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Fulfilling a Vision

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A brilliantly reimagined replacement store helps the family reassert its commitment to excellence and innovation

If the degree of a grocer’s satisfaction with the unveiling of a highly anticipated concept replacement store is determined by community reaction, then the Bottino family has ample reason to be ecstatic with the early results of its new flagship replacement store in Vineland, New Jersey.

Taking shape at a rapid clip after clearing the crucial approval, design and construction phases, the Vineland debuted less than two years from its start date — an achievement that Jim Bottino, president and CEO of Upper Deerfield, New Jersey-based family grocer Bottino Holdings, describes as being “extremely rewarding for everyone involved. The process of developing a store from beginning to end has been both challenging and educational. Every aspect of the process is important, from controlling costs, to making things more energy-efficient, to designing an environment that gives the customer a great in-store experience.”

Bottino’s four ShopRites are veritable fixtures in their stomping grounds, which are in proximity to New Jersey State Routes 47 and 55 — byways routinely traversed by mobs of regional weekly beachgoers en route to roughly 10 shore points along the southern New Jersey coastline. But Bottino’s bread-and-butter business revolves solely around taking care of its culturally diverse, food-savvy core customer base.

Bearing Fruit

A co-op member of the well-respected Wakefern Food Corp., Bottino Holdings has opened its newest show-stopping ShopRite to replace a leased store just a stone’s throw from its present home. An integral part of a development boom along Vineland’s main drag, Landis Avenue, the store is situated in the crosshairs of a community that claims the highest number of residents of any other in Cumberland County. Rooted in industry and agriculture that remain in place today, Vineland has welcomed waves of immigrants through the centuries. Originally a 1-square-mile planned community surrounded by farmland, Vineland was renowned for its rich grape-growing soil — ergo its name — and served as the founding home of Welch’s grape juice in the late 1800s.

The fruits of the community’s labours continue to denote evolution and innovation today. “Seeing it all come to fruition has been so exciting,” notes Bottino. “On grand-opening day in early June, customers were lined up, and their positive feedback has been overwhelming. People have told us we have exceeded their expectations,” which he says is proof positive that the store delivers on one of his family’s central goals: “To differentiate by offering more variety and an unrivaled service level to elevate an overall fresh feel in the shopping experience.”

While differentiation is an indisputable mandate before all retailers, the stakes are more-so/then-some with a 24/7 Walmart Supercenter situated within immediate eyeshot of the parking lot. But Bottino’s isn’t blinking — at least not that we can tell.

‘The Very Best’

Housed within roughly 90,000 sqft of space, the gleaming new ShopRite is the largest of several retail sections, accounting for about 75,000 sqft. Bottino’s co-located liquor store, entered through a common lobby, takes up about 9,000 sqft; the remaining space is used for various retail sites, including a Hair Cuttery and a CompleteCare health clinic.

Springboarding off a platform of expanded departments in a sleek, modern design is “a state-of-the-art store that offers our customers the very best that ShopRite stands for,” Bottino notes. In addition to a broad array of groceries, fresh produce, and a huge selection of natural and organic products in every department, “this store has several services that ShopRite customers have come to expect,” including a fresh bake shop, fresh cut-to-order meat, an in-store café, full-service catering and floral departments, and fresh seafood delivered daily, he adds. “We also offer customers a hot buffet bar, as well as a wide variety of freshly prepared entrées and gourmet delicacies, fresh-baked pizza, fresh-made sushi, a cold buffet bar, a Mediterranean olive bar and cheeses from around the world.”

As part of the store’s aim to provide a bona fide one-stop shopping experience, Bottino says the addition of the “ShopRite From Home” pickup and delivery service “is a great way to make life easier for our customers. They can place their grocery orders online and have them delivered at a specific time or picked up at the store at their convenience. We also wanted our new store to appeal to the very diverse customer base in our surrounding communities.”

Accordingly, the new store offers an expanded selection of international offerings integrated throughout every department.

Customers as Guide

Beyond the principal enhancements of products and services, ShopRite of Vineland boasts an abundance of the latest technologies that drastically cut operational costs via the cutting-edge, energy-saving, sustainable solutions in refrigeration and lighting, including glass doors on the dairy and freezer cases, LED and T-8 lighting, and environmentally friendly refrigerant systems.

In the first ground-up project “where we were both the retailer and the developer, wearing both hats forced us to look at things from different perspectives,” says Bottino. “As a developer, you look to control costs, yet as a retailer, you’re focussed on the shopping experience from the customer’s point of view.”

With bigger, wider aisles that provide for a more dynamic presentation of products, the owners incorporated “lots of customer feedback we’ve received over the years — everything from making the lighting better to making the aisles wider — and it’s really worked out well. Our new design brings a stronger focus to fresh and organic produce, prepared foods, meat and seafood — the things our customers are most interested in — and offers a much better footprint that we believe has stronger appeal to our loyal customers, and new ones as well.”