The phenomenon that is Trader Joe’s jumped out to a strong, early lead in our latest poll and held steady for weeks at the 60 percent mark until voting closed last night. It was really a race for second place from the start:
What kind of grocery store do you want?
Trader Joe’s — 59 percent (80/135)
Whole Foods — 8 percent (11/135)
Wegman’s — 8 percent (11/135)
Fairway — 5 percent (7/135)
Other — 4 percent (6/135)
A&P — 3 percent (5/135)
Aldi — 2 percent (4/135)
Stop & Shop — 2 percent (4/135)
Pathmark — 2 percent (3/135)
ShopRite — 2 percent (3/135)
Supreme — 0 percent (1/135)
Brave/C-Town — 0 percent (0/135)
The poll question grew out of the January reorganization meeting of City Council, where President Samson Steinman, who’s up for re-election this year, announced that the city is in discussions to try to bring a grocery store downtown.
Several stores in our poll can be ruled out based on proximity of existing franchises to Rahway: ShopRite, A&P, and Aldi. Most of the options, such as Wegman’s and Stop&Shop also can’t be considered for the sheer size necessary for their stores; a 20,000-square foot grocery would require at least half an acre, and that’s probably just a starting point. Still others don’t seem to fit Rahway’s demographic profile, in my opinion: Whole Foods, for instance.
Trader Joe’s: The closest stores to Rahway are Westfield, Millburn and Staten Island, all within eight miles.
Whole Foods: I’m not sure that their demographics fit Rahway; the closest store is 12 miles away in Vauxhall, which also might not have the demographics, but it’s a newly-built, enormous store that’s just down the road from Millburn, which likely has the demographics WF seeks.
Wegman’s: A personal favorite, though there’s a massive store just down the road in Woodbridge.
Fairway: Only one store in New Jersey, in Paramus. Not sure what to think of their demographics either, as other stores are located on the Upper East and Upper West sides, Harlem as well as Red Hook, Brooklyn, and Stamford, Conn. Maybe it is a good candidate to pursue for expansion into New Jersey, as one reader mentioned.
Other: As some have suggested — and I think might be a good strategy — Rahway might be wise to pursue a chain that’s looking to expand its presence into New Jersey, such as a Stew Leonard’s or Fairway. Among “Other” options mentioned by readers is Kings, which might not match the demographics for Rahway but they do have stores that are on the smaller side which might actually fit a downtown space.
A&P: The huge store in Clark is only a few years old, and former A&P on Westfield Avenue is still vacant.
Aldi: Another personal favorite, it’s owned by the same company as Trader Joe’s, but there already are four stores within 10 miles: Linden, Roselle, South Plainfield, Union.
Stop & Shop: No shortage here; at least 10 Stop & Shops or Super Stop & Shops within 10 miles of Rahway. The Super stores are just too darn big to fit in Rahway, but a regular Stop & Shop (if they still open those) might actually fit.
Pathmark: They’ve already started closing some stores in and around New Jersey the last few years, so I’m not sure they’d be a good target. Also, there are existing stores in Linden and Avenel.
ShopRite, Bravo/C-Town, Supreme: I’d forgotten, until someone reminded me, that C-Town had taken over the former Dembling’s market on West Grand Avenue a few years ago but never worked out.
Any others that we’ve missed? I’m also open to any suggestions for future polls.