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With A&P Scheduled to Close Next Week, Company Mum on Fate of Workers

Real estate management company in charge of shopping center says there are plans in the works to install a new tenant soon – possibly another grocery store.

Walk inside Barnegat's A&P, and you don't need to be told the grocery store's end is near.

Marked-down Halloween merchandise pulled from storage has taken the place of most of the fruits and vegetables on the produce risers. Employees sort items into discount bins. Sale signs – 30, 40, 50 percent off – hang from half-empty shelves in every aisle.

A poster hanging in the Bayshore Plaza storefront, which is plastered with banners promoting deep discounts, says the store will shut its doors April 15.

And while customers are busily stocking up on everything from canned goods to paper towels at cut-rate prices, the scene is a sad one for some.

"This will probably be our last trip in," said Barnegat resident Pat Bloomer as she loaded groceries and her grandson into her car. The A&P is her neighborhood store, she said. "I go to other stores, too, but this is convenient."

Her grandson has milk allergies, and the A&P has always had lots of alternatives. "I'm going to miss that," she said. "It's just sad. I feel bad for the employees." 

Several phone calls and emails to representatives from the Local United Food and Commercial Workers 464A were not returned. Union President John T. Niccollai that employees affected by the closure could be transferred to other stores based on seniority.

The closing affects 42 members of the UFCW 464A Union – 11 full-time and 31 part-time workers.

The union also said that they were working with the company to negotiate employee benefits, but no update has been reported.

A&P spokesman Eric Andrus declined to comment on the store and its employees. On February 15 the company issued a statement saying the decision to close 32 stores was difficult, but necessary. 

"These actions are absolutely necessary as we work to strengthen A&P's operating foundation and improve our performance. We will help our affected colleagues pursue other positions across the Company should open positions be available."

David Silver, spokesman for Levin Management Corporation, which handles the lease agreements for the A&P and the other stores in Bayshore Plaza, said his company is already in talks with other retailers interested in taking over the more than 30,000-square-foot space.

"We've been in some serious conferences with some prospectives," he said.

Whether the new anchor tenant will be another food store is still up in the air, Silver said. The company has spoken with some grocery chains, he said, as well as other types of stores.

"While we would perhaps like most to put in another grocer, that’s not always possible," he said. "The world of supermarkets is shrinking. The number of players in the category is definitely getting smaller. It does make it a little tougher."

But Bayshore Plaza remains a strong location for a grocery store, Silver said.

"It's a very good center – very well located," he said. "It's been generally at full occupancy or nearly full for a long time, and we expect we'll find someone soon."

Others disagree. The store's fate is not surprising, according to Matt Casey of Matthew P. Casey & Associates, which studies the local market, offering advice to retailers in the pharmacy and supermarket industries.

"It's an old, tired, and beat-up store in a fairly dismal shopping center. They couldn't have been bringing in much revenue," he said in a phone interview.

Casey believes the store's fairly small client base will be divided up amongst other grocers in the area.

"It won't be too big of a deal. Their few dollars will just go elsewhere, but it won't be enough to really affect the local market," he said.

