Stew Leonard’s Comes to Paramus, NJ
Stew Leonard’s is celebrating its new Paramus, N.J., store – its first in New Jersey – this week by inviting lifestyle guru Martha Stewart to return to her home state to preside over the grand opening. First, though, the grocer is holding a Sept. 16 homecoming reception for Stewart, who was born and raised in Nutley, during which a live Jersey cow will be named in her honor. A strong advocate for animal and farm protection, Stewart will be inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame later this month.
Meanwhile, Stew Leonard Jr., Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera and local officials will also be on hand to mark the Sept. 18 opening of the 80,000-foot store, which the company said would bring more than 350 jobs to the location at the Paramus Park Mall that was once a celery farm and more recently was occupied by Sears.
Pointing out that the Paramus store is only the grocer’s seventh – the last one opened in East Meadow on New York’s Long Island in August 2017, and the one before that in Farmingdale, also on Long Island, in January 2016 – Mike Troy, editor-in-chief and brand director of Progressive Grocer sister publication Retail Leader, nonetheless noted that was “a tremendous rate of growth for a company founded in 1969 that operated four locations (three in Connecticut and one in Yonkers, N.Y.) for most of its existence.”
Speaking of what makes the small chain successful, Troy observed: “An innovator of experiential retail and theatrical presentation, Stew Leonard’s unique value proposition stems from its limited assortment (2,200 items) and a focus on fresh categories, which account for 80% of sales. Then there is the Ikea-like approach to merchandising, where customers are channeled through the store. The concept works. Annual sales last year were more than $400 million, and with the addition of a massive new store at one of the nation’s highest-volume malls, sales are likely to surpass $500 million next year.”
Having begun as a small dairy store with just seven employees, Norwalk, Conn.-based Stew Leonard’s now employs 2,500 associates and has stores in its headquarters city; Danbury and Newington, Conn.; and East Meadow, Farmingdale and Yonkers, N.Y.