Original Tenant: Rex-Gene Food Warehouse
Address: 136 Monmouth Rd, West Long Branch, NJ
Later Tenants: unsure of exact location
Photographed: January 2021
Bear with me on this one. I am fairly certain that this 26,000 square foot segment at the far right of the Kmart of West Long Branch was previously a Rex-Gene Food Warehouse -- but I am not entirely convinced that the Rex-Gene wasn't at the far left side of the Kmart, since I recall reading that Kmart expanded into the Rex-Gene space. The Kmart closed in early 2020 and, to my knowledge, remains vacant.
Rex-Gene is not a chain about which there is a lot of information on the internet, but I'm going to give a few details here. The chain originated in Brooklyn and later expanded to New Jersey, eventually moving their headquarters to Red Bank. I am unsure how many stores Rex-Gene had at its peak, but by early 1998, they were down to five: Berkeley, West Long Branch, Rahway, Sayreville, and Manalapan. Berkeley closed at the beginning of 1998, with Manalapan closing in March of that year. In June, Queens, NY-based Western Beef announced that they were purchasing Rahway, Sayreville, and Manalapan, as well as the fixtures and equipment from West Long Branch. It's unclear to me whether Western Beef ever actually operated Sayreville or Manalapan, but if they were, they would've been extremely short-lived Western Beef stores like Rahway was. Here in West Long Branch, I believe Kmart expanded into the former Rex-Gene space; Rahway became Universal Meat Supermarket not long after Western Beef closed; and Manalapan became a gym. I have been unable to pinpoint where exactly the Berkeley and Sayreville locations were. (My sources for the other info are here and here.) If you have any memories of Rex-Gene or any additional information, please share in the comments! And don't forget to check out today's other post, the ShopRite just across the street here. Up next we're headed down to Belmar on The Market Report!
Rex-Gene definitely was at the east end where the Harley dealer is now. Kmart may well have expanded toward that side. I was in that Kmart store only once, around 2000-2001 and recall it being massive. It was the only Kmart that I know of in Monmouth/Ocean with a pharmacy, and had a very large HABA section compared to other Kmart locations in the area.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the history and info here!Delete
The versions of this setup I have seen around here were strictly the Kmart and the supermarket (no other storefronts attached).ReplyDelete
If this is a similar case, that would make sense (as Mike suggested) that the market was the right end, and also that it may have gone farther left (possibly into most, if not all, of that beige section in the middle), which would also explain the Kmart expansion after the supermarket left.
I do remember seeing at least one photo where the Kmart took over the entire building, but obviously that isn't the case here - it may have just depended on how large the Kmart was to begin with, when the supermarket left and what (if any) demand there was for the remaining space (say if a tenant was interested in a certain size spot, Kmart might opt to take over the difference rather than leave a slice empty in the middle).
It never really looked like Kmart had the entire space. The storefront on that end was more or less boarded up and looked derelict for at least 15 years. At one point you could see a Rex-Gene labelscar but it was long gone by the time the motorcycle dealer went in there.Delete
Yes, that all makes sense. Thank you for the insight!Delete
Manalapan was definitely a Western Beef.ReplyDelete
I think that Sayreville was in the former Shoprite. The one that closed when Ernston rd opened. Maybe it is now a Walgreens?
Ah, that would make a lot of sense. I didn't even think of that. Thanks!Delete