Whole Foods Market
Opened: ca. 2005
Previous Tenants: Pathmark
Location: 235 Prospect Ave, West Orange, NJ
Photographed: June & September 2016 and December 2020
In this unnamed shopping mall just up the street from the larger and busier Essex Green Mall, which contains West Orange's ShopRite, we find a rather odd combination of a Whole Foods and a Kmart (which closed in 2020). It makes a lot more sense when we learn that the 66,000 square foot junior anchor space was previously a Pathmark.
The store underwent a renovation in late 2016, and I have a full tour from June 2016 before the renovation started along with some pictures from September 2016 when it was in progress. The renovation was fairly minor, replacing the decor that seemed perfectly fine to me with new decor that seems equally fine to me. We're going to tour the store, then revisit it in December of 2020 for post-remodel pictures.
Okay, except for one thing that did really change. The renovation cut the size of the produce department way back. The case to the left here, which backs up to the grocery aisles, was removed entirely. Floral and customer service are just to the left of the entrance, with produce lining the first aisle. Service meat and seafood line the back wall, with the standard deli-bakery-prepared foods in the last aisle, and a coffee shop at the front of the last aisle. If I remember correctly, the meat and seafood counters were also shifted to the left to make room for a relocated cheese department at the end of the first aisle where butcher used to be.
Looking from floral across the front-end to the left of the entrance.
Meat and seafood are at the back of the first aisle.
Large seafood counter has since been downsized to make way for the cheese department in this corner.
Butcher shop on the back wall with a very large health and beauty section in front of it.
Looking across the store's middle dividing aisle, with health and beauty to the right and grocery aisles to the left.
This store has one of the most deluxe Whole Body health and beauty departments I've seen in any Whole Foods.
Cheese and butcher line the back wall pre-renovation.
Moving towards the last aisle, we have dairy and bulk foods in the back corner.
Bulk foods have since been moved to the first aisle with produce.
Moving into the last aisle, we have the customary prepared foods counters lining the outside wall and bakery/coffee shop in the front corner, and self-serve bars in the middle.
Looking towards the front wall of the store.
A nice bakery with an attached coffee shop and gelato bar rounds out the last aisle.
And here's a look across the front-end before we move into the renovation-in-progress pictures from September 2016...
One row of produce cases has been removed to make way for the new bulk foods department.
Meanwhile, much of the rest of the produce department had been cleared out for a reset. You can also see here how the decor had been removed but nothing new had been added yet.
Seafood department removed at the back of the first aisle, and relocated just to the left in part of the former meat department.
The cheese and butcher departments had largely been covered over temporarily as they were remodeled.
Meanwhile, the grocery aisles had stayed mostly the same during the renovation.
And inexplicably, this and most Whole Foods I've been to still use open coffin cases in the freezer departments. Nearly every other competitor is installing upright cases with doors in their frozen aisles.
The last aisle had not yet been touched by the renovation.
I believe the only major change made here in the renovation, other than a decor swap, was the addition of a small ramen bar at the back.
A shot of the service bakery which I failed to include in the original tour.
Another look across the front-end of this store before we move on to the post-renovation pictures from December 2020...
The exterior has not been touched.
Produce department now only in the lower-ceiling area on the far right side of the first aisle. The left side has been switched over to a standard grocery aisle.
Looking towards the back, and looking towards the front...
You can just catch a glimpse of bulk foods in the far right side of that picture. We're looking up towards floral and customer service in front of the entrance and exit. I must say, I like the new decor very much except for the fact that all the walls are blank and white. The department lettering is awesome.
Cheese counter at the back of the produce aisle. Seafood and butcher looking great along the rest of the back wall...
Opposite these counters, remaining in the same place as before the remodel, is the Whole Body health and beauty department. As I said, this was and remains one of the most deluxe I've ever seen.
And the grocery aisles are split, with the food items in the front half. It might actually be more like 2/3.
Looking across the middle of the store to the last aisle.
Heading back over to butcher and seafood from the other side.
Very cool custom aisle markers with the West Orange specific branding. Where nonfoods are in the back half of the grocery aisles, frozen foods are in the front part.
Dairy starts in the back corner on the back wall, and then continues down the back half of the last aisle.
And in the front half, we have the deli-prepared foods area with bakery and cafe in the front. A ramen and sushi bar, a pizza station, and a burger station line the outside walls with self-serve bars in the middle.
Then comes the bakery in the front part of the last aisle.
The coffee and juice bar is next in the front corner of the store.
And what was previously the cafe seating along the front wall of the store had been switched over to a Prime staging area for the shoppers to assemble and place the complete orders. I've been to a few Whole Foods since the beginning of the pandemic to see these changes, and I must say I find them extremely unsettling. The whole thing is a little too sci-fi for me. (New Jersey, by the time I took these pictures, did allow indoor dining but I guess the Whole Foods folks figured this would be more profitable.)
A look across the front end. That's all for this extremely exhaustive store tour, and up next we're heading into the southern part of Montclair for a look at a former supermarket over on Grocery Archaeology!