The results of our latest poll are in:
Of the 134 votes cast, the top two choices grabbed more than half of all the votes: grocery store (29 percent) and bakery/bread/bagel (24 percent). No surprise given the constant call for a grocery story downtown as well as the woeful lack of bagel options in Rahway. It’s a shame the latest effort to bring a coffee shop/cafe to downtown didn’t work but perhaps they’ll be back.
A couple of years ago when we had a poll about specifically what grocery store readers would like to see, the vast majority backed a Trader Joe’s. But really, that’s a longshot at best, as are most major brand supermarkets. After all, there are ShopRite stores in neighboring towns only a 10- to 15-minute drive away, a Wegman’s not much farther in Woodbridge, and a Whole Foods planned in nearby Metuchen. But there’s also the issue of having a large enough piece of land around downtown to develop a decent-sized supermarket (which I’m not sure there is). Funny thing is Rahway used to be home to some nine supermarkets although years ago supermarkets were a fraction of the size most are today.
The best part about these polls is the reader discussions that start as a result. Several readers suggested creating a co-op market, pointing to the ground-floor retail of the Carriage City Plaza building for a potential marketplace, like Phoenicia. or Vineland’s Landis Marketplace. Interesting idea though it’s unclear what Carriage City’s owners plan to do with that retail space since most of it routinely vacant — despite 200+ residents above — plus, would people shop at a store/marketplace if they have to pay to use the parking deck? But hey, if a group of citizens wants to get a co-op together, why not go for it? No reason to wait around for the city or a commercial landlord to do something.
The last time we asked this poll question (I can’t believe it’s been almost three years!), results were somewhat similar, with specialty food store coming out on top (23 percent), followed closely by bakery (21 percent), but coffee shop not far behind (16 percent).
The addition of almost 1,000 housing units downtown in the last 12 years or so is part of the city’s plan to be able to generate enough foot traffic to support retail but it hasn’t quite happened just yet. Perhaps the expanded SID, and accompanying increased budget, might provide some more effort to recruit and retain businesses.
I’m taking suggestions if you have any for our next poll.