I went to two supermarkets Friday, my first day out after being snowed in earlier in the week. I had hoped to get a lot of dry food for my cats, so that next time I'm stuck in the house I don't run out. I couldn't count on just my nearest Pathmark having enuf of the big bags. Besides, meat prices at ShopRite are almost always starkly better than Pathmark's. ShopRite also has its own brand of cat food, in large cans. Well, the ShopRite in Kearny does. For some reason, the East Orange ShopRite does not stock it.
ShopRite is a cooperative of owners of individual stores:
From a small, struggling cooperative with seven Members – all owners of their own grocery stores – ShopRite has grown into the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States and the largest employer in New Jersey. The cooperative is comp[o]sed of 43 members who individually own and operate supermarkets under the ShopRite banner. Today, more than 50,000 people are employed by Wakefern Food Corporation, the merchandising and distribution arm of the company, and the 190 ShopRite stores in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware. ***
Wakefern is headquartered in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and operates 2.5 million square feet of warehousing. Our transportation fleