message.
The ingredients, according to this package, are:
...and it may contain fish. Yum!

This list of orthographical oddities has been replaced with simply "butter croissant" on some newer packages.

Monday, December 25, 2017

TOUR: Twin City Supermarket - Elizabeth, NJ

Merry Christmas!

All the time we see supermarkets opening up in former drug stores, department stores, warehouses, and of course former supermarkets. But I think this is a new one for me.
The Twin City Arena in Elizabeth, New Jersey was so named due to its location right on the border of Newark. Read more and see more pictures here and here. The above picture was taken from the first link. Got an idea of the history? Great! Let's check out the supermarket now.
 Cuban immigrants Alfonso and Myrna Perez came to the US in 1972 and began working in produce distribution, according to Twin City's website. The husband-and-wife team opened their first supermarket, this location in Elizabeth, in 1985. This building also houses their corporate offices, and a building across the parking lot serves as the warehouse for the Twin City group, which now includes two other stores owned by Perez (Twin City Supermarket in Plainfield and Pueblo Supermarket in Newark), an independently-owned Twin City Supermarket in Newark, and the separately-owned Aquí Market chain (with locations at Journal Square and on the Bayonne border in Jersey City and another in Bridgewater). The various Twin City group owners also co-own Superfood Fresh Market in Middlesex. Perez is the president of this group, called Twin City Supermarkets, Inc.

You can see in the photo above that the setting of the store is actually pretty pleasant. It's located just out of the main intersection, Newark Ave and North Ave, where there is a Stop & Shop.
As usual, the photo is from Google Maps. Newark Ave, to the right above, will take you straight to Broad Street in downtown Elizabeth -- or what they now call "Historic Midtown". Give me a break. The Stop & Shop was built as an Edwards Super Food Store in the 1990s, then Stop & Shop opened in the early 2000s. The large empty lot was previously the factory for Burry Biscuit, Burry's Biscuits, or Burry Biscuits, depending on who you ask. This was a huge cookie factory which burned down in 2011. My great-uncle worked here for decades, and when my uncle was in the Marines, my grandmother would go to the Bakery Outlet store across the street to buy damaged cookies that couldn't be sold for very low prices, then send them to him. The property is slated to be redeveloped into a multi-use retail/residential/office complex.

A note on the neighborhood: about where the "k" in Newark on my map above is, Newark begins (and continues to the left). Newark Ave becomes Frelinghuysen Ave, which goes towards downtown Newark. I would not recommend visiting this store via Frelinghuysen Ave, as the neighborhood gets progressively worse as you go into Newark. The neighborhood where this store is located, however, is perfectly fine.

