At a Glance
700 Paramus Park
Paramus, NJ 07652
Opening date: Sept. 18, 2019
Hours: Monday-Saturday 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sunday 8 a.m.-9 p.m.
Total square footage: 100,000 (includes upstairs offices and party room)
Selling area in square feet: 40,000
Number of checkouts: 25
Designer: Richard Lung, Stew Leonard's director of art and advertising
After all, Stew Leonard’s, a northeastern chain of grocery stores based in Norwalk, Conn., began as a dairy.
In the early 1920s, Charles Leonard founded a milk delivery company called Clover Farms Dairy in Norwalk. In 1969, the Leonard family moved the dairy plant to another location in Norwalk and opened a small storefront. Eventually, the company expanded that store by adding meat, seafood and other departments, including eclectic features such as a petting zoo and animatronic puppets (the company’s founder was a big fan of Walt Disney).
Over the decades, the still-family-owned retailer’s reputation for top-quality fresh food, unique private-brand products and a “Disney-esque” shopping experience have fueled so much devotion from shoppers that the company has grown into a seven-store chain with annual sales of $500 million.
“What we’re trying to do is really create a fun experience in the store,” explains President and CEO Stew Leonard Jr. “That’s the big challenge that all retailers have today. There’s going to be grocery items that shoppers are going to buy over the Internet, like canned food or laundry detergent. Why go to a store for that? So what we try to do is make a big splash in fresh food and create a theatrical environment to make grocery shopping in the store fun.”
Farmers’ Market Fun
Each Stew Leonard’s store, including the new one in Paramus (a wealthy suburb of New York City), has a rustic, farmer’s market-style façade. Inside, a single one-way aisle winds through the store in a zigzag, similar to the experience of walking through an attraction at Disney World.