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TOUR: Frenchtown Market - Frenchtown, NJ

Frenchtown Market
Owner: Ken Traub
Opened: 2005
Cooperative: IGA
Location:
 28 6th St, Frenchtown, NJ
Photographed: March 2020
Yet another small NJ town, yet another small supermarket! Frenchtown, with a population of 1600, is served by the 10,000 square foot Frenchtown Market, which was built in 1960 as an A&P, replacing a 1900-built store at 26 Bridge St. Up until fairly recently, the store actually retained its A&P decor, which you can see through the windows here. But in 2017, 12 years after the IGA opened, they did a light renovation, replacing the decor (and that's about it). The decor comes to us courtesy of CIP Retail, who seems to have a partnership with Bozzuto's -- this store's wholesaler. We've seen a lot of DY Design and Off the Wall, but CIP's clients include some high-profile ones such as Price Chopper/Market 32, Rite Aid, Sprouts, Tops Friendly Markets, and RI-based local chain Dave's Fresh Marketplace, which uses a much more deluxe version of this same decor package. I'm drawing a blank on what this store's IGA subgroup affiliate is called, but it's definitely not Retail Marketing Group, of which Bishop's and a few others are members.
Produce is in the front corner, with dairy on the right side of the first aisle. Meats line the back wall with frozen in the last aisle (and there are 8 aisles here but they're very short, making the store almost a perfect square). Deli is in the front left corner.
Here we see that the decor is approximately the same as the Dave's and other CIP decor packages, it's significantly less elaborate for this small store. Still looks very good on the walls, though.
Moving on to meats on the back wall, it doesn't look like any of the fixtures throughout the store have been updated since A&P left. Notice the panels above all the cases, which are frequently found in the 1990s-era A&Ps (and that's when A&P last renovated this store).
I would assume, then, that the grocery shelving is also left over from A&P. Not much to see in the aisles, although for a store that's this old, the flooring is looking really nice, clean, and unscratched.
You certainly get a strong small-town grocery store feeling in here!
Smoked Meats at the far left side of the meat department, with frozen foods up next and continuing down the last aisle...
Here we see that the last aisle is cut short to accommodate the deli in the front. Now here, I do think that the freezers to the left were installed at some point after the 90s Foodmarket remodel, because they lack the paneling on the top (and are a slightly different style). So the question is, of course, how long has the deli been set up like this? I'm not familiar with centennial-style A&Ps having their delis in the front corner; I would assume they'd be found on the back wall. Is that true? This feels like a modification A&P would've made in the 90s to be able to expand the deli department, and this is a logical place for convenience.
Looking good though, with the new decor up.
And we have the tiny front-end with just three registers if I remember correctly! I doubt A&P had more registers here; it's not a high-volume store. That's all for Frenchtown, and tomorrow we move about three miles northwest along the river to our next small town for another store here on The Independent Edition!

Comments

  1. It's great to see a former Centennial in relatively good condition continue to serve as a small community supermarket. Though the new decor is nice, I miss the old decor, simply because it reminded me so much of the final decor package at the former Morristown A&P.

    There were some interesting things I learned about the Frenchtown A&P over on Newspapers.com. One such piece of info is that in many A&P newspaper advertisements from the mid-80s through early-90s, the following sentence appeared in the fine print: "Some items may not be available in A&P Frenchtown." I really don't know why the Frenchtown A&P had this problem; the only thing I can think of is that at a size of only 10,000 square feet, it was (probably) smaller than just about any other Centennial which A&P operated during that time period.

    Very interestingly, an article appearing in the December 15, 1982 edition of The Courier-News stated that A&P was planning to close its Frenchtown supermarket. Per the article, "Although the Frenchtown A&P is the only large grocery store in the borough, [Michael] Rourke [A&P's Head of Corporate Affairs] said the store has not been profitable for some time and, therefore, was being closed." However, that same article reported that the Frenchtown A&P's manager had not been notified that his store was due to close. Rumors of the store reopening as a Super Fresh were also mentioned in the article.

    Of course, the Frenchtown A&P did not close back then. On January 6, 1983, The Courier-News published an article stating that the Frenchtown A&P would remain open and also that a conversion to Super Fresh was not going to occur. A different A&P executive (William Vitulli, a corporate vice president) went so far as to say that the company never considered closing the Frenchtown store!

    In spite of Mr. Rourke's statement, the Frenchtown A&P couldn't have performed too poorly, otherwise it wouldn't have stayed open until 2003. (I was unable to ascertain an exact closing date for the store, but an article in the February 1, 2004 edition of The Courier-News mentioned that the Frenchtown A&P closed the prior year.) In fact, I know of very few Centennials in New Jersey (excluding those that were expanded at some point) which lasted longer than the Frenchtown store: There were, of course, the Centennials in Morristown and Pluckemin, along with the A&P-turned-Food Basics in Glen Rock. The Little Silver A&P also lasted longer, though that was not originally a Centennial. Finally, the Super Fresh in Ewing may have very briefly outlasted the Frenchtown A&P; somebody on Flickr stated that the Ewing Super Fresh closed in mid-2003, though I have been unable to verify that.

    --A&P Fan

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    1. A fascinating read! Thanks for your comment, A&P Fan!

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  2. The owner of this IGA also operated one in Pennsylvania known as Bethayres Market (650 Welsh Rd, Huntingdon Valley, PA was the address) for a while, although I don't believe he was the original owner. It closed in the earlier 2010's and is currently an Ace Hardware.

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    1. Ah yes, I remember hearing about that from the A&P Preservation blogger, who was familiar with the area. Thanks for bringing that up!

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  3. We had four registers when we ran the A&P but rarely used the fourth. Only during holidays or just before epic snowstorms. We called register four ‘deep space nine’ and really only opened it up when we had to scan in labels for waste & operational needs, not sales.

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