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POLL: Can't We Put a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods There?

What would you like to see fill Fort Monmouth's empty commissary?

If there were to be a silver lining to the , it's that the future redevelopment of the property would breathe new life into business community and residents' shopping opportunities.

Take for example the , which has been shuttered for six months, but when the building is finally leased, will become a part of Oceanport proper.

We've heard that there's been some interest in leasing the former grocery store, and that got us fantasizing about the possibilities -- could it be that the retail gods would bless us with a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods Market close to home?

But it’s not always that simple. Each company has it’s own standards and requirements that have to be met before they expand into an area, and even then, meeting those standards doesn’t necessarily mean the companies will come.

“It’s all laid out on the web,” said Whole Foods spokesman Michael Sinatra. “People always think it’s financially driven, they think it’s about income. But one thing we do look at is the number of college educated people in an area.”

Sinatra said that shoppers with college degrees are often more interested in the type of food they’re putting into their body, creating a demand for natural or organic foods.

Both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s invite people to visit their Web sites and suggest areas for new stores. According to the Whole Food’s site, some requirements include: having 200,000 or more people within a 20-minute drive time; a location that’s between 25,000 and 50,000 square feet; that there be a large number of college-educated residents; ample parking for the store’s exclusive use; a stand alone location preferably; easy access from roadways, lighted intersection; excellent visibility directly off the street; and that the location be in a high traffic area either by foot or vehicle.

But even if an area meets all those requirements, Whole Foods may still not come, said Sinatra. The small company is just a little over 30 years old, and only has been in the Northeast for 10 years. The slowly expanding grocery chain expects to open just 20 to 35 new locations nationwide this year—with an eventual goal of 1,000 stores nationwide—with only one to four of those sites in the Tri-State area.

“We’re very selective in what we do. We don’t grow fast in that every store is custom built for the community,” said Sinatra.

Like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s also encourages residents to suggest particular locations for new stores. The grocery chain did not return several calls from the East Brunswick Patch. In addition, several real estate professionals in the area who have worked with Trader Joe's say they are forbidden to speak to the press about the grocery story chain.

The chain has about 375 stores and was founded in in the late 1950s. Supermarket Weekly, ranked the chain No. 22 in its list of Top 75 food retailers in North America that achieved annual sales in excess of $1 billion.

Shannon K. Winning March 20, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Yes Mick, that is a great idea. There is a great one in Hazlet. Would love to see one closer.
Christina Warren March 20, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Wow.....just wow.
Christina Warren March 20, 2012 at 11:13 PM
That is a really good one too! Currently we have the Purple Dragon in some local homes and TF has it's Community Garden, but to have a large Farmers Market would be great!
Enrico Palazzo March 21, 2012 at 03:57 AM
Just keeping it real, Mick.
Nancy March 21, 2012 at 01:26 PM
I didn't really see it as dumping the homeless. I thought that the communities would contribute the same as they do now, the funding wouldn't change. There is mass transit, the Little Silver train station is right down the street, buses go down Rt. 35 and I am sure they could add stop at the Fort. I just saw it as a use for ALL of the buildings already there and a convenience for homeless families. Also, I know there is a homeless shelter there, but it is only one small building. My idea incorporated it as a whole learning, helping community. It was just an idea.

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