Walmart Supercenter opens in NB

Shoppers pour in; more competition for area markets

The Walmart chain says it brings lower prices on food and goods into communities, but it also provides sometimes unwelcomed competition for smaller stores.
North Bergen’s 217,240 square foot store opened this past Wednesday at 2100 88th St. at Tonnelle Avenue. Since the store is in North Bergen’s state-approved Urban Enterprise Zone, it is allowed to charge a 3.5 percent sales tax.
“It’s probably the greatest example of success with the UEZ,” said Mayor Nicholas Sacco Wednesday. The state offers the designation to business districts of urban areas to help them thrive.


Walmart’s new prototype “Project Impact” is being first used in the North Bergen location.

Sacco said the opening of a “major mall” along Tonnelle Avenue was the epitome of their plan to increase business and beautify the area. The Walmart is part of a group of stores including BJ’s Wholesale Club and the upcoming PetSmart.
The store is open 24 hours a day and features more than 30 merchandise departments, a photo processing center, a drive-through pharmacy and garden center, and North Jersey’s first Walmart grocery, which includes a bakery, deli, and fresh produce.
Nearby, in Secaucus, that town’s Walmart plans to add a grocery section later this year.
Steven Restivo, director of Corporate Affairs for Walmart U.S.’s Northeast Division, said that North Jersey was still “catching up” to the grocery trend that Walmart has been providing to customers throughout the country.
“The point for local customers in North Bergen is that [they] deserve more affordable grocery options, period,” said Restivo.

Shoppers line up

Around 75 people lined up last Wednesday to be the store’s first shoppers.
“I like it I’m happy they opened the super Walmart around here,” said Madeline Humecky of Jersey City as she sorted through bananas in the grocery section.

Competition for grocery chains

Walmart’s grocery section, which they say provides a “traditional grocery” experience, is equipped with meat and fresh produce, but does not have a butcher on site.
“As a company we are world renowned for efficiencies, logistics, transportation, store operations, and all of those savings are reflected in the prices you see in the store, both on the groceries [and other merchandise],” said Restivo. “We will not be beat on price.”
These traditionally low prices at Walmart can often increase the competition for chains like Pathmark and ShopRite.
“This isn’t the first time that we’ve come up against some formidable competition,” said ShopRite Spokesperson Elisabeth Lobe last week. “Competition is part of this business and we face it every day.”
Lobe said that one advantage ShopRite has is that because they are independently owned, their store owners tend to have a pulse on their community’s needs. She said that they all are staffed by bakers, butchers, and fish purveyors who are experts at their craft.
“They know their customers and they know their communities,” said Lobe.

Grocery hires 100 unionized workers

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents workers ranging from retail to meatpacking, had opposed the Walmart opening in 2007. Walmart has a policy of not hiring union workers.
“We’re always concerned when a new Walmart comes into a community,” said UFCW Spokesperson Evan Yeates last week. “They drive down wages and benefits, which is just one small part of it.”
Restivo said that North Bergen’s Walmart had received 5,500 applications for 500 jobs, and that out of the 200 grocery positions, a little more than half came from unionized grocers.
“I think it speaks volumes about how competitive our jobs are in terms of wages and benefits,” said Restivo. “There were certainly some overly aggressive comments made by some of our critics. However, the reality is we consistently have strong support from elected officials in North Bergen and from the residents that live there.”
Yeates said that just because the workers were unionized, it does not mean they chose Walmart because of anything other than a tough job market.

Prototype for new plan

Restivo added that Walmart’s new prototype “Project Impact” is being first used in the North Bergen location. It features wider aisles, more open areas, and lower shelves which are designed to improve the shopping experience.
Michael Thomas of Jersey City came to the store on opening day to support his family and friends’ first day at work…and to purchase a flat screen television.
“This is amazing,” said Thomas. “I’ve been to a lot of different Walmarts, but they don’t look like this.”
Tricia Tirella may be reached at

© 2000, Newspaper Media Group