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Special Report: ShopRite - Hadley Commons, South Plainfield, NJ

ShopRite of Hadley Commons
Opened: May 8, 2024
Owner: Saker ShopRites
Previous Tenants: Grant City > Kmart > Sears Essentials > subdivided
Cooperative: Wakefern Food
Location: 6781 Hadley Rd, South Plainfield, NJ
Photographed: May 8, 2024
It's time for another grand opening! I mentioned the other day that there's been a lot going on, including a lot of grand openings and renovations. Saker ShopRites is one of the largest Wakefern members, with around 40 stores. (They recently acquired seven stores from Perlmart, another Wakefern member, in 2021.) Saker notoriously maintains their store fleet exceptionally well, with the vast majority of the stores. Notable exceptions include Edison, Pennington (an extreme), Bordentown, and the Perlmart stores. Until recently, the Piscataway location numbered among those, but yesterday, the brand-new ShopRite of Hadley Commons opened at the former Middlesex Mall. It's a 93,000 square foot behemoth of a store, replacing a large space originally occupied by Grant City and later Kmart, then subdivided.
The move is about half a mile, up the street from the former Piscataway location. It's a very close by move, but it's technically across town lines -- the new one is just barely in South Plainfield. About 7/10 of a mile north is a Stop & Shop in a former Edwards which, amazingly, retains most of its Edwards decor and is in really sad shape. (I wouldn't be surprised if that store closes in the near future, since it hasn't been renovated in the many, many years it's been open.)
There's another ShopRite in South Plainfield, about three miles north at Golden Acres Mall, and that store is only a few years older than this one, having opened in 2016. Although the Hadley Commons store is about 15,000 square feet larger than the Golden Acres store, they're nearly identical.
We enter to a bountiful floral display and the customer service counter in a setup typical for Saker stores. Sushi and the Chinese food bar are in the front left corner along with the cafe, with deli and prepared foods lining the left side wall. Bakery and cheese are at the back, with produce in the first aisle. Seafood and meat are on the back wall, with dairy/frozen on the right side. Pharmacy is in an island at the front of the first aisle.
I'm sure we're all familiar with the Saker setup by now, since they haven't significantly changed their format or decor for quite some time, nearly 20 years.
I suppose it's not in need of updating, but I commented on the post for Middletown that the replacement store uses the same decor as the older store. Same here, although obviously the decor at Piscataway was minimal.
One thing that I consistently noted here was the quality of the products. Obviously, they wanted to make a good first impression for opening day, but I think Saker can keep it up.
An outside vendor does the sushi and Chinese food, and both looked really good.
Looking down the produce aisle, with deli/prepared foods to the left and the grocery aisles to the right.
There's a cafe under the offices on the left. Rows of prepared hot and cold foods are in front.
Here's a look down the left side wall of the store in the prepared foods area.
I can only imagine how much volume they're anticipating doing here with this massive sub counter! Each service department is enormous and absolutely piled with fresh merchandise. I doubt it'll be scaled back much as it continues running. The older Saker stores look nearly identical.
World Class Kitchens between the cafe and the deli. Interestingly, Saker actually owns its own commissary and distribution centers that make the food centrally and then send it out to the stores -- but a lot of the stuff is made in-store, too.
Check out these options at the olive bar!
A wall of bagels, rolls, and bread is up next, with the bakery service counter in the back-left corner.
Many of the baked goods aren't made in-store, but instead it seems that Saker has curated a selection of the best of a lot of producers -- at least five different bread bakeries (Anthony & Sons, La Brea, Hudson Bread, Teixeira's, NY Brooklyn Bread) are represented, with others making pastries and cannoli, for instance. Still other stuff is baked in-store, and there's a large bakery prep area behind the service counter.
Needless to say, the breads all looked amazing. Notice the service counter with fresh breads and the cases behind that.
Looking back up to the front of the store.
And across the back wall, we transition into cheese, then seafood and meat on the rest of the back wall.
Massive cheese island, as we expect from Saker! There's also a service cheese counter.
I think this visit really brought into focus for me just how far ahead Saker (and certain other ShopRite operators) are, compared to competition. ACME and Stop & Shop are the other two mainstream supermarkets in this region, and neither even comes close to this level of selection or service departments.
Seafood and service butcher on the back wall.
Here's a look at the first few aisles. The floral and customer service departments are in an island opposite this.
As we've seen in other Saker ShopRites, the first few aisles are the Nutrition Center with a massive selection of natural foods.
Over on the back wall, looking up to the grand aisle. You can see the Nutrition Center signage here.
Dairy in the back right corner.
I'm not sure what else I can say -- this store is a very typical Saker store, just a particularly large and new one. But it looks a lot like older ones.
The store was very busy for opening day, and I have to imagine it won't be that busy indefinitely but these Saker stores do ridiculously high volume. Foot traffic data isn't available for the new store yet -- obviously, it opened yesterday -- but says the old Piscataway location got 110,000 visits last month, and the Stop & Shop just to the north got 63,000. I have to assume that that's gonna lean more in ShopRite's favor now that the new store is open.
And a look at the massive, and spacious, front-end...
That's all for now! Don't forget to see today's regularly scheduled post here, and a look at the future SuperFresh in Highland Park here!


