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This article by Richard K. Rein was prepared for the April 9, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Let us now praise famous supermarkets. I am writing
about Pathmark, the now departed, 24-hour, seven-day-a-week food emporium
in Windsor Green on Route 1 South. From the time when I was first
plunged into the daunting world of shopping for food and household
items for myself and two growing boys, until last month when the store
was shut down for lack of business, the Pathmark was my supermarket
For me the big attraction in a supermarket is not organic produce
or grass-fed beef but rather the hours of operation. A fumbling bachelor
competing for space in a crowded supermarket aisle — trying to
calculate which detergent is a better value on a shelf packed with
dozens of different brands in dozens of different sizes with a variety
of special coupons and store deals advertised — is not a pretty
sight. At Pathmark the aisles were exceptionally wide, and at Tuesday
night at 11:30 p.m. exceptionally accessible.
At Pathmark, for every brand name staring at you with one price, the
supermarket had a house brand right next to it, with a price that
was often 30 or 40 percent less. A six pack of SunMaid raisins in
those 1.5 ounce boxes: $1.79. Pathmark raisins packaged in the exact
same way: $1.20
And Pathmark always had deals. There was a special place at the Windsor
Green store, near the last aisle where the paper and plastic products
were stocked, where Pathmark would fill a table with odd tools —
most priced at $5 or less. I have an 18-inch steel pry bar that I
carry with me every day. It was a $3 item at Pathmark.
A month or so before the closing, a Pathmark employee was killed trying
to cross Route 1 from the spot where the NJ Transit bus had stopped.
That tragedy put Pathmark into the chatter at cocktail parties and
social gatherings — I was amazed at how many people identified
themselves as Pathmark devotees for pretty much the same reasons as
I went. Here was a place that everybody went to because nobody was
ever there. It was the opposite of Yogi Berra’s famous restaurant
that was so crowded nobody ever went there anymore. In the weeks since
Pathmark’s demise I have been searching for another supermarket with
similarly generous hours. Here are some of them:
Open 7 days from 6 a.m. to midnight.
Wegmans was my first stop after Pathmark closed. The chain has a store
in Johnson City, New York, that is the talk of the town in that area
where relatives of mine live. Because I dread the Nassau Park parking
lot I went well after 10 p.m. But the store was too much for me —
some sections seemed like a full-scale kitchen appliance store. I
never did find the raisins.
Open Monday through Saturday 6 a.m. to midnight and Sunday 6 a.m.
to 10 p.m. After Wegmans I crossed Genuardi’s off my list — my
image was that it was similarly upscale and just not right for novice
Open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sunday from
8 a.m. until 9 p.m. McCaffrey’s on Princeton-Hightstown Road in West
Windsor, 609-799-3555, has the same hours, except it closes at 8 p.m.
When I have to go shopping with my kids, this is now my market of
choice. It’s clean, friendly, and easy to figure out. It’s also more
expensive than Pathmark, but the produce — especially — seems
to be consistently better.
Skillman. 609-279-9800. Open 6 a.m. to midnight seven days a week.
This is a little out of my way, but I like the hours and will keep
it as a backup choice.
Open 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Now that Pathmark is gone, Superfresh is the only 24/7 supermarket
in the area. I had high hopes when I went there (at 7 a.m. on a recent
Sunday morning), but left a little disappointed. Problem No. 1: The
signs listing the products in each aisle were placed in a way that
forced me to walk to the head of each aisle in order to read them.
Problem No. 2: Those SunMaid raisins were $1.99 a six-pack. The store
brand, America’s Choice, were $2.19! I shared this with an accomplished
shopper, and she immediately surmised that the store brand had been
mislabeled. I should have brought both to the checkout, I was advised.
609-452-2354. Open daily Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 11
p.m., 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. Recently renovated, the Acme is
a little more upscale than it had been, but not intimidating for an
amateur. On the very first visit I manage to find the raisins:
The house brand is 50 cents cheaper than SunMaid.
At the checkout the cashier presents the acid test: Would I like an
Acme Supercard? Yes, I say. I put it in my wallet, next to the Advantage
Club card from Pathmark.
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