Now for the store...
The park between Twin City and Newark Ave gives it a more peaceful feeling.
The approach is impressive!
The roller rink's entrance would have faced Sherman Ave (the side street we're driving on here), but the supermarket's entrance and exit instead face the parking lot. Oh, and ignore that sign that says Discount Store -- Twin City is NOT a discount store!
Management and corporate offices are on the second floor, hence the windows.
It's an awesome building!
The real storefront faces the parking lot on the side. You see Twin City's delivery vans all over Elizabeth!
This sign and the signage facing the parking lot is very new, installed recently to coincide with a renovation inside.
I got lucky with a great sky that day! Heading in, you turn right to the produce department, which lines this side wall above. Dairy is along the back wall, with meat, seafood, and deli in the last aisle and checkouts along the front wall (facing Sherman Ave). Past the checkouts is customer service, and a counter with hot food and bakery items. The majority of the store is where the actual roller rink would have been, which is just a big empty room anyway! We'll see some of the adaptations they had to make shortly.
Looking along the side wall, the parking lot is to my right. You walk into a bright, open, and extremely clean space with lots of color. In the recent renovations, the walls were painted bright colors, which really livens up the store. The pictures running along the top of the produce cases were also installed.
Great signage. I like the wood texture on these.
Looking back up towards the entrance, which is to my left. The lower-ceiling area is where the hot food/bakery counter is.
The store is extremely long, so produce only takes up the first half of the first aisle. The rest is the ever-present Wall of Values. The sign on the wall to the right says Prohibida la entrada en el almacen si no eres empleado, which roughly translates to Entrance to the store is prohibited if you are not employed, which I think refers to the door to the backroom directly below the sign, so it's basically saying Employees Only. (A native Spanish speaker will have to back me up on that.)
Some of the back wall is taken up by more Wall of Values, but there are dairy coolers at the far end. Notice the interesting wall structures to the right here, likely left over from the roller rink.
I loved how clean and clear the aisles where. They're extremely long, though! I might have added a center aisle pass-through.
A surprisingly large selection of HABA, general merchandise, and housewares is probably due to the fact that there is no general-merchandise store like a dollar store or Walmart -- or even a drugstore -- in this neighborhood.
Like many stores, the milk is along the back wall. Unlike many stores, the entire cooler is on the sales floor:
I can't say I've ever seen that one before! Must be something about the building's layout that they couldn't install it into the wall. Or they just couldn't afford it to begin with.
The last aisle has the remainder of the dairy cases, then (under the red awning) the deli, meat, and seafood counters.
The flooring is kind of crazy here, but in excellent condition. Frozen foods line the opposite side of the last aisle, with a row of coffin cases in front of a row of brand-new upright cases.
The front-end is clean, organized, WIDE ENOUGH, and well-staffed (ahem, Acme).
The large window onto the sales floor on the right is likely left over from the roller rink, but is now where the managers' offices are. And speaking of managers, as I was checking out, I realized that standing along the front-end was (now 86-year-old) Alfonso Perez, in his jeans and baseball cap, apparently with nothing else to do on a Saturday evening! Clearly he is well-known and well-liked by everyone around, as he greeted many shoppers who probably live in the neighborhood and know him. Kudos to him...I hope I'm doing as well as he is when I'm 86!
To my surprise, every cart in the store was an actual Twin City cart (save for one Stop & Shop one, which made it way across the street at one point or another). The one on the left here is clearly the newer one, but they are actually the same model of cart and all match very well.
Twin City Warehouse, I believe, services all of the Twin City group's stores. I've seen these trucks on the road also. The building behind the truck is the warehouse.
One last look at the back of the building, which has been recently repainted as well.

Stop & Shop opened in the Edwards store fully expecting to crush Twin City and put them out of business within months. Over fifteen years later, that hasn't happened and there's no signs that it will. Why? Well, Twin City is a good operation. They know what they're doing and do it well. But I can assure you this is also a factor: go into a Stop & Shop on a Saturday evening and you will not, I can tell you for a fact, find the president of the company in his jeans and baseball cap greeting customers.

Twin City Supermarket

Twin City Supermarkets Inc.
1016 Sherman Ave, Elizabeth, NJ 07208
Open Daily 8AM-10PM
(908) 558-1166
My Rating:

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Commercial of the Month!


Pathmark has savings all over!
1982 Pathmark commercial from Video Archaeology on Youtube.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Snapshot: Elizabethtown, NY!

Ever heard of Elizabethtown, NY? Probably not. A town of just over 1300 people, it's situated in the far-upstate Adirondack region of New York State. It's just off of the New York Thruway. I stopped for lunch at a pizzeria in town. I was not aware at the time that there was a Tops in a former Grand Union just down the street from where I ate.

However, upon entering Bub's Pizza & Deli, I quickly noticed the old pictures of Elizabethtown on the walls. Among the pictures were shots of a street-front Grand Union and A&P. When I left the restaurant, it didn't take long to determine where the stores were. Turns out Bub's was actually the A&P and the GU was two doors down!
Different kind of before-and-after! Clearly the facade has changed, and it looks like the building has been expanded to the left.
Definitely click on the old pictures to zoom in. You have to see all the details! So GU and A&P (both defunct now, of course) were separated only by Carpenter's 5 & Dime.
Close-up on the GU storefront's windows. How about those prices?
The A&P, today Bub's Pizza & Deli. There was also one shot of another, unidentified Grand Union location. Can anyone provide any info?
Pretty cool!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Look Inside: D'Agostino - Gramercy Park

We're back in Gramercy Park, Manhattan for a quick look at a D'Agostino Supermarket that is clearly past its prime...
...way past its prime. It's obvious that this store was the coolest, most modern thing around when it opened, but that was probably at least 20 years ago. (Notice that the green and red stripes are actually 3-D strips set a few inches in front of the black panel.)
A quick look at the frozen foods aisle, the last aisle in the store. It's pretty closely representative of the entire store. Somewhat cool, somewhat dingy, not bad but not great either. At least my cashier was very friendly.

