Less than a year after Lawrence Shopping Center lost the tenant of its supermarket anchor, a new grocer confirmed it will be filling the spot.
Germany-based market Lidl is in the preliminary planning phases for the former Acme location on Brunswick Pike, a company spokesman said, adding that it is too early to offer a specific time frame for the store’s opening.
“However, we can tell you we plan to put a store in this location,” Lidl’s Chandler Ebeier said in an email. “We believe Lidl’s award winning shopping experience will be a great addition to the Lawrenceville community.”
The new tenant would fill a large void in the shopping center, a 39,681-square-foot anchor at the plaza’s northeast corner. When Acme closed the 2497 Brunswick Ave. location last August, it was the first time in generations there wasn’t a grocery store in that spot. Acme had operated there since November 1979. Food Fair and Pantry Pride also have occupied the unit.
Acme made the decision to leave the shopping center in July 2018 in part because the Lawrence store had not met corporate goals for a number of years, Acme spokesperson Dana Ward said at the time.
Since then, fortunes have turned some for Lawrence Shopping Center. Construction began in mid-July 2018 on updating the facade of the entire complex, fulfilling a vow by owners JJ Operating to invest $5 million into capital improvements at the shopping center. Bury the Hatchet, an ax-throwing entertainment center, opened in the center in late 2018. A L.A. Fitness gym has long been confirmed for the plaza, with construction imminent. And, in late July, township manager Kevin Nerwinski shared on social media that auto parts store AutoZone had executed a lease in the shopping center.
Lidl now joins the list. Lawrence will be one of the first communities in the United States to have a Lidl market, with the company starting its expansion into the United States just a few years ago, in 2017. It has focused on the East Coast, with markets in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Georgia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The closest Lidl to Lawrence currently is in Hazlet, about 40 miles away.
Lidl opened its first store in 1973, near Frankfurt, Germany. Today, it has 10,500 stores in 29 countries.
The closest comparison to Lidl is its German counterpart, Aldi. About 90 percent of products at Lidl stores are the company’s private brand. Customers provide their own bags. The product assortment changes about twice a week, meaning that in addition to grocery items, things like small appliances, kitchen gadgets, clothing, toys, power tools, home décor and gardening supplies can be found at Lidl from time to time. All this is done, the company says, in the name of passing savings on to its customers.