Business & Finance

A&P Files for Bankruptcy; Fanwood Store's Future Uncertain

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SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ - According to a report in Wednesday's New York Post, the corporate parent of A&P food stores may file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as early as this week. 

However, the A&P in Fanwood (105 South Ave.) has no immediate plans to close, according to a customer service employee at the store.

"I hope we're staying open," the representative told TAP into SPF. "They haven't told us anything."

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A&P currently has more than 100 stores, mostly in the New York-New Jersey metro area. The Montvale, NJ-based supermarket chain has been struggling for years. In addition to its iconic A&P stores, the company also owns the Food Emporium, Pathmark, and Waldbaums supermarket brands.

"I only go to A&P when I need something quick. It's convenient because of its location. There's never enough help, and the lines are too long," said Fanwood resident Jacqui Gross. "I'm a Wegmans person; I go there for everything. The same bag of dog food at Wegmans costs me two dollars more at the A&P. It is much more expensive."

Others, such as Amy Schetelich of Scotch Plains, are fans of the store. 

"I like it. The A&P is smaller and not overwhelming. It doesn't take you an hour to get through it all the aisles," Schetelich said. "The staff is nice. They know me and my kids."

A&P was founded in 1859 as the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company and became America's first grocery chain. By 1930, the company was the world's largest retailer, reaching $1 billion in sales. A&P adopted the self-serve supermarket concept in 1936 and opened 4,000 stores by 1950, according to Marc Levinson's 2011 book, The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America. At one time, A&P operated 16,000 locations.

The Fanwood store faces competition from Shop Rite supermarkets at the Blue Star Mall in Watchung, on North Ave. in Garwood, and on Central Ave. in Clark, as well as Stop & Shop in Watchung Square and Trader Joe's in downtown Westfield. In August, a Whole Foods location will open at Clark Commons. A&P chain also competes against mega retailers, such as Target and Wal*Mart, which have increased their grocery offerings in recent years, and shopping clubs, such as BJ's and Costco.

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