I first posted news of Weis coming to the former Pathmark store in Hillsborough last March. Rumors have been kicking around online ever since with little confirmation to be found. Well the signs are finally up... Weis is coming soon!
For those who may not be familiar, Weis Markets is a chain based in Sunbury Pa with a huge presence in the easter half of Pennsylvania. The first New Jersey Weis to open, I believe in the early 90's?, was in Newton, New Jersey, right next store to an insanely popular ShopRite. Other chains like A&P and Grand Union failed to survive up against this ShopRite. The Newton Acme was located on the other side of town and was more a victim of it's own lack of maintenance and an exorbitant rent increase by the landlord than the ShopRite. I'm not sure if the Newton Weis is a bona fide success but it has certainly offered a decent alternative to the chaotic, and not always well maintained, ShopRite.
Weis is currently upping it's game in New Jersey by renovating all three of it's current locations to it's "fresh" format, which does include the most attractive decor package in the company's history. Unlike most chains, Weis tends to stick with a decor package for decades at a time. I don't have pictures of their new decor package on the blog yet. You can take a look at their previous, 90's-2000's, look at the Clarks Summit location (below the former Acme pictures). The bold and cold look has been retired for a much warmer and graphic decor package. You can get a glimpse of it here. I think we've all agreed that this "fresh" business is being overused and isn't carrying much weight anymore. Weis, for the most part, is not rebranded they're stores as "fresh" although some do have "fresh market" exterior signage.
Hillsborough, NJWeis isn't setting up shop directly next store to a ShopRite in Hillsborough, but it is just a stone's throw away. The ShopRite here suffers from many complaints that often plague other locations... terrible parking lot, horrible layout and not the cleanest store around. The store could improve dramatically by losing an aisle or two to expand its severely cramped produce and service departments. The Stop and Shop next door is nearly identical to it's Edward's days and seems to be used by shoppers as a giant convenience store. I've never seen a customer in here pushing around a fall cart of groceries. While the exterior signage has been updated to S&S's new look, stepping inside feels a bit like entering a time warp. The store is sorely in need of updating.
One disadvantage Weis will face is it's lack of visibility from the heavily traveled Route 206. The shopping center is set back far from the road and is barely visible from 206. Only one of the entrance to the center has a sign listing the big box stores. The sign is low to the ground and inexplicably NOT lit up at night. I have passed this center many times not knowing there were stores behind the few free-standing ones along 206. Seems odd that the retailers in the back haven't demanded better signage. On to the other New Jersey stores...
Newton, NJWeis' first New Jersey store. You can see the dramatic difference in business done at each store in this image.
Weis NJ location #2. I believe Walmart came to town after Weis had opened. This store seems to have carved out a better following than the Newton location.
Two more Weis Markets have opened in New Jersey. One here in Hackettstown right next to a ShopRite and another in Flanders New Jersey, which was located across the street from an A&P. I'm not familiar with Hackesttown store although it's probably safe to assume that Weis isn't putting too much of a dent in ShopRite's business. The Weis store in Flanders closed 2 years after opening. Interesting that it couldn't survive near an A&P. One article I've seen online mentions that Weis was "forced" to close the Flanders location. Not exactly sure what that means. Weis rarely closes locations regardless of how poorly a store performs. The Flanders location was taken over by ShopRite which wound up running the A&P out of business. Now, in a very strange twist, Weis is apparently interested in returning to Flanders by opening in the former A&P! You can read more about it all in the Mount Olive Chronicle by clicking here.
I will cover the Hillsborough Weis when it opens this year. Looking forward to seeing what a brand-new Weis looks like and what it will have to offer. While I've never been one of Weis' biggest fans, I do admire their determination to take on ShopRite and to remain a small company. Weis seems to be one of the few local supermarket chains left these days to have not been swallowed up by some giant corporation. Hope they can continue to remain a local company for many more decades!