Friday, January 19, 2018

Bonus Store:

Location: 120 Orlando Dr, Raritan, NJ

The Stop & Shop in Raritan closed this past November. Not a terribly exciting store but I always enjoyed how the interior layout had a 70's supermarket vibe. Endless aisles of groceries with service departments tucked out of the way around the perimeter of the store. S&S expanded and extensively remodeled the store in the early 2000's shortly before the fresh craze swept through the industry. 

The Raritan Stop & Shop began as a Foodtown in the late 80's and became an Edwards in the 90's when the store was acquired by Ahold. The Edwards banner was retired in the early 2000's with the stores being converted to Stop & Shop. Many converted stores had interior and exterior remodels similar to the one seen here. New Jersey stores have remained largely untouched ever since with the exception of exterior signage updates. Is it just me or does Ahold sort of ignore its New Jersey fleet of stores? Giant stores of PA and Maryland are remodeled and updated far more often. I don't know of any Stop and Shops in New Jersey with the last round or two of the company's updated décor. The last round of remodels was done in the late 2000's with the Yellow/Purple/Fruit Bowl décor and I don't think much remodeling  has been done since then. 

Stop & Shop dismantled the store within days of closing. 

I made one last visit during the store's final week...

Produce was on the right side of the store with the Deli to the right side of Produce. Floral and the Health Food departments were tucked away in the corner behind where I'm standing. The entrance on this side of the store was actually quite a distance away from this area. Neither entrance here funneled shoppers into any of the fresh departments. 

Stop & Shop could have easily killed off two or three aisles of groceries to expand the fresh offerings here. Selection and variety was limited in these departments, especially considering the overall size of the store. 

Service Seafood long gone with self-serice cases in its place. 

Meat and Dairy along the back wall. 

I've always been pleased with Stop & Shop's Health and Beauty Aid departments. Great selection and prices competitive with discount stores. Not something Acme is willing to do. 

Leaky cases throughout this end of the store. It's been a problem for years. 

The Bakery was updated recently with the new gray cases. Another fresh department tucked in a corner far from the entrance. You'd pass the bank and the bathrooms before you see any fresh bread. 

Endless registers which is a pretty standard feature at Stop & Shop. 17 or 18 here. A few years ago they shut down the last 6. Computers were removed and shelving was added around them to keep them blocked off but the counters and lights all remained in place.  

Stop & Shop has managed to survive the past seven years just a five minute drive from the new ShopRite in Sommerville. The store is also about 10 minutes away from the Wegmans with Whole Foods coming soon to Bridgewater. 

The Raritan Mall has been in decline for years now despite assurances from the mall owners that improvements are in the works. Very few store fronts are occupied at this point, many closing in the past few years. Stop & Shop ultimately decided not to renew it's lease here with deteriorating conditions at the mall being a likely influence for that decision. 

A few weeks after closing... 

The ShopRite took over an abandoned Pathmark after expanding and drastically renovating the existing building. Pathmark closed in 2007. I've read the closing was hastened by Sommerville's attempts to get the store condemned. It was in that bad of shape! 

Stop&Shop/Former Mayfair Foodtown/Edwards Hillsborough, NJ
Another Shop & Shop along Route 206 closed last year as well. The Hillsborough store, which was never updated from it's Edwards day, closed laar August. For more pictures of this store store, please click here.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Signature brands get simplified!



Just before the holidays, I spotted some updated ice cream cone boxes at my local Acme. Wasn't in the market for cones but the new packaging caught my eye. I was immediately impressed with the new design and the vastly improved logo. The awful Signature Kitchens logo, which replaced Safeway's logo on the products to make them multi-banner friendly,  is getting phased out. In my opinion, it never should have seen the light of day in the first place. The white "Signature" logo is barely visible on most of the packages. Add to that the awful leaf growing out of the "h" which brings back memories of Alberstons plastering their leaves all over Acme. Now the logo has been redone as an eye-catching black tag with the words "Signature Select Quality Guaranteed". "Signature Select", which was previously used on the higher-end items, appears to be transitioning to the standard name for all private label products. It's impossible to confirm for sure since the new packaging is just now popping up in random categories throughout the store. 

The Signature brands are thankfully losing their generic elements for more uniquely designed elements. The new packaging for the cones makes them look more like a specialty product rather than a mass produced generic brand.

The image above is from Acme's website showing all of their in-house brands. Ever since Safeway's brands came to Acme I thought there were too many of them. I even had a neighbor tell me "I can't figure out their brands". Who can? It's branding overkill. 19 private-labels shown above and they didn't include the logo for the Value Corner brand! Way too much but that all seems to be changing. Not sure who's calling the shots for the house-brands these days... Safeway or Albertsons but whoever it is realized the branding needed some serious simplification.

Just this week I spotted some canned veggies with the new design. The black tag adds a huge visual impact and identity that was completely missing before.

Product photography for the veggies now includes a fresh image and an image of what the veggies in the can look like.

As you can clearly see above, the black tag is much easier to spot than the Signature Kitchens logo.

Before and after cracker packaging above.

Frozen food photography is being redone to outstanding results. The food actually looks really good!

When I first saw these frozen items, I thought they were from a restaurant chain like Fridays but nope... they're Acme's brand.

New and old packaging side by side.

So it looks like Signature Home branding is getting phased out as well. Very few items currently have the new logo on them so it's hard to know for sure. I always enjoyed the flower/house around a circle logo and will be sorry to see it go, if it does.


Ain't happening but it would be nice if it did. Just need a plate change at the printer to slap on the white ACME logo. Adds too much cost both in producing the packaging and distributing it to the correct banners.

And another brand bites the dust! Mom to Mom is on it way out. All baby products are getting rebranded with the Signature Care logo which is used throughout Health and Beauty.

A few baby products are showing an updated Open Nature logo. Hoping the logo gets rolled out to grocery as well. The current Open Nature logo is among the worst in the entire collection.


Finishing up with some old news. Pantry Essentials was rebranded last Spring as Value Corner. Another HUGE improvement! I had been working on a post just for this topic but it never got finished. The news turned out to be a perfect addition to this post.

Huge improvements all around! I spent several years of my career in packaging design so I probably get a little more excited about these sorts of things than most people do. I really think the redesigns are a huge step forward for Acme and all the Alberstons banners.