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TOUR: Bishop's Supermarket - Whitehouse Station, NJ

Bishop's Supermarket
Owner: Bill Bishop
Opened: 1989 in current location
Cooperative: IGA (Retail Marketing Group)
 431 US-22, Whitehouse Station, Readington, NJ
Photographed: March 2020
Welcome to Readington Township, home of Wakefern Food Corp's dairy and poultry producer Readington Farms! So while the ShopRite of Branchburg may get its milk, eggs, and poultry from just over three miles away, Wakefern doesn't actually have a supermarket within Readington Township. Branchburg's ShopRite, by the way, is only four and a half miles east on route 22, but Branchburg is Somerset County and that's why I included it with the Somerville area stores rather than these. You've gotta make those distinctions somewhere! Now let's take a look at Bishop's, which is just half a mile west of the Whitehouse Station Kings. Even in these sparsely populated parts of the state, the supermarkets are still clustered together. It's a different story, of course, in the Pine Barrens and other extremely sparse parts of southern NJ. Bishop's has been in business since the 1930s, but in 1989 moved to the existing location in what seems to be a new-build store. Check out their history here and an article from a local newspaper here. The store was affiliated with the Thriftway/Shop N Bag group until they went under in 2016, and at that point Bishop's Thriftway became Bishop's Supermarket, affiliated with the Retail Marketing Group division of IGA. They are supplied by Bozutto's in Cheshire, CT.
The store doesn't seem to have been substantially renovated since it first opened, but it's still looking really good today. It's been maintained very well and is clearly a local favorite, as the Hunterdon County Democrat article suggests. We enter to produce in the first aisle on the left side, with meat/seafood and deli/bakery on the back wall. Frozen runs down the middle of the store, with dairy on the right side wall of the store. The Bishops also own a liquor store next door.
As we see, there are a few higher-end touches such as the salad bar in the back here, which may have been installed following Kings' opening nearby. Kings and Bishop's, however, seem to peacefully coexist because they serve very different target markets.
A look across the back wall. We can see that the store has been updated just a little bit with the new hanging IGA promotional signage, but not a whole lot has been done. Still looking great!
The first grocery aisle is labeled aisle 2, and is located in the lower-ceiling area with the produce department. The ceiling gets much higher in aisle 3, but as we see the perimeter is still under a lower ceiling. That type of design was very popular in the 1980s and even into the next 10 years or so.
The store is a solid 23,000 square feet, so not enormous, but certainly large enough. It's only about 2,000 square feet smaller than the Kings.
It's possible this decor has been painted since it was first installed in 1989, since it's looking really good for that age. The cases almost certainly have been painted black.
Frozen foods take up one side of aisle 6 and both sides of aisle 7, running right down the middle of the store.
As we can see, these cases were not painted like the meat and produce cases presumably were.
Lots of small-store charm in the design, especially as we move back here towards the deli, bakery, and seafood counters. If I remember correctly, there actually isn't a service bakery counter but they definitely do bake in-store and the baked goods were excellent. Like, worth the trip on their own excellent.
Small but complete service deli and seafood. Notice that these cases (and presumably this flooring) is much newer than the rest of the store. It looks like this signage, which matches what we saw at the salad bar, would be the same age as those fixtures; I wonder if those upgrades were done to respond to some renovation that Kings had done.
Nonfoods in aisle 11. Like the other RMG stores, several of which we'll be touring, this store sells the IGA and Hy-Top storebrands, as well as Seven Farms for natural/organic.
Looks like the upgraded deli-prepared foods department has encroached on the dairy department. Once again, I assume these cases were painted at the same time that the deli area was redone.
As we move into the end of the store, we begin to see the real dairy department beginning on the back wall and continuing down the last aisle of the store.
Now these cases look brand new, and this aisle is looking really good with the combination of the updated cases and the nicely matching decor on the walls and hanging to the right. Just need to update that flooring a little.
Looking in the other direction.
And here we have customer service and the registers on the front end! Notice the promotional signage above explaining the switch from Thriftway to IGA. That's all for Bishop's, but don't forget to tour the Kings here, and tomorrow, we move just a bit south to Flemington for two stores on The Market Report!