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TOUR: Valley Farm Market - Bethlehem, PA

Valley Farm Market
Owner: Joe Fasula
Opened: 2021 under current ownership; 2003 previously
Cooperative: Wakefern Food Corp.
 1880 Stefko Blvd, Bethlehem, PA
Photographed: September 10, 2016 & January 13, 2022
We are to visit what's left of Valley Farm Market, once a local chain that had a location where SuperFood Fresh is now. This is a fairly sizable store, at around 66,000 square feet, and part of it was originally a Food Fair (note the signature tower), later a Food Lane and then Valley Farm Market. In 2021, Valley Farm was sold to Wyoming Valley chain Gerrity's, and I was here shortly after the sale. A few months after Gerrity's purchased this store, the 10-store chain joined Wakefern as The Fresh Grocer. I'm not 100% clear on whether this store is still branded Valley Farm Market (initially they said they wouldn't change the name, then later announced it would become a Fresh Grocer). But as of my January 2022 visit, it was still very much the Valley Farm Market, although with a few small changes. By the way, I have a few not-that-great pictures from a visit back in 2016 at the end of the post.
You enter ont he right side of the store to what loosely makes up the grand aisle, with bakery and deli on the right side wall, then meat and seafood on the back wall. Produce is in front of meat and seafood, with grocery, dairy, and frozen in perpendicular aisles on the left side of the store. I believe, by the way, that this is now the largest Gerrity's.
From what little I remember from my 2016 visit, it seemed that Gerrity's had streamlined the store, both removing a lot of junk and random useless merchandise around, while also removing a lot of the character and fresh-made or local products around the store. From what I hear, that has continued with the switch to The Fresh Grocer (both Valley Farm and Gerrity's were previously C&S affiliated, selling Best Yet products).
As we see, there's a huge emphasis on perishables, which take up 1/2-2/3 of the store. That's a different formula from nearly every other Wakefern affiliate, with the possible exception of Dearborn Market.
Beyond bakery is prepared foods and deli on the right side wall of the store. As we can see, there's a lot of space in this store and lots of space for sale displays and other general merchandise, which Gerrity's has de-cluttered a lot.
Produce also seemed to be laid out a bit more logically than it was prior to the Gerrity's sale, although I really can't stand this store's produce department. For one, these cases are hideous and you can't see any produce that's not right in front of you. For another, Gerrity's seemed to have drastically cut back the selection here with a lot of the specialty items Valley Farm carried removed.
Worth noting that Gerrity's is soon to remodel this store, and in fact a remodel may currently be going on. It'll be interesting to see what they do with it.
I will say that I don't think any department except perhaps grocery is merchandised particularly well. I feel like when I look around in this store, even in the pictures, I see mostly fixtures, not food.
See how much we're seeing the tables and cases rather than the produce itself, even when we overlook the entire department from one side like this?
The butcher counter takes up maybe half of the back wall -- it's really massive.
And rounding out the produce department is this rather strange merchandising choice of greens just piled in this rather unattractive refrigerator case. Why would the store have been set up like this in the first place? I hope Gerrity's improves this overall.
As we continue along the back of the store, we move on to the poultry counter and then into the grocery aisles.
Before we get to the grocery aisles, we have a few rows of frozen food cases. In the picture below, we're looking towards the front of the store, with the produce to the left and grocery aisles running side-to-side to the right.
If nothing else, the store is very clean, well-stocked, and well-lit. There's just some decisions that confuse me.
And an overview of the deli-meat area in the back of the large grand aisle...
And dairy is at the back of the store, bringing us into the grocery aisles.
Something of a dead corner in the far back left, and I wonder if there was previously another department here, although I'm not sure what it could be.
Soda on the very yellow far-left wall of the store.
Notice the aisles running perpendicular to the rest of the store.
But because the store is very large, they are plenty long aisles. The layout overall isn't particularly confusing, it's just the department-specific merchandising.
Note the Best Yet products on the shelves here, which of course were replaced with Bowl & Basket (and Paperbird) when the store switched affiliations to Wakefern.
Beer and wine in the front corner of the store.
And for an overview of the grocery department on the left side of the store, with the rest of the store to the right.
As we move back into the main grand aisle area, we can see the registers opposite the produce department.
Now for a quick look at my 2016 photos...
As we see, Gerrity's didn't change decor, but they did clean up some fixtures and replace lighting, as we can see was necessary below.
There's no good way to get a sight line across the grand aisle, though.
I don't honestly remember whether the bulk candy and nuts section, seen here, was still there following the Gerrity's acquisition, but it was some of the specialty items like this that I noticed missing.
Here we're looking at meat/poultry over towards grocery on the left side of the store.
Gerrity's definitely changed the pricing signage, which as we can see here was hung on small signs above the cases. If you notice in my newer photos, there's paper signage on the cases now.
You can see that generally there was more clutter around the store prior to Gerrity's purchasing it.
But the yellow soda wall hasn't changed.
I'll be back at some point once I can confirm they've done a renovation, but in the meantime, we'll have to wait and see how the store changes!
Tomorrow we're headed to another produce-heavy independent supermarket about a mile and a half north, so come back to check it out!