The Hazlet Foodtown supermarket on Route 35 will close for business on Feb. 25, said Food Circus President Louis Scaduto.
The supermarket, one of 10 Foodtown stores in Monmouth and Ocean counties operated by the Azzolina and Scaduto families, opened in 2009. Seventy-five employees are employed there. Those that cannot be employed in other stores will be laid off, he said.
Intense competition and the downturn in the economy are blamed for the failure of the store to thrive. "There's clearly a saturation of retailers in that area," said Scaduto. "Unfortunately it did not work out." Foodtown is located on Route 35 and Hazlet Avenue, next to Staples. There are several grocery stores within a mile or so, including Pathmark, Aldi, Costco and Stop & Shop.
In April, Holmdel's Top Tomato closed its doors in the Holmdel Commons on Route 35, citing the same reasons. (See story on Holmdel Patch.)
Although the store was not as large as its competitors', shoppers appreciated the conveniences, such as a dairy case at the entrance, the short distance from the parking lot to front door, and cashiers who came out from behind their registers to signal they were open and available.
Scaduto said that any stock left over on the last day of business, excluding perishables, will be transferred to other Foodtown locations.
On Thursday evening, Marilyn Ettinger of Matawan was bringing her groceries to her car. She was stunned to hear the store was closing. Foodtown is her favorite supermarket, she said. "It's manageable. I can always find what I want. It's small and convenient." She appreciated the parking situation. "It's never difficult getting a spot."
Robert Meehan of Hazlet was picking up bread, cold cuts and cigarettes. The news the store was closing did not surprise him, he said. "I don't see many people in there, he said. "I don't even see why they opened it up, we got everything all around here -- Pathmark, Shoprite, Stop & Shop. "When you got to compete with stores like Costco, it doesn't work," he said.