ShopRite of West Long Branch
Owner: Richard Saker / Saker Supermarkets
Owner: Richard Saker / Saker Supermarkets
Previous Tenants: none
Cooperative: Wakefern Food Corp.
Location: 145 Monmouth Rd, West Long Branch, NJ
Photographed: January 2021
Here we go with our first "shore" ShopRite! Like so many ShopRites in this part of the state, the West Long Branch store is owned by Saker Supermarkets, but is not their latest prototype. In fact, this one is a few models ago, having been built in 1973 as a replacement for a gorgeous arched-roof store nearby. Most of the Saker stores have one of the latest three prototypes -- see #1 (~2010s), #2 (~2000s), and #3 (~1990s). If my memory serves me, only this store, Edison, and Freehold remain with the 1970s design. The interior, however, has been remodeled, probably last in the 90s. I think it's fairly likely Saker is preparing to move over to the former Kmart space just across the street. (That's our other store for the day, since it also had a supermarket at one point!)
Despite the store's age, it's still a whopping 72,000 square feet. It's more than doubled in size from an original 34,000 square foot building that's still buried in there somewhere, as it's been expanded possibly as many as five times. As we'll see, that makes for some... interesting layout choices. There's an entrance at either end of the front wall, with the one on the left bringing customers in to the grand aisle with deli/prepared foods on the left side, produce in the first aisle, floral in the middle of the entranceway, and the bakery and Nutrition Center in the front left corner of the store. Seafood and meat are on the back wall. The right side entrance brings customers in to the pharmacy, with a plethora of odd corners leading customers through three different expansions with dairy, frozen, and nonfoods. Let's head in on the left...
An awesome giant fake tree welcomes us to the store's floral department. You can see the front end continuing along the front wall behind the tree. Produce extends into the store straight back from the entrance...
Turning around to our left about 180 degrees, we have the entrance to the Nutrition Center, which actually extends on the side of the strip mall, forming a small tip of an L-shape.
The Nutrition Center here is certainly less flashy than at the newer and larger stores, but complete nonetheless. Unlike Hazlet, for instance, which is linked above, the nutrition center does not include the pharmacy and HABA -- just natural foods.
Four very short aisles of natural foods and natural supplements. (The regular vitamins and medicine are near the pharmacy, across the store.)
The Nutrition Center is one of two departments in the store with up-to-date signage, the other being the pharmacy. Heading back into the main supermarket, we can see decor in the bakery which is wonderful but would certainly not be described as up-to-date...
This decor is disappearing fast from stores. The fact that it hasn't been replaced here makes me pretty sure that the whole store is soon to be replaced.
An overview of the World Class Kitchens departments lining the left side wall of the store. Produce is on the other side of the bread shelving visible to the far right.
No deli here. No, sir. Instead we have an Appetizing department! Frequently shortened, of course, to just Appy. This is in the back corner of the grand aisle.
Produce Depot with varying effectiveness in the neon. Seafood is up next along the back wall with tile backsplash that has also definitely been updated...
Select Meats are next on the back wall.
Saker's layout, by the way, has remained remarkably consistent over the years, at least the last 30 or so years. The fixtures visible here also aren't all that different from the fixtures installed in the latest stores like Hazlet.
Let's head into the grocery aisles...
The aisle markers are of the same generation as the Nutrition Center signage (i.e., about 20 years newer than the rest of the decor).
It seems like -- and memory fails me here, so I could be wrong -- the grand aisle and the first approximately 19 grocery aisles are in the original supermarket and its expansion(s) to the left, with aisle 20 starting the expansion to the right.
This is the back wall of the supermarket, I believe looking from the expansion around aisle 20 into the main store. Aisles 20 and 21 are frozen...
Very little attempt has been made in this section to tie in any decor, except for what seems to be painted columns on the back wall...
Quite strange. Aisle 22 is up next, with one side of frozen and one of dairy. The rest of the dairy department lines the back wall in this section.
Heading back to the front of the store, somewhere in this section is the pharmacy. Again, the signage for this department is newer than the neon signage we saw elsewhere.
There's then a single doorway in the front of the store to the next room housing aisles 23 through 28, which feature decor that's impossible to date because not only does it not appear anywhere else in the store, it doesn't appear in any other store either. It does look like the newest decor in the store, though why they didn't just use the latest decor package is beyond me since this decor clearly isn't secondhand.
What in the supermarket gods' names are we looking at here? Are those the Can-Can dancers going around that circular sign? What even are those pictures of on the front wall? What's with the random pallets of paper goods? And who was in charge of making this sign...
I think it physically hurts to read that "We save you money" sign. And if the random pallets of paper goods aren't enough for you, oh don't worry, there's lots more in the aisles...
Along with baby products...
And other household cleaners and so on lining the back wall.
What a bizarre way to end this otherwise interesting but fairly mundane store. But that said, I'm fairly certain that this store is soon to be replaced so I'm so glad I actually got to document it. HOWEVER... tomorrow's store is even better as its replacement is recently completed and it's a real classic store we absolutely shouldn't miss. Come back tomorrow to check it out!