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May  30

But We Wanted The Big Store

Is bigger always better? Not if it's a big box retailer like a K-Mart, but a mega Whole Foods? Bring it on. Unfortunately we're not getting it. Seems Cary Africk has been doing some investigative reporting (he has his own "Deep Throat") and posted on the Watercooler comfirmation that West Orange will score a giant Whole Foods (someting akin to the monster that ate Columbus Circle) and of course, the requisite huge parking lot. Of course, readers of Barista knew that already. Africk does stir the pot -- asking why we let that big fish get away...

The ex-Pathmark building, on Prospect next to the K Mart, will shortly be turned into one of Whole Foods "large" stores. This is great news for fans of the store (of which I am one). These stores, such as the one in New York City, are astonishing! But I did have one question: Why West Orange and not Montclair? What with Montclair's eagerness to bring "ratables" into the town, did our officials meet with Whole Foods and try to convince them to build in Montclair, rather than West Orange? A store the size of the new Whole Foods will bring in considerable tax money, not to mention jobs and shoppers who would have brought additional revenue to Montclair's other restaurants and stores. What did we do to go after this "business?"  Presentations?  Meetings? Tax breaks? Why did we lose? And although my "source" said the Montclair store will remain open, Why would it? In fact, the store in Montclair just transferred their liquor license out of the store. A prelude to closing?

OK, officials, or others in the know, -- tell us, did we even stand a chance of getting a bigger Whole Foods? And what about the scuttlebutt over a potential Trader Joes?

May 30, 2005 in Only in Montclair | Permalink


We sure do need more ratables in this town. Is there an active campaign from the town to go after them?

What say you, Ed?

Posted by: latebloomer | May 30, 2005 4:24:04 PM

The West Orange location offers more interior square footage and external parking than any currently-available commercial property in Montclair. As to why two Whole Food stores so close in proximity, Kings has had a large store (300 Pompton Ave, Verona) and a small store (650 Valley Rd, Upper Montclair) of about the same proximity for many years, with no apparent business problems. The two Starbucks (Upper Montclair and downtown Montclair) also coexist well.

Looking very forward to a Columbus Circle-like Whole Foods in West Orange ... what is the expected grand opening date>

Posted by: Jim | May 30, 2005 7:50:33 PM

"Scuttlebutt" over Trader Joes? What's the story there?

Posted by: obie | May 30, 2005 8:25:37 PM

Miss Martta<---------loves Trader Joes!

Posted by: Miss Martta | May 30, 2005 8:50:22 PM

There was quite a bit of discussion about this on eGullet.org's NJ board recently. Hopefully this link will work:

Posted by: Just visiting | May 30, 2005 8:59:32 PM

At last! We can shop AND park at Whole Foods- now if they only turned the KMart into a Trader Joes - we'd have food shopping nirvana!!

Posted by: Pam | May 30, 2005 9:17:15 PM

With regard to the two Kings stores, one in Upper Montclair the other in Verona, I assume you are aware that Kings is owned by Marks & Spencer (M&S). M&S has been trying to sell Kings for years without success.

In 2003 D'Agostino was going to buy Kings but the deal fell through. According to M&S no one wants to pay what M&S considers a "fair" price.

As to whether having two stores so close is a good business decision, while I can't comment on that specifically, from the Marks & Spencer annual report I see that Kings operating profit in 2004 was 2.4 million pounds. In 2003 it was 7.9 million. Thus, you might not want to automatically use Kings as an example of how to run a business.


Posted by: carya | May 30, 2005 9:42:52 PM


I love Kings. I've been shopping there ever since I moved to Montclair over 20 years ago. Service and selection is outstanding. I am in and out of the store in practically no time. My kids love their baked goods, I can buy good produce, and it's a pleasant store to shop in.

I was trying, though, to have a discussion about ratables, not to second guess retail grocery strategies.


Posted by: carya | May 30, 2005 9:46:14 PM

from what i heard - from a very reliable source - is that once the west orange whole foods is open, the one in montclair is going to close and trader joes is looking at downtown bloomfield (after redevelopment) but you didnt hear that from me!

Posted by: donttell | May 30, 2005 10:34:55 PM

west orangers got dough,
and less ghet-to...

and there they can pro-
o-vide fo

the manor and highlawn
montclair whole foods be bye gone!

Posted by: none | May 30, 2005 11:21:32 PM

The mayor is doing a wonderful job getting ratables. Everywhere you look lots are being split to make way for more homes or large homes are having condos added to them. The marlboro inn will be a slew of beautiful new luxury homes. The whole foods parcel would be a perfect place for more luxury homes or a gated community. Let whole foods leave.

Believe me, no one is sitting on their hands. Remember that the mayor made a shrewd deal to keep the volvo/jaguar/lincoln dealership from moving out of town. That would have been quite a loss for those of us who have higher standards for their automobiles.

Montclair can not be more lucky to have a mayor with an economic development background.

A view from church street

Posted by: Sebastian | May 31, 2005 12:24:47 AM

Nice goof post.

