Stop & Shop and ShopRite in New Jersey Standoff

Discussion
Dec 13, 2011
Tom Ryan

A local group is fighting to prevent a ShopRite from coming to town, reportedly over traffic, safety, noise and other aesthetic concerns. The twist is that the group is led by Stop & Shop.

Inserra Supermarkets first proposed the project in Wyckoff, NJ on the site of a long-abandoned A&P and strip mall in 2009, and has since been fighting to gain town approvals.

The 62,000 square foot ShopRite location would open adjacent to a recently expanded Stop & Shop in the redeveloped Boulder Run shopping center. Last week, an anonymous flyer — later found out to have been penned by a public affairs executive hired by Stop & Shop — was sent to residents urging them to contact municipal officials, according to the Wyckoff Patch.

An attorney representing Inserra Supermarkets, the parent of ShopRite, called the anonymous mailer "the public relations spin of a desperate objector."

At a town Planning Board hearing in late August, Stop & Shop brought out a landscape architect and an engineer to detail the concerns. They charged that the buffer areas around the property would not adequately block view of the store and parking lot from neighboring residential areas. Plans to raise the property could also create flooding. A proposed left-hand turn lane would present risks for emergency stops.

Speaking earlier in the year to the Record, an attorney representing Stop & Shop and the Boulder Run shopping center added that the site is not zoned to allow a single "big-box" supermarket, but rather is zoned for what was on the site previously — a smaller "food market," along with other small retailers.

"It doesn’t make any sense to have supermarkets backing up on each other," she said.

A consultant working on behalf of Inserra Supermarkets told the Record that the smaller 35,000- to 48,000-square-foot supermarkets of the 1980s and early 1990s are too small for the suburban supermarket prototype. The bigger boxes can stock the perishable offerings shoppers are looking for. The bigger boxes also attract shoppers up to 4.5 miles away.

Larry Inserra, head of Inserra Supermarkets, told the Record that the town used to have four smaller supermarkets: a Grand Union, an A&P, a Kings and a Foodtown. He added that Wyckoff residents already are traveling to shop at ShopRites in Ramsey and elsewhere.

"We feel this is an underserved area for ShopRite," Mr. Inserra said.

Discussion Questions: To what extent should a retailer be engaged in preventing a competitor from opening up next store or even nearby? Do you see any issue with adjacent supermarkets?

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11 Comments on "Stop & Shop and ShopRite in New Jersey Standoff"


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Ian Percy
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

So an abandoned strip mall is SO much more beautiful in the minds of these architects and engineers than an actual functioning store. Not only that but apparently the vacant mall prevents flooding and left turn accidents. Who knew? Thank God for engineers!

First, competition helps everyone even the competitors though one can argue that perhaps they don’t need to be right next to each other which sounds perfectly reasonable. Now I’ve never heard of Wyckoff, NJ where a sports-themed barber shop just opened up according to the lead story on the “Wyckoff Patch” (so there is competition) but I’m sure it’s a wonderful town. But for goodness sakes dear citizens who love Stop & Shop, if you are going to “occupy” against ShopRite don’t present dumb arguments like the store will cause flooding and left turn accidents. It’s you who loses credibility.

Adrian Weidmann
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

Turf wars. Stop & Shop should concentrate their resources and efforts on bringing outstanding products and services to their customers and not spending time and money keeping their turf. When there is competition, the consumer typically wins. Stop & Shop got caught talking over their customers rather than with them and they will pay the price when shoppers let their voices be heard with their wallets when the ShopRite store opens!

J. Peter Deeb
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

There are adjacent supermarkets all over this country; why should this be any different? If the zoning issues are legitimate, that is one thing but if this is a smoke screen then free enterprise should rule. I wonder if there would have been a question if A&P wanted to raze the center and build a superstore?

Hayes Minor
Guest
Hayes Minor
9 years 4 months ago

Adjacent supermarkets (or at least supermarkets within the same shopping center) is not an unusual concept. If anything, it’s good for the shoppers. Having competition so close by forces the retailers to step up and ensure they create an optimal shopping experience to win share of trips.

Lee Peterson
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

Most small merchants don’t realize this fundamental retail law: competition makes you better. Having a ‘like’ business coming in next to you should make you go out, do your homework, learn what you have to do to compete and then evolve (get better). Which, in many cases, may never have happened without them coming in. And if you can’t compete/evolve, well, see you later. Retail is, after all, Darwinism at its finest.

Also, a competitor will draw even more customers to your area, where they will see you and make a decision as to whether or not you’re a better choice. And if you can’t take advantage of that, or you’re not a better choice, well, see you later.

So, in my book, it’s a ridiculous and lazy proposition to try and prevent a competitor from entering the marketplace, especially a big one.

Herb Sorensen
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

This is current standard practice for retailers to attack other retailers, usually through front groups. Personally, I think this should be banned under antitrust legislation. I am generally more libertarian, and do NOT encourage more government “regulation.” But the proper role of government in commerce is not to participate in what I sometimes refer to as a gladiatorial contest, but rather to referee the fight. And my opinion is that the fight of one retailer against another should be strictly confined to commercial modalities — direct competition.

Since PR is a standard business function, I don’t oppose using PR in the competition, but notice that it is PUBLIC relations, not covert operations intended to deceive as to the source of the combatant/competitor.

Liz Crawford
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

I’m no lawyer, but this is foul play.

Stop & Shop isn’t a “citizen” of Wyckoff in the usual sense. If these aren’t concerns of legitimate residents, then it’s simply an attempt to block competition.

Roy White
Guest
Roy White
9 years 4 months ago

Competition is essential (or should be) to the working of our economic system. However, a ground swell of public opinion relative to blocking a new store in part prompted, or at least supported, by a competitor does seem to be over the edge. Competition, in retail, is offering better assortment, prices, service, location, or a combination of any of these than other stores. Both Stop & Shop and ShopRite operate and merchandise fine stores, and in fact having two superb grocers right next to each other will probably bring more shoppers into the area anyway. Stop & Shop should focus on doing what it does even better; it has no reason for not relying on its traditional competitive strengths (which are quite powerful) and using a public campaign to prevent a competitor’ store from opening.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
9 years 4 months ago

I must say I’m pleased — though quite surprised — to see everyone jumping on the “competition is good for everyone” band wagon this morning (“anything that works” seems to be the usual refrain). That having been said, the difference between legitimate concerns and anti-competitive nonsense is often a hard line to draw…presumably arguments will stand — or fail — on their own merits.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
9 years 4 months ago

In fact, it DOES “make sense to have supermarkets backing up on each other.” Studies have shown that multiple supermarkets near each other attract proportionately more traffic to the shared area than would be attracted to the total from separated sites. The other concerns can be dealt with, such as sight lines, traffic management, and property grade.

Narayan Moorthy Moorthy
Guest
Narayan Moorthy Moorthy
9 years 4 months ago

The fact is that it is a consumer’s world. Markets across geography have opened in a manner, open to competitive forces, to be able to drive consumer benefit. As I write, (from Mumbai, in India) from a suburb called Thane, I have within a radius of 2 miles, 5 malls and a further drive down of 2 miles more malls. This level of competition has forced the retailers to be competitive and relevant. If a Walmart or a Microsoft can be told that monopoly is not a good word, ShopRite becomes necessary at least from a consumer’s perspective.

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