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1750 Whitehorse Mercerville Rd, Hamilton, NJ

Original Tenant: Grand Union
Address: 1750 Whitehorse Mercerville Rd, Hamilton, NJ
Opened: 1970s
Closed: late 1980s
Later Tenants: Laurenti ShopRite (late 1980s-late 1990s) > Big V ShopRite (late 1990s-2002)
Photographed: January 2021
Well everybody, allow me to introduce one of the coolest abandoned supermarkets I've ever visited. This beauty of an eyesore takes up 33,000 square feet of a 63,000 square foot totally-abandoned strip mall on Whitehorse Mercerville Road in the Hamilton Square part of Hamilton Township. An additional 45,000 square feet next door -- likely previously a department store -- is now a self-storage facility (see before and after here).
Google Maps caught the abandoned strip after all the tenants closed but before the property was blocked off. I was able to wander in to this mall, which is all still supposed to be available retail space, for some very cool exclusive interior photos. (To my knowledge, no one else has gotten interior photos of this store.) Note the two doors covered over to the left here, which may have been an original entrance/exit setup. At some point, the entrance was moved all the way over to the right of the main set of windows with the exit on the left side.
An extremely faint ShopRite labelscar here but not all that much to see labelscar-wise, not even in person. It's when we get up close that things start to get fun...
Let's review the history of this store, most of which I got from a commenter here. The store was built in the 1970s as a Grand Union, then sold to the Laurenti family in the late 1980s. They reopened the store as a ShopRite before selling their whole chain to Big V Supermarkets, also a ShopRite operator, in the late 1990s. Big V became large and powerful and wanted to leave the ShopRite/Wakefern cooperative, but Wakefern had put stipulations in membership contracts that made it very hard and expensive to leave the cooperative if you are large and powerful (if I remember correctly, there was a charge per store and also relative to the volume that the store does). That, of course, was a response to Supermarkets General leaving in 1968 and forming Pathmark. It was designed to let single-store or small-time operators to leave if they so desired, but make it hard for the cooperative to lose a large lot of stores all at once. Wakefern left a loophole: if the operator intended to go off on their own completely and not sell out to another chain, the charge would be nullified. So Big V attempted to convince Wakefern that they were planning to become totally independent while simultaneously meeting with Stop & Shop for an acquisition deal. Problem is that the Stop & Shop negotiations were barely kept secret and Wakefern refused Big V's independent claim. Big V had run out of money and declared bankruptcy, with many of their stores being purchased by assorted other operators or Wakefern corporate, and if I'm not mistaken just one store going to Stop & Shop. This store was not purchased and consequently closed in 2002.
Entrance at the right side of the storefront. Some great signage on and around the entrance door...
Looking inside the exit door.
This appears to be a manager's office or something, just next to the entrance and exit.
Obviously, this store's building has seen better days and is likely not salvageable after being vacant for 20 years. As exciting as this store is for me to see, it's unbelievably ugly for those who live near it so now that I've preserved it, let's get to redeveloping this property!
Painted exit sign, which I would wager is from Grand Union.
This remarkably modern bulletin board is right inside the entrance/exit foyer, and I have to assume it was installed right before the store closed. These are still going strong in a lot of ShopRites.
Here we can get a good look out into the store's sales floor from the front windows. Here's something to note -- there's a ShopRite at Hamilton Square, at the corner of Whitehorse Hamilton Square Road and NJ-33, that opened in the 1970s roughly a mile and a quarter to the northeast. That store was built as a Penn Fruit and likely became a Laurenti, then Big V, ShopRite in the same timeline as this one but then in 2002 was sold to Saker Supermarkets which at the time was called Foodarama. Around 2010, that Hamilton Square ShopRite was expanded to its present 82,000 square feet and seems to be, as with most Saker stores, crazy popular.
Looks like most of the fixtures and decor inside were removed (sent to other stores?) but the flooring and ceiling remain, mostly.
Very cool to glimpse inside this very old store before its inevitable demolition soon enough, I'm sure.
A look across the front walkway of the store.
And here's a shot of the whole strip mall, as I said, all vacant and closed off. Unfortunately, we won't be visiting the Hamilton Square ShopRite (we'll be stopping by the other ShopRite in Hamilton Township, though) but we will be taking a tour of the supermarket just across the street from it tomorrow on The Market Report. Stay tuned!

Comments

  1. Thanks so much for sharing these extraordinary pictures. IMO, this abandoned building is on my list of top ten worst looking former supermarkets, though it still isn't quite as bad as the Clementon Shoprite/Pathmark/Acme (since demolished), the A&P/Key Food on Spruce Street in Newark, or even the Egg Harbor City Acme.

    Though I cannot provide any specific dates regarding the Grand Union and ShopRite that operated here, I can report the following:

    *The shopping center didn't yet exist in the 1970 view provided on HistoricAerials.com

    *An August 10, 1975 newspaper ad for Light 'n Lovely (which appeared to be a fitness club for women) mentioned that one of its locations was at Klockner & Whitehorse - Mercerville Rds. in the Grand Union Shopping Center.

    *From June 1978 through July 1979, Grand Union newspaper ads stated that prices were effective at all stores in New Jersey other than Ewing and Hamilton. This statement stopped appearing in August 1979 Grand Union ads, so I'm assuming that both the Ewing and Hamilton stores were closed by then.

    *The ShopRite opened no later than September 1981. Per the 9/19/81 edition of the Asbury Park Press, "Laurenti's Shop-Rite Supermarkets 10 Kilometer Run, starting at 11 a.m. from Shop-Rite, Whitehorse-Mercerville Road, Hamilton Township" was going to occur on September 27.

    Before I conclude this post, I just want to say that I agree with "styertowne," who left a comment below JoshAustin610's photo in which he stated that this store's exterior reminded him of the supermarkets Stop & Shop was constructing in the late-70s.

    --A&P Fan

    ReplyDelete
  2. This building is now going to be repurposed for a school building for HTSD.

    ReplyDelete

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