SPRINGFIELD, NJ — Even though the storefront in Echo Plaza is now closed to customers, Stew Leonard's Wines and Spirits made its mark in Springfield.

For Blake Leonard, a sommelier and owner of the storefront, the decision to leave was not one that the company made of its own volition. In response to questions from TAPinto Springfield, Leonard said that the decade the company spent in town was special, and that they are sad to go after all this time.

"If we could, we would stay open," Leonard said. "We have loved being a part of the Springfield community for the past 10 years. We have made wonderful friends and customers and it’s bittersweet to have to say goodbye for now. We’re going to miss eating at Cioffi’s down the street.

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"It’s a great market with great customers, and we would love to open a food and wine store here in the future. In the meantime, we look forward to welcoming our customers at our Clifton wine store and our new Paramus Wine & Food store at Paramus Park Mall."

Leonard also confirmed that the reason for the departure was that his storefront and the leasing company had come to a standstill on negotiations, after the leasing company attempted to raise the price of the rent during the last round of talks.

In one of its most recent community charity actions before closing, the store helped by donating turkeys to the long-running Rotary and Springfield H.O.P.E. food drive last November.

Mike Scalera, the co-chair of the Springfield Business Improvement District (BID) said that he was sad to see a store like Stew Leonard's leave the Springfield business community.

"Absolutely, because they've been a pillar, between their staff and what they bring to the community," Scalera said. "They've been involved in all the Fall Festival events, they've been a part of the Springfield community, but [...] they were a very professional company, being in Springfield. It's on the forefront of them leaving and many people are sad to see them go."

Scalera also noted that from what he had heard firsthand, the business had had a major uptick in sales compared to their numbers from this point in 2019, so any supposed lack of commerce was not the reason for the store closure.

Following the closure of Stew Leonard's, the storefront in Echo Plaza will soon be a Dollar Tree.