  1. You can safely add Freehold and, in my opinion West Long Branch, to the list of outdated Saker stores.

    That sub counter is pretty standard for their stores, and when you can find it staffed, they make a pretty solid sub.

    1. True -- although they are both on the newer side (compared to a store like Pennington, for instance). I know there are renovation plans in place for Freehold, are you aware of anything with West Long Branch? I'm a little surprised they haven't already grabbed the former Kmart across the street.

  2. Is Hadley Commons just a new name for Middlesex Mall?

    1. Yes it is. The whole shopping center had been updated, including façades being repainted, along with some improvements done in the parking lot. They also replaced the signs with much newer ones.

    2. Yes! Sorry, forgot to mention that.

  3. Did you notice if all those signs for departments (like the prepared foods, bakery etc.) are actual signs?

    They definitely seem to have a depth to them, which might just allow lighting from the inside, but it also looks like they could be much like the menus at many places these days, a screen that could be changed.

    Also note that most of them seem to have a white "wire" coming into them at one top corner, which could just be power or could be a way to "program" them if they are actually screens.

    1. Having seen them in most of the other Saker stores, I can say with certainty that they are lit signs and not screens.

    2. Makes sense, since there isn't really a need to have them change most of the time. Just hadn't seen them (being up here in the SRS zone, when they don't decide to just close up all the stores in one area ;).

    3. Mike is right -- they are definitely just backlit signs.

  4. Definitely looks like a HUGE improvement over the older store (especially parking wise). Not to mention, it’s nice to see the whole shopping center in general have been redeveloped (FINALLY!), given the severe lack of an anchor store, stores continously opening and then going out of business, and lack of foot traffic within the past decade. Great to see the shopping center thrive for once!!! As for Stop & Shop, it’s a shame seeing the stores within this area be so outdated, given the one up the road, Watchung, and South Edison (and including the now closed Highland Park location) ALL still having the Super Stop & Shop decor… Unless some improvements are done to those stores, we could be seeing those stores close in the near future (especially since a new ShopRite in Watchung is also gonna open in the near future…). Should Stop & Shop close any of those locations (because of the recent lack in foot traffic) and Ahold Delhaize has NO plans for the company by the near future (whether they will be reforming the stores, or selling the stores to brands like Giant-PA, Kroger, or even ACME Markets), I could definitely see Key Foods take over them with SuperFresh, being the ONLY kind of competition in this area…

    1. They couldn't "sell" them to Giant, as that is the same company :).

    2. I meant to say rebrand for Giant lol, but yeah. Hoepfully when they rebrand the stores, should it happen, they give the stores a refresh.

