MAPLEWOOD, NJ – Maplewood residents have a wide variety of supermarkets to choose from, though perhaps none has carved out a niche quite like Kings. Despite the fact that it’s part of a chain, Kings Maplewood has developed a reputation as a local staple with its convenient location and small-town feel. Now the store will try attracting even more customers with a complete rebranding.
Though it remained open during renovations, Kings officially unveiled its revamped Maplewood store with a ceremony on Friday, June 28. The event featured speeches from Kings management and Maplewood Mayor Victor DeLuca before culminating in a pasta-ribbon cutting. Afterward, people were able to enjoy in-store tastings and receive shopping cart makeovers from Shari Bilt Boockvar of Nutrifacts Inc.
The franchise-wide rebranding brings about improvements in both store design and selection. The new Kings has more space for extra cases and unblocked windows for a more welcoming aesthetic appearance. Additionally it boasts expanded produce, dairy and frozen food departments; chef-prepared food; and on-the-go meals.
Kings President and CEO Judy Spires said the changes represent the evolution of the store in creating a better shopping experience for shoppers.
“We wanted to really rejuvenate this fabulous brand and bring it up-to-date and really remind customers what the brand is about,” Spires said. “It’s really where inspiration strikes with the rare finds we have and the freshest, highest quality food that we have. We really wanted to reinvigorate our brand and re-engage our customers to share our love of food.”
Kings Maplewood General Store Manager Bob Turiano said the rebranding proves the chain is always raising the bar in the supermarket world. He pointed out customers love that the franchise carries items no other store has and introduces them to new products. The needs of its shoppers truly matter to Kings, he said.
“We consider what customers want, and we give to them,” Turiano said.
According to Turiano, one of the things that was requested the most was more produce options. And through the rebranding, they’ve definitely received them. In addition to the expanded produce section, which includes numerous organic selections, the chain is bringing back its Local Fresh 24/7 program for the summer. For the second year, customers can purchase fruits and vegetables in the store 24 hours after they were picked from local farms.
Paul Kneeland, vice president of produce, meat, seafood and floral, said the program is truly unique because no other supermarket has anything like it. As a result the customers, who he calls the reason Kings exists, benefit.
“They’re getting the freshest product that they can get anywhere unless they owned a farm themselves,” Kneeland said. “They’re getting the highest quality because the product’s not sitting in a warehouse somewhere for two days, three days… Ultimately it’s the best you can get.”
But Kings is not just serving the Maplewood community by providing high-quality groceries. Through its Act Against Hunger initiative, the franchise is fighting to end hunger in the tri-state area. In the past two years, the chain and its partners have donated more than 100,000 pounds of food and almost 4,500 turkeys to the poor. At the ceremony, Spires presented Sharon Reilly-Tobin of the Meeting Emergency Needs with Dignity food pantries with a check for $2,500.
“It’s very, very important that businesses are involved in the community,” Spires said. “And since Kings is all about food… it’s a natural thing that that is our commitment – to act against hunger and do all we possibly can to make sure that we’re working towards no one going to bed hungry in our state.”
Kings shoppers certainly aren’t hungry. Janine Gregory said she particularly likes the produce. Though she finds the store a bit pricy, she said the quality of the food is worth it, and that the rebranding will make it “a good trademark of the town.”
Marci Gordon, who appreciates the store’s small size and friendly personnel, said Kings is a vital part of Maplewood.
“I think it’s part of our culture,” Gordon said. “I think that Kings has that hometown feel even though they’re a somewhat large chain. It takes on the color of the community.”
Vickie Iton said the franchise is more fairly-priced than Whole Foods and “a step above” Pathmark and Shop Rite. As her “falling apart” Kings card indicates, she’s a longtime satisfied shopper.
“I’ve been a customer of Kings for about 25 years now… and they’ve always been good to their customers,” Iton said.
The goodwill is mutual. Spires wants her shoppers to know that Kings is always there for their shopping needs.
“The customers in this town are fabulous, and we truly appreciate their patronage,” she said. “We want to be here for you, and we love your feedback. Keep on shopping with us, and let us serve you.”