NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ—Levin Management Corporation (LMC) “ultimately prevailed in securing Trader Joe’s for the North Village Shopping Center,” confirmed Michael Hritz, Director of Community Development for North Brunswick Township.
All the development partners shared a common interest: bringing a popular grocery store to the area, said Hritz.
Right now, LMC is making initial renovations to the property and anticipates Trader Joe’s to accept usage in coming months. At that time, the grocery chain is expected to make a “formal announcement” regarding the new store, according to the township.
North Brunswick’s Mayor told New Brunswick Today that the “character and quality” of the Route 1 corridor will benefit from the new store.
“The competition for a Trader Joe’s [is] very tough, so I am very happy and pleased with the success of our professional staff and the cooperation with their business colleagues who worked to get this deal done,” said Mayor Francis “Mac” Womack.
Currently there are a dozen Trader Joe’s in the Garden State. The nearest one that’s open right now is also on Route 1, in West Windsor.
The township says its been trying to “entice” Trader Joe’s to launch an outpost in North Brunswick for several years.
The retailer “will be leasing approximately 14,500 square feet as part of the space that was [formerly] occupied by Barnes and Noble on Route 1 South,” according to Hritz, adding the former bookstore will be subdivided into the grocery store and “two or three additional” businesses.
After the space is ready, “Trader Joe’s will then [build-out the store] before opening later this year.”
Shopping centers are “not what they used to be,” wrote Matthew K. Harding, LMC’s President, in an earlier article on its website. LMC specializes in retail real estate services, and is based in North Plainfield.
“We are seeing an interesting and encouraging tale … illustrated by the ongoing transformation of retail,” continued Harding.
That transformation involves “new types of retail space users and … those working to adapt to a new setting influenced by socio-economic shifts and public policy,” he added.
For instance, he cited the proliferation of fitness centers and gym franchises like Crunch Fitness and Retro Fitness, as particularly beneficial additions to shopping plazas.
“At first, co-tenants were concerned about their new [gym and fitness club] neighbors monopolizing parking or watering down the range of products for sale,” at centers, wrote Harding. “Yet they soon began to recognize the advantages of increased daily traffic,” from people making daily trips to workout.
The Bed Bath & Beyond will remain as the North Village Center’s anchor tenant.
In a report about widespread shopping center vacancies following A&P’s bankruptcy, Harding noted that it’s sometimes hard to make certain spaces work as supermarket’s in today’s climate.
“Market demand may not support another grocer, or perhaps the current configuration or size of the space is not suited to attract a large, modern supermarket,” Harding told NJ.com.
But Trader Joe’s operates much smaller stores that are filled with its own “house brand” items.
Because it offers a bit less selection, locations depend on doing a large sales volume, while moving many customers through fairly rapidly. It also strives to offer consumers a seamless in-store experience, to ensure they’ll keep coming back.
For instance, at Trader Joe’s you never need a receipt to make returns, which are usually “no questions asked.”
Additionally, there is a permanent demonstration area in the back of stores where products are prepared and served by staffers, who will also open virtually any product package, upon request, for a personal sample.
Dave is an award-winning business reporter who has authored over 200 articles for New Brunswick Today.