Barnegat Genuardi’s Shutting Down in December
For the second time in less than two years, a grocery supermarket will be closing in Barnegat Township. On Dec. 15, the Genuardi’s supermarket will be ceasing operations after its parent company, Safeway, was unable to find a buyer. In the spring of 2011, the A&P at the Bayshore Plaza closed. In September 2012, a Big Lots franchise opened at the site.
Located on West Bay Avenue right before the Garden State Parkway north exit, Genuardi’s opened in November 1999; one year later, the chain was purchased by Safeway. Greg Ten Eyck, Safeway spokesman, said most of the 27 remaining Genuardi’s stores in New Jersey and Pennsylvania are being taken over by Giant Foodstores.
But he said the store in Barnegat, as well as one in Egg Harbor City, was put up for sale at the beginning of the year.
“We have been unsuccessful in finding a buyer, so those two stores are going to close,” said Ten Eyck. “Our goal was to have the sites taken over by another supermarket chain, but it has been tough during this economic climate we’re in, so it did not work out.”
He said the Barnegat store employes 66 people.
“This is sure going to be tough on people, losing their job right before the holidays,” said Township Committeeman Len Morano. “I think the Genuardi’s went downhill once Safeway took over. They really blew that store. It was very convenient, especially for many of people living west of the Garden State Parkway. Without a supermarket chain in our town, people will be going to Manahawkin or Waretown. Big Lots seems like a nice business, but it is more of a general discount store instead of a supermarket, like the A&P or Genuardi’s.”
Township Administrator David Breeden said he was “disappointed” by the store’s closing.
“While the township is very limited in its response to the closing of a private business, it is important for us to recognize the value of such a large commercial establishment and for the township to take necessary action in order to preserve jobs along with attracting another food business to Barnegat. It is important to wherever possible to keep Barnegat dollars in Barnegat. The Genuardi’s is the anchor of the Barnegat Village Square Shopping Center, and it is essential for a new tenant to be found quickly so that the economic viability of the center is maintained.”
Lori Pepenella, destination marketing director for the Southern Ocean Chamber of Commerce, said because decisions to shut down supermarkets are being made on corporate and regional levels, the closing “has no reflection on us as an area.”
“Our year-round residents and visitors have relied on these businesses for their shopping needs, and they also are a good source of employment for local people,” said Pepenella. “Our population needs these stores, so I can only hope that a similar type of store will go in place of Genuardi’s. I’m confident that this will happen.”
Genuardi’s roots go back to 1920 when Gaspare and Josephine Genuardi grew fruits and vegetables on a farm they owned near Norristown, Pa. When they retired, five of their sons took over the business, which was known as the Genuardi Brothers. In 1954 they opened their first Genuardi’s supermarket in Norristown, which is the oldest of the remaining stores. At its zenith in the 1990s, the Genuardi’s chain numbered 39 supermarkets.
— Eric Englund