- Stew Leonard’s will open its first New Jersey store location this fall inside the Paramus Park Mall, reports nj.com. Construction is set to begin today on the 80,000 square foot space.
- The new store will feature the company’s famous animatronic characters, one-way weaving aisle, a from-scratch bakery, cut-to-order butcher shop and fresh seafood department. A 50-member kitchen will prepare hot foods throughout the day, and the store will also offer refrigerated, ready-to-eat meals.
- Stew Leonard’s plans to source produce and dairy items from farmers in New Jersey and the Tri-state area. According to the company website, about 80% of its products are prepared on-site or brought in daily.
Stew Leonard’s expansion into New Jersey will tap a new market of customers. The quirky retailer already operates six dairy-themed supermarkets in Connecticut and New York. Dubbed the "Disneyland of New Dairy Stores" by The New York Times in 1983, the chain has a long history of solid customer service, engaging customer experience and high-quality goods. Shoppers might feel as if they’re at a boardwalk carnival in lieu of a supermarket as they navigate the singular, meandering aisle.
The old-time feel of Stew Leonard’s could be refreshing to shoppers in an increasingly digitized world where self-checkout kiosks are taking over and human interaction is becoming less common. The grocer plans to stick to what it’s good at instead of trying to keep pace with trends such as mobile apps and smart shelves. At the beginning of the one-way aisle, shoppers can pick up a freshly roasted coffee from a smiling employee. In the bakery section, homemade chocolate drizzled rice cakes and freshly baked bagels fill the air with enticing aromas. The prepared foods section offers a plethora of interesting items such as "kalemole" and rosemary potato chips.
The new Stew Leonard's will fill a space that Sears previously occupied, and it appears that the community is eager to make room for the grocer as it creates 350 jobs. The Paramus zoning board of adjustment unanimously approved Stew Leonard's proposal for a new store in June last year.
Stew Leonard’s has taken a restrained approach to expansion, first launching in 1969 and delving into the New York market in 1999 with a Yonkers location. Before this new store in New Jersey, its last store opened nearly two years ago in East Meadows, New York. There’s something to be said for the approach, where shoppers are eager to visit a Stew Leonard’s location to see what all the buzz is about and the retailer creates a fever storm when it announces a new store location.
Moving into a mall used to be unusual for a grocer, but there's been an uptick of grocery retailers doing so recently. This includes Lidl in New York City's Staten Island Mall, Aldi in the Chicago Ridge Mall and Wegmans in the Natick Mall outside of Boston. Stew Leonard's new location offers snack and lunch items in addition to groceries, which should resonate with hungry shoppers visiting adjacent stores.