    3. Agreed, it's a great improvement.

      As for Stop & Shop, yes, I think the central Jersey stores are particularly rough (not so much some of the shore locations in Monmouth/Ocean counties -- they seem to do just fine). But all the locations you mentioned along with Aberdeen, Kendall Park, both in Somerset, Piscataway, East Brunswick, Whiting, Monroe, and others are all in need of updating (even though some are quite nice stores). The fact that the stores in this area haven't gotten any renovation, to me, speaks to their neglect as the rest of the Stop & Shop chain gets renovations (even if they're relatively minor).

      It's always possible some form of sale is coming, although it's kind of a bad climate for consolidation right now with the Kroger-Albertsons merger coming under the microscope. For that reason, I rather doubt any deal would include Kroger or Albertsons taking over all or part of S&S (even though they would be a pretty good fit) simply because of the optics during the merger. Then again, it's possible they're working on some other deal behind the scenes for if/when the merger falls apart.

      I don't think Key Food would take on more than a few of the Stop & Shop locations. They tend to be extremely large and most Key Food stores are far smaller. Key Food, too, doesn't have the infrastructure to absorb a large number of stores at once (although they did acquire about 30 from A&P back in 2015-16). I think Key Food is intentionally expanding its presence in New Jersey and it wouldn't surprise me if they could absorb more S&S stores in the future, but that's probably at least several years out. In the meantime, I see them taking on a few stores here and there -- like Highland Park -- I would say some of the New York stores, and some New Jersey stores like Elizabeth, Jersey City, and Hackensack could be brought under SuperFresh, but I wouldn't anticipate any more than a few. Still, it's very clear Key Food is intent on growth -- and continues to substantively grow -- so who knows.

  5. Zachary, thank you for covering the grand opening of this newest ShopRite.

    FYI, the now-former ShopRite of Piscataway opened on September 9, 1989. Though I never visited that supermarket, it seemed to have a personality that the newer Saker stores lack.

    While Saker may have great service departments, I am not a fan of their stores (based on photos I have seen online). As a general rule, I dislike exposed ceilings, but for whatever reason all the exposed metal beams appear to be especially obnoxious in Saker ShopRites. It really does give me a feeling of sensory overload. I don't care for the metal awnings that run along the exteriors of Saker ShopRites, either.

    Perhaps the exposed ceilings in Saker stores wouldn't bother me as much if the supermarkets had more fun and exciting decor packages. The paintings that run along the walls are rather boring, IMO. And although the signage for the service departments is actually nice, it lacks the pizzazz found in some ShopRites operated by Village or RoNetco.

    Of the legacy Saker ShopRites (i.e., those other than Pennington, Bordentown, and the seven former Perlmart ShopRites), I believe the only "old school" Saker ShopRites left are the supermarkets in West Long Branch, Edison, and Freehold. None of those locations, however, are particularly appealing from an architectural perspective (although West Long Branch had a beautiful quasi-colonial look before its shopping center was expanded and given its current ugly facade). The vintage ShopRite of Belmar, of course, was unfortunately replaced in May 2021. (When researching supermarket history, one of the most surprising things I learned was that the old Belmar location--which opened in February 1964--was never a Penn Fruit and was in fact always intended to be a ShopRite.)

    I do commend Saker for operating Dearborn Market, which is housed in a beautiful building in Holmdel, NJ. It would be great if new Dearborn locations open in the former Belmar and Piscataway ShopRites, although I am guessing that will not happen.

    1. Saker's customers don't need any more pizzazz than the stores already have. Their base is Monmouth and Ocean Counties, which skew...old. If they start changing layouts and decor, all they're going to get is people bitching and complaining. The most appealing thing about their stores is the fact that I can pretty much visit any one of them and know where everything is.

      I moved to Cherry Hill in 2017 from Farmingdale. Howell was the last Saker store I shopped at regularly. Let's just say that compared to the Ravitz stores near me, Saker stores have lots of pizzazz.

    2. Thanks for your thoughts on this, and yes, Mike is right here too -- Saker stores don't need much personality because they are very popular among their typically older customer base. There are several chains like that, such as Market Basket in New England which has used the same store designs for decades but are extremely popular and high-volume.


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