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Special Report: ShopRite - Old Bridge, NJ

ShopRite of Old Bridge
Opened: March 17, 2024
Owner: Sumas family/Village Super Market
Previous Tenants: none
Cooperative: Wakefern Food
Location: 600 Schulmeister Rd, Old Bridge, NJ
Photographed: June 1, 2024
Village Super Market, one of the larger Wakefern operators, has been churning out solid stores and good renovations for years but the new Old Bridge ShopRite is really on a new level for Village. It's one of the best ShopRites I've ever been to, and up there with the best supermarkets overall I've visited. The store opened in mid-March replacing a much smaller, much older location nearby (essentially across the highway).
The new store is around 75,000 square feet, roughly double the size of the older location. I'll point out the one minor qualm I have with the store here in the foyer: a lot of the promotion for the new store has the tagline "Old Bridge, New ShopRite." I like it -- it's catchy and easy to remember. But should it really be used on permanent signage like this? It's on a few signs around the store, and I feel like that's just asking for it to become dated in just a few years.
But that doesn't so much matter because the store is truly spectacular. We enter to the grand aisle on the right side, with produce in the front right corner. Prepared foods and deli are in an island on the left side, with a cafe in the back right corner, bread and bakery at the back, meat/seafood on the back wall, and dairy/frozen on the far left side. Floral and pharmacy are between the entrance and exit on the front wall.
You can see how inadequate the ACME in town looks compared to this store looking around. Thing is, this store isn't even all that much larger than that (around 18,000 square feet). It's more about how the space is used and how it's designed. We can see there's plenty of space here, but it doesn't feel empty.
Speaking of empty, I was here about 3:00 pm yesterday. Why was this store so deserted then? Eight staffed registers open; three had no customers at all. I have to imagine this store does a really good business. estimates that last month, this store got 160,000 visits; ACME got roughly a third of that. So I must have just been here at an unusually slow time.
Quite a few new features to Village stores here, and interestingly enough, they've actually blended the three brands they operate together here. Gourmet Garage -- a small chain of NYC gourmet markets Village owns -- is used as the branding for the extensive prepared foods department, and cheese, coffee, and bagels fall under Fairway. (They've done that before in Pelham, NY, where they converted a Fairway to a ShopRite but left some of the Fairway department-specific branding.)
In some of Village's other stores, I've felt that the ideas were spot-on but execution was weak. Too often, they're held back by things like mediocre perishables and too much clutter in the stores. So far, the execution at this store is just as spectacular as the store's appearance. All the food looks amazing, and the aisles are clean, immaculately stocked, and clutter-free.
Multiple prepared foods bars take up the center of the prepared foods/deli area. Checkouts for the cafe, which I believe is on the second floor, are under the Good Food Takes Talent sign.
I just can't help but think how far ahead of other stores like ACME and Stop & Shop this store is. I think both of those chains are running into the wall of ShopRite figuring out some of their historical weak points and just pummeling those two chains.
In an unconventional setup for Village, packaged breads are up here near the bakery, not in the grocery aisles.
The decor, another Off the Wall effort, is simply gorgeous.
The Fairway cheese department has this service counter (with multiple cheesemongers around) along with a few islands in the middle of the aisle.
These service counters are a bit small, but they're so well set up that it doesn't even matter. I love everything about these departments.
HABA is in the first few aisles with the pharmacy at the front. Another minor quibble here: why is there Wholesome Pantry promotion here in HABA, where Wholesome Pantry (the organic storebrand) isn't sold?
Floral and pharmacy at the front. I literally could not think of a way to improve the decor here.
Notice that there's plenty of sale and promotional displays in this store, but they're organized. Let's hope they stay that way.
A pretty hefty international aisle is roughly in the middle of the store. The majority of international foods represented here are kosher, Latin, and Asian, but there's some other cuisines, too -- including British.
Looking across the front-end...
The rest of the grocery aisles are just beautiful. Every shelf was perfectly stocked, and no junk anywhere in sight. I love it.
A fun play on the old ShopRite slogan "hey mom, what's for dinner? ShopRite has the answer!" The slogan was discontinued years ago and modified to the slightly less sexist "just ask what's for dinner, ShopRite has the answer!" but, well, many New Jerseyans can still sing "Hey mom, what's for dinner? / What's quick and tasty too? / How can we make it easy? / ShopRite has the answer! / (now the mom sings this part) I love my family, I want the best / I do all that I can do and let ShopRite do the rest..." Or at least I can still sing that.
The Milk Store, with some of my favorite signage, is in the back left corner.
A ridiculously wide and open frozen foods aisle is second-to-last; more frozen foods and the rest of dairy are in the last aisle.
Big fan of how this aisle looks. The blue wall color, fixtures, lighting, and flooring are all top-notch.
And a look across the front end...
Maybe everyone was down the shore because of the beautiful weather! Where else could they all be? It's so unusual to see a ShopRite this empty when it's not 10 at night...
And now for a quick look at the former ShopRite...
The space is set to be subdivided, but it's not clear yet who the two tenants will be. If one is going to be a grocery store, my money is on Grocery Outlet.
The old location is about half a mile south of the new one, and across route 9.
What's interesting is that Village started exploring replacing this store almost immediately after purchasing it.
These signs below, of course, dated to the pre-Village days when Charles Shakoor owned this store. There aren't that many single-store ShopRite owners these days. Off the top of my head, I think of Lincoln Park, Passaic, and Carteret, and then several owners with just a handful of stores. Two single-store owners recently sold their stores to larger owners -- Kearny to the owners of Nutley and Belleville, and Oakland to SRS.
And a look inside, where all the fixtures have been removed...
I have to imagine they weren't really reusable, since they were so dated. I doubt they would've been worth much resale-wise.
One last interesting thing: the ShopRite from Home pickup parking spaces had to be covered up in the parking lot! I'm sure a more permanent solution will come once these two new tenants move in...


  1. The "Old Bridge, New ShopRite" sign makes me think of back when the Hernando Kroger expanded into a Marketplace store; the old location had previously had a bunch of tiles painted by local elementary students, and in the new building copies of those tiles were put up underneath the phrase "Growing with Hernando" ( Similar sentiment there, but I'd argue it works better to the extent the word "new" isn't explicitly used... I'd definitely have to agree with you that the ShopRite example has the potential to become dated quickly, which is unfortunate. But I love the décor!

    1. Ah, yeah that makes sense but that's definitely less explicit than this one. I think the good news is that Village does tend to stay on top of updating their stores so my guess is it won't be more than a couple years before those signs are replaced with something else.


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