Joanne April 09, 2011 at 01:48 PM
Not surprised to see the store close. Store was dirty, over-priced and some of the employees and maagement did not pay attention to the conditions. Shop-Rite overall is a better store. Clean, up to date and very helpful employees. Have to mention also alot cheaper. I'd welcome a other Shop-Rite here in its place.... As for A&Ps' problems, they have nothing to do with this store or the others that they're closing.Their problems stem from ABSOLUTELY poor decisions when it comes to upper management and the employees. They constantly cut hours, hire more and more inept part-timers when they should have fought to keep their full timers who were interested in their jobs . It's a known fact that most part timers could care less about their jobs and most perform poorly because they know they'll be moving on elsewhere. It was said a long time ago that they should have been looking at these issues but everyone shut their eyes and ears...so now this is it..." YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW".. As for that BOGUS sign at this A&P, I'M SURE EVERYONE KNOWS THAT EVEN THESE "SO-CALLED" SALE ITEMS HAVE BEEN JACKED UP TO GET THE MOST OUT OF THIS CLOSING.... Good Luck to all the GOOD employees that are losing their jobs, its really tough out there...I know because my husband just found a job after being out of work for almost 2 years...
Peggy April 09, 2011 at 07:06 PM
From someone that has lived here for 27 years and have gone in the store for just as many years I have to say it is say it is sad to see it close. I am not sure what employees Joanne is speaking of but for me and I am sure alot of us this particular store and its employees were like family. They have always been nothing but kind and helpful. The only part-timers that came and went were the kids that were starting out working after school or home on college breaks. Kids that were trying to figure out what they wanted to do. I would hope that before anyone else makes comments they would at least speak from facts. Nothing like kicking people when they are down. Just think some of those employees have been there over 20 years and now what happens to them. I for one will miss them and if they do have to leave another Supermarket would not be such a bad idea for that space. Not everything needs to be placed West of the parkway. I wish nothing but the best for all the employees from the A&P. With times being as they are I am sure it will not be easy. God Bless them all and thank you for many years of service.
Joanne April 10, 2011 at 09:57 PM
Dear Peggy...as a matter of fact I do know what I'm speaking of... I have been a shopper at this particular store myself and I did not say all the part timers didn't care but there were some that did not... You can't dispute the fact that the store was dirty and over priced and if convenience was the only reason you shopped there well so be it. Personally it sounds as if you're an employee.. As for kicking someone when they're down, as I said in my post.. my husband was out of work for almost 2 years and know first hand the devastation this can cause...ie: like losing our home and having to go bankrupt, but you know what??? We manage to eat, pray and Help others when we can and don't complain...But as for my post I am just as entitled to state my comments without being berated for doing so. Also feel comfort in knowing that the 20 yrs and so employees are being offered jobs at other stores, so they will still have work...As I also said before I wish them all the best and you as well...
Peggy April 11, 2011 at 01:25 PM
First let me say you are entitled to your opinions without being berated. I was not berating you I was just responding to what you stated were facts. Lets also get a fact straight I am not an employee of the A&P - I am exactly what I stated in my post I was - someone who cares about the people who work there and was commenting on the statement you made as known fact that most part timers perform poorly. In my opinion this insults all people hired as part timers. I have grandchildren that work part time and as I said in my post they work after school jobs and they do not work poorly or treat their customers disrespectfully. And no they do not work for A&P but I would be proud of them if they did. I also thank God for you and your family that after two years your husband was offered a job but what if he was offered a part time job. How would you feel if you read what you stated about part timers? And in regards to your comment about the employees being offered jobs you should check the facts on that. You wish them all the best but yet knock how they kept the conditions of the store. Why can't everyone just wish them good luck and keep them in their prayers? Why is it that our first instincts is to pick out all the negatives. And FYI personally you have no idea who I am. If you care to know I am someone who cares about people that have worked for over 20 years and are not being treated fairly that is a fact. Sorry if you took offense to my response to your FACTS.
Debra May 05, 2011 at 09:17 PM
I agree it was sad they closed but the store took a downward spiral many years ago. the place was always dirty and the freezers were always broken. i would see groceries in carts that belonged in freezers late at night and then back in the freezers the next day. also the cold cut counter was filthy , the workers behind the deli counter would be mopping with filthy mops and then cutting cold cuts...flys in cold cut cases..really bad. although some workers were friendly and nice and i have seen them many years there. i stopped buying meats and cold cuts there 11 years ago. just ran in there for emergency items. its too bad they couldnt keep up with high standards because that was why it didnt make it... they store just fell apart about 10 years ago in my opinion....i have been living here 24 years... genardis looks pretty bad now too....i only shop in waretown shop rite now...

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