It started as a rumor about 6 months ago.  The Super Fresh store where we’ve been shopping for the 7 years we’ve lived here was changing names.  Well… that rumor is finally a reality as Super Fresh in Berwyn has completed its transformation to a Path Mark.

Not being a local boy, I didn’t know that Super Fresh and Pathmark were all part of A&P.  I’ve never shopped at an A&P, but the name is certainly famous.  Where are A&P’s anyway?!?    Do they even exist anymore?!?  But I digress…

The corporate office spent some big bucks on a complete transfomation of the store, from new lighting to new freezer and refrigerated cases, a completely new layout, new paint, new signs, new, new, new.  And, in theory, lower prices.

I have to admit I like the new look.  The store is brighter and it has a more visually appealing layout.  There’s a couple of things I probably would have done differently – like the shelves in the corner of the produce section where the flowers used to be.  I doubt they will ever have anything in that corner that will entice me over there… But… overall, the place looks pretty good.  I do have to question the decision to spend so much money rebranding the store, though.  Do they really think they’re going to be able to recoup it all?!?

I found the store almost by accident when we moved back here in early 2001.  Driving around and getting lost everywhere I went, I tended to stay close to Lancaster Avenue.  My first shopping was at the Acme in Strafford.  What a dump.  The store was dank and dirty, the staff rude.  It sucked.  Down the road was Fresh Fields.  The store with attitude.  I don’t know who was worse – the employees or the customers.  I made a bee-line for the door and didn’t go back until they changed their name to Whole Foods.  The first store in the area I found that I liked was Geunardi’s in St David’s.  And in no time, Safeway bought them and they went to hell.

I hadn’t really spent any time up around the shopping centers north of us.  I didn’t know the roads up that way, there was a lot of construction going on… But one day I was out exploring and I saw Super Fresh.  I went in and immediately liked the place.  It seemed new, the employees were reasonably friendly, the prices seemed reasonable…  I started shopping there regularly.

Over the years the Acme in Strafford has been remodelled (it still sucks) Geunardi’s has tried to woo back its lost customers from the botched Safeway takeover (it hasn’t worked for me…) and a new Wegman’s has opened not that far away (too far for weekly shopping, though.)

And Super Fresh has kept pace, as well.  It’s had it’s new floors and paint, new uniforms for the staff… But evidently, it hasn’t been enough to bring in the shoppers.  I think it has more to do with location than anything else… The whole shopping area is in trouble.  Linen’s & Things at one end is closing down, Oskar Huber – a huge furniture anchor store is closing down.  Circuit City – another anchor – has just filed for bancruptcy and will surely be closing soon…  It’s just a lousy location.

Which really is too bad.  I like the store, and I really like the employees there.  I like walking in and having people say HI to me.  I like being able to chat with the folks.  And I like their products.

The writing is probably on the wall for them, too.  I imagine they will have to see a significant increase in their numbers or they will be closing down, too.

Here’s hoping they stick around.