Monday, December 18, 2017

TOUR: ShopRite - Garwood, NJ

Village Super Market is one of the largest Wakefern members, with 29 stores in three states. It's also the only Wakefern member that publicly trades its stock. Accordingly, the stores often feel very corporate. In the time that I've been interested in supermarkets (the last 10 years or so), Village has almost always been among the worst ShopRite operators around in my opinion. However, very recently, Village has really been stepping up its operations: cleaning up stores, improving management, and diversifying its selections. That's not to say Village is perfect -- far from it -- but it's nice to see improvement. This store, in Garwood, NJ, is a perfect example.
Opened in 2001 but planned as early as 1995, the Garwood ShopRite was a virtual twin to the Elizabeth, NJ location. However, Garwood is a far more upscale town than nearby Elizabeth and the competition is a Pathmark-turned-failed Food Emporium and a Kings.
Thus, the Garwood ShopRite is much more upscale and has been renovated more than Elizabeth. It's a beautiful store when it comes down to it, but the parking lot is awful. With just one entrance and exit, there's always a traffic jam. (Hence the heavy promotion of the parking lot for the Food Emporium.)
Interesting that the storefront says "Garwood ShopRite" and this monument sign says "ShopRite Garwood". Most stores just say "ShopRite", so I'm not sure what the story is here.

The layout is pretty simple. The store's side faces the street, and the front faces the parking lot. It's deeper than it is wide, so the first aisle is produce and lining the right-side wall, bakery, seafood, and prepared foods with deli and meat at the back of the grand aisle. Meats run along the back wall and dairy is in the last aisle. The photos here were from my visit in August of 2017.
Looking towards the entrance. Bakery is immediately inside the entrance. All the produce cases to the left here are new, and the walls are newly painted.
The store looks very dark in these pictures, but it's actually very bright and open in person. I think that's because of the windows behind the service counters to the left.
Standard seafood counter. The decor features cartoony pictures of small-town businesses: bakery, butcher, farm, etc., which ties into the Village Super Market name.
Nice floral department neat the back. Elizabeth's has been significantly downsized.
Prepared foods looking back towards deli.
Bistro Street, the forerunner of Village Food Garden, is the prepared foods department. Village Food Garden is the very upscale food-court brand for Village, but some stores also have Bistro Streets and others have ShopRite Kitchens, a cooperative-wide brand.
Looking back towards the entrance.
Looking back towards deli is a large olive bar and...
Perhaps the smallest food court I've ever seen in a supermarket. Obviously the store takes pride in it though!
Looking back towards the entrance.
This picture gives a good overview of the grand aisle and you can see how spacious it is. I wish they'd kept the open ceiling over the whole store, but it's fine. This also gives you an idea of how bright the store actually is.
Meat is next to the deli along the back wall.
The walls were recently repainted, as they used to be a kind of dingy yellowish beige. The aisle markers are also new here.
The grocery aisles feel a lot like Elizabeth. Not much to say here.
The aisles are divided by a center aisle because they are so long, just like Elizabeth.
The ceiling is slightly higher above the center aisle.
Meat and dairy along the back wall.
What's cool about these refrigerator cases is, like the ones at the Airmont ShopRite, they're open cases with doors added. Everyone should be doing this! I do wish there was something on that blank wall to the right.
Nice upgraded pharmacy with wood texture and gold lettering. Closed on Sunday afternoons.
Nice but cluttered front-end with exposed ceiling. I'm not a fan of the suspended tile section over the checkouts because as usual, there are water stains and damaged tiles.
I do think these huge circular light fixtures are pretty cool, though. They shine up onto the ceiling. In the alcove behind the pharmacy is where the store runs their ShopRite from Home service, which is online shopping.
I do appreciate also that the floor has been refinished recently, although I don't love the vinyl tile. It's possible that the floor in the grand aisle has been replaced by now, as Village has been doing that in many of the stores. Garwood is a very nice store and I can say it's been seriously improved since even a few months ago, but the parking is in the bottom five worst stores I've ever been to.


563 North Ave, Garwood, NJ
Open Sun-Wed 7AM-10PM; Thu-Sat 7AM-11PM
My Rating: