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Special Report: Nature's Food Markets - Hackettstown, NJ

Nature's Food Markets
Opened: May 3, 2024
Owner: Heddy Tabet
Previous Tenants: A&P (mid-1990s-2015) > Shop Fresh Marketplace (Mar 2023-Sep 2023)
Cooperative: INFRA
Location: 7 Naughright Rd, Hackettstown, NJ
Photographed: May 10, 2024
One more special report today! (If you're reading these in the reverse order I posted them, welcome to Saturday's post, there will be more coming your way. Here's the full list.) But anyway, this is the last store I visited yesterday. Like the Food Universe in Passaic, this store held its opening on May 3, but it's not fully open just yet. The 40,000 square foot store is located in part of a former A&P, which opened in March 2023 as Shop Fresh Marketplace and closed in September 2023. (Here's my post from June 2023.) Shop Fresh was affiliated with Great Valu Markets, but they lost their affiliation shortly after their opening. In early 2024, it was announced that the owners of New York-based A Matter of Health (with locations in Manhattan and Rockland County) would be moving in, turning the space into the largest independent natural food store in New Jersey.
It's set up the same as Shop Fresh, and of course you'll clearly see the decor mostly wasn't changed. But the product mix has absolutely changed. Like Cosmo's Fresh Market, replacing a supermarket owned by the same person as Shop Fresh, this store has quite a few new signs that seamlessly integrate into the older decor that was already there.
If I'm not mistaken, the entire produce department is organic, a major change from Shop Fresh which I don't believe had an organic produce section at all. Nature's Food Markets has replaced the small cafe in the front of the grand aisle with a coffee shop and juice bar, and added a hot food bar, salad bar, and soup bar to the deli. The cafe has been relocated to the front wall beyond the registers.
It's obvious that the A Matter of Health operators are far more adept at setting up this store than Shop Fresh's owner Nick Nasser. The selection was impressive, the prices were extremely good for natural and specialty items, and the perishables looked great.
Deli and prepared foods were fully set up. The former Chinese food bar is now just a regular hot food bar, and another fixture has been added for self-serve hot food in front of the deli.
Speaking of the deli, it seems the "olive" of "Mount Olive Deli" has gone missing at some point. I wonder if it'll be replaced. We'll see one other minor decor flub, but otherwise, the store looks great.
Here's the hot food and salad bar.
The produce looked great, and it's the largest selection of organic produce for many, many miles around. The nearest Whole Foods is over 20 miles away in Parsippany -- not a crazy distance, but farther than many people are willing to go.
As we see, the store's basic layout is mostly the same. Nature's Food Markets has removed the hardware and home goods department from the first few aisles and added a large vitamins/natural HABA department in the front part of the last few aisles.
Several departments hadn't yet fully opened when I visited. The bakery, seafood, and meat departments were all still in progress.
The cheese case went from a sad array of boring parmesans to an impressive display of locally-made raw-milk cheeses...
The bakery has commercial packaged products, but they weren't baking in-store yet. It seems that they're preparing to do so, though. Lots of good breads from local bakeries like Bread Alone and Balthazar are in the bread aisle at the far end of the store.
Nature's Food Markets has also added this wagon display of local products, everything from honey to hand soaps...
Looking at the back wall of the store, we see not much else has changed. Meat and seafood service counters not yet open, but there were some packaged items. It didn't look like they were cutting meat in-store yet, but it also looks like that's the plan.
These aisles were previously the hardware department, now your source for healthy living. Or is it?
Actually, this is the one other minor decor problem -- the sign actually says healty, if you read it carefully. Oops! Floral is in front next to the entrance...
They got it right on the front wall, though, and they've closed off the former gift shop area with a row of party items and greeting cards in front of it.
The grocery aisles have a truly impressive range of specialty foods, with an emphasis on gourmet, organic, and local brands. The storebrand is Cadia, which is distributed through INFRA, or the Independent Natural Food Retailers' Association, the cooperative to which this store belongs.
Speaking of impressive, the tea selection knocked my socks off. And I have hard socks to knock off. The iced tea selection was no less impressive. One of my indulgences is the Steaz mint iced tea, which is somewhat hard to find. $2.79 at Kings, $2.29 at Stop & Shop, $1.49 here.
As we see, there are still holes on the shelves where product is set to go in. Based on A Matter of Health's other stores, I have no doubt that these shelves will be fully-stocked in no time, unlike Shop Fresh.
And I mentioned the incredible selection of protein bars. Holy cow! The opposite side of this aisle is bigger packages of still other protein bars. This is a smart strategy -- instead of trying to recreate a mainstream supermarket, like Shop Fresh, Nature's Food Markets is trying to sell absolutely everything a normal supermarket like ShopRite or Weis wouldn't have.
Even though the butcher department doesn't seem to be up and running yet, there's plenty of packaged meat.
Back to the front wall. The store wasn't crowded on a Friday afternoon (one week after the store opened), but there were plenty of shoppers around. We'll see how many it can attract long-term.
The aisles are divided in half, and for the last three aisles, they're blocked off from the middle aisle. These three aisles are open to the front end, and have a massive selection of vitamins and natural HABA.
Vitamins, natural supplements, soaps, essential oils, and the like abound in the Beauty & Wellness department. It looks like this hanging frame was moved from the back of the hardware department to this section.
Again, a few empty spaces that I have no doubt will be filled soon enough. It's a huge selection that I would say is actually much larger than Whole Foods.
Frozen foods haven't moved, they're still in the second-to-last aisle.
And dairy and breads are in the last aisle.
As you can see below and in one of the pictures above, the entrance to the liquor store next door has been closed off from the supermarket. I don't know why that is, although I assume the liquor store is not owned by anyone involved in the supermarket.
The front end looks pretty much the same, except for the small cafe relocated to this area. It looks like they moved the registers back into the store to accommodate it. Notice that the "with Nature's Food Markets" sign is new.
The confusing "Shop Fresh Marketplace thank you for shopping with" sign has been replaced with a much more readable "thank you for shopping with Nature's Food Markets" sign.
Well, I can unequivocally say that Nature's Food Markets is one of the best natural food stores I've ever been to, and it may have just become my favorite in New Jersey. The selection and prices were really impressive, and I love the fact that it's an independent store (since I'd rather support a small business than Amazon-owned Whole Foods, if I can help it). I would love to see more locations in the future, although I don't know how likely that is. In the meantime, another member of INFRA is opening a small natural market in Millburn, NJ in a former bridal store at 565 Millburn Ave. And a lot of other openings and renovations are going on, which you can see here!


  1. Maybe Mt Olive Pickles objected to the deli name and they had to change it?

    1. I suppose it's possible, but given that the store is right on the border of Mount Olive Township, I think they could have gotten away with it. On the other hand, a store in Albertson, NY originally called Albertson Marketplace had to change their name after Albertsons objected.


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