Posted by: Chris | May 31, 2005 2:25:41 AM

I really would like to know where the Trader Joes rumor is coming from. I was at the store in Wayne the other day and they said they never heard of this rumor and as far as they knew there was no planning for a store in Bloomfield. Were they just playing dumb or does someone have some good info?

Posted by: S | May 31, 2005 8:06:01 AM

On the nj.com / Bloomfield forum the idea of Walmart moving into a large, available retail area was discussed (as part of the redevelopment). One of the suggestions for the area was instead of a Walmart can we get Trader Joe's to open up. If there are rumors then they started from locals discussing what store we'd like to see open, not from any company.

Posted by: hrhppg | May 31, 2005 9:14:48 AM

I've been to the big Whole Foods stores and I find them over the top. It's a little too much like shopping at Bloomingdale's--lots of expensive footwear. Long lines at the prepared food counter. I like Montclair's Whole Foods because it is smaller than the typical supermarket. I go for the produce, bulk oatmeal, Niman's pork, natural hair dye. I don't need 40,000 square feet to buy those things. The butcher, the baker and the cheese lady at our Whole Foods all swear that its going to stay open--but won't have a full service meat department.

Posted by: Cheaplazymom | May 31, 2005 11:06:58 AM

I had to do some research on this Trader Joe's rumor and from what I heard is that there a certain Montclair artist who moved to Bloomfield (fleeing the taxes) this artist sold work to Charles Pilliter who works for Trader Joe's. He had presented Pilliter with a New York magazine article about Bloomfield NJ and convinced him that the redevelopment project would support a new Trader Joe's store. From what I understand TJ developers have been in downtown Bloomfield in the past few weeks. So there is some truth to each rumor?

Posted by: blasta | May 31, 2005 11:13:43 AM

Sebastian, you had me guessing for a while but now I KNOW you're not being serious. Bravo!!

Posted by: latebloomer | May 31, 2005 1:09:45 PM

The large Whole Foods stores are nice. I've only been to one though, the one in the Time Warner building and maybe that is in someway unique/different from the others, I don't know, but I came away impressed with the variety of food and grocery choices offered.
I wonder if it will have a wine selection, since apparently they are only allowed to have 2 in the state of NJ and one will be in their new Middletown store (Montclair wine portion closing - don't know where their 2nd one is currently).

The Montclair one is woefully small by comparison. Can't even get a loaf of multi-grain bread there.

Posted by: Karen | May 31, 2005 7:03:41 PM

I believe the Columbus Circle Whole Foods store represents the new corporate look of the food chain, which is now appearing on ground floors of chic & trendy apt/condo buildings going up in many cosmopolitan centers. The large interior space required is an effort to compete with the Wegmans and Harris Teeters of the world.

BTW: for anyone that ventures out into Somerset County for summer drives, you should check out the Wegmans on Route 202 South in Bridgewater. Lots of parking space, lots of interior space, second floor restaurant dining area, yada yada yada.

Posted by: Jim | May 31, 2005 8:38:32 PM

Why is it that when I come out in support of our elected officials you and others cannot believe it or take shots at me?
I now realize by how people have treated me why the town council needs to spend $35,000 to publish their own newsletter. The montclair public is a tough crowd. I know from private e-mails of support that i am not the only one in montclair who believes what i believe. We like the council's one voice. We like the strategic plan. We like the direction the town is going. I know from other private e-mails that i might not have been sensitive enough with my comments. For that i am sorry. I will be more careful in the future.
I voted for bush and i am not part of the religious right.
I support our elected officials and for that i should not be branded a crackpot.

A view from church street

Posted by: Sebastian | Jun 1, 2005 9:03:57 PM

Frankly, "Sebastian", I cannot take you seriously. Because if you are as racist, classist, and elitist as you profess to be, you are scary. And you don't make your beloved mayor look very good-- with friends like you, etc.

I prefer to think of you as a gadfly or as deeply sarcastic. I guess I'm just in denial.

Posted by: latebloomer | Jun 1, 2005 10:31:27 PM

Sebastian, no crackpot claim by me. I just think you put on a good show here ...

"luxury homes"
"more luxury homes"
"a gated community"
"higher standards for ... automobiles [volvo/jaguar/lincoln]"

Posted by: Chris | Jun 2, 2005 9:01:52 AM

They should have closed the Pathmark at Lackawanna Plaza and moved the Montclair Whole Foods there. Plenty of parking bigger store, and might have started to bring round the rest of that sad retail space. Oh well, at least we're getting Popeyes.

Posted by: RidgeRanger | Jun 24, 2005 3:42:37 PM

"The butcher, the baker and the cheese lady at our Whole Foods all swear that its going to stay open--but won't have a full service meat department."

I've heard similar from WF employees. But they point out that this is what WF management is telling them. Their personal view is that if the Montclair store can maintain its profit margins, the company will keep it open; if they lose too much business to West Orange, it's gone.

Nothing is writ in stone.

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