Stew Leonard’s will open its first ever Garden State grocery store this fall at Paramus Park Mall.

At a groundbreaking ceremony Friday morning, local officials, as well as Stew Leonard’s executives, cheered the occasion with champagne glasses filled with milk.

Dubbed as “the Disneyland of Dairy Stores” by the New York Times, the 80,000-square foot supermarket will feature farm fresh food and interactive animatronic characters that perform shows to entertain shoppers.

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The supermarket, which will take the place of the mall’s anchor spot previously held by the now-shuttered Sears, is expected to bring 350 jobs to the area and give locals a fun, festive and fresh shopping experience.

At Friday’s celebration, Paramus Mayor Rich Labarbiera welcomed Stew Leonard’s, saying that the borough was “a great choice for the new store” since “data shows the zip code of Paramus 07652 rings up more retail sales than any other zip code in the country.”

Also present at the groundbreaking were U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, Bergen County Executive James Tedesco, Paramus Councilwoman Holly Tedesco-Santos, State Sen. Joseph Lagana, Assemblyman Christopher Tully, Assemblywoman Lisa Swain, Paramus Police Chief Kenneth Ehrenberg, as well as representatives from organizations including the local chamber of commerce, PBA, women’s club, elk’s lodge and rotary club.

Here are eight things to know about Stew Leonard’s.

  1. The family-owned grocery chain began in 1969 as a small dairy store with seven employees. It has since expanded to six locations in Connecticut and New York, employing more than 2,200 people. It also licenses its name to nine wine shops, including locations in Paramus, Clifton and Springfield.
  2. The store is expected to be open by late October – just in time to begin preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. 
  3. The store is best known for its dairy products, which arrive fresh daily and are labeled: “You’d have to own a cow to get fresher milk!” Stew Leonard’s plans to source its produce from local farmers in New Jersey. The Garden State is among the top producing agricultural states in the country, with over 10,000 farms spread across 8,000 acres.
  4. It’ll feature Stew Leonard’s signature one-way aisle (similar to IKEA), farm fresh food, a “from scratch baker,” a cut to order butcher shop, fresh seafood department, catering, buffet bar and free sample stations.
  5. Product offerings are much smaller than what are carried at other supermarkets since Stew Leonard’s sells a ton of items under its own label. Stew Leonard’s stocks about 2,200 items, compared with traditional grocery stores, which can carry tens of thousands of products. Weekly pricing surveys have also found that Stew Leonard’s prices are generally 10 to 15% lower than other chains, according to the company’s fact sheet.
  6. There are plans to move Stew Leonard’s Wines & Spirits of Paramus, currently located on Route 17, to the interior of the new store, making it the chains first supermarket to sell both food and wine. The move is subject to approval from the New Jersey Alcohol Beverage Control, according to Stew Leonard’s.
  7. There’s no loyalty card program for shoppers, but don’t worry – you’ll still get some free perks. For every $100 spent, shoppers can score freebies like a cup of coffee or a scoop of ice cream. The company is also known for its ironclad customer service policy, which is visible near entrances of stores (“Rule 1: The customer is always right. Rule 2: If the customer is ever wrong, reread rule 1.”)
  8. The $400 million-a-year company sees about 11 million shoppers annually. It was designated as the “World’s Largest Dairy Store” by the Guinness Book of World Records and regularly ranks as one of Fortune Magazine’s best places to work.