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After several weeks of renovations and a busy few days moving merchandise and equipment, Newark Natural Foods Co-op is finally open for business in the Newark Shopping Center.
The organic grocery store celebrated its grand opening on Monday after making its third move in the last 40 years. The Co-op was previously located at 280 E. Main St. in Market East Plaza but now fills a new, 10,800 square feet space in the renovated shopping center at 230 E. Main St.
General Manager Karen Taylor said the new store is much bigger, which allows the Co-op to increase its food selection by 20 percent.
Yvonne Ou, a math professor at the University of Delaware, was browsing the produce section Tuesday and said she finds the new store much less cramped. She had only been shopping for a few minutes but already noticed a better variety of food and larger quantities for sale.
“This space just makes you happy,” she said.
Ou likes to feed her son organic foods when she can and is used to shopping at Whole Foods, but the closest location is in Glen Mills, Pa., which makes it hard to pick up groceries on her way home from work.
“I’m really glad this is here,” she said.
She said she used to come to the Newark Shopping Center to eat at The Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant, but stopped when the restaurant closed earlier this year.
“Now it’s another reason for me to come, otherwise I wouldn’t come,” Ou said.
Nikki Manerchia, of Bear, said she has been shopping at the Co-op for years.
“It’s very hard to find organic, even in the larger grocery stores,” she said.
She said she likes the layout of the new store better because it’s easier to maneuver, and the produce section seems larger and more open. Plus, she said, the parking lot out front is a major upgrade.
“The location is awesome,” Manerchia said. “Newark Shopping Center is easier to pull into than behind that antique shop where the old store used to be.”
In addition to the grocery store, the first floor also boasts a cafe, which Taylor said is a new endeavor for the Co-op.
She said Cafe 67 is a play on 1967, the year the Co-op started, although it wasn’t incorporated until 1975. In addition to serving coffee, juice, made-to-order food and pre-made items, the cafe will feature a 20-foot salad bar, a hot foods bar, a 24-foot deli case and indoor and outdoor seating.
The cafe wasn’t quite ready for customers to enjoy on opening day, but store employees said it should be up and running soon.
Beneath the main floor is an additional 6,000 square feet of space for administrative purposes and community use. At the Market East Plaza store, Taylor said, the community space was much smaller but was often rented out for yoga, moms clubs, music lessons and art classes. She said the larger square footage allows for more diverse uses and community activities.
Taylor said she is excited for the increased visibility, parking and proximity to Main Street that the shopping center has to offer. She expects it will boost membership and make the store more popular than when it was tucked away in Market East Plaza, and the 220 residential units slated for behind the shopping center “can’t hurt.”
“I think we’ve been the best-kept secret in Newark for far too long,” Taylor said.
She said the shopping center was lacking a grocery store before the Co-op moved in and she is happy it is positioned next to Dollar Deals, creating what she called a “shopping destination.”
“I really just think this will bring the shopping center back to life,” Taylor said.
Sharan Moran has been working at Newark Natural Foods for nearly a year and was busy opening boxes and stocking shelves on Tuesday. She said it has been a hectic couple of days trying to get everything ready.
“It’s a lot of work to move a store and open one,” she said.
Still, all the hard work was worth it. She said customers who have stopped by the store since it opened Monday have been happy with the new space.
“They love it,” Moran said. “They say it’s cool.”
Written By Karie Simmons; Published by the Newark Post< Return to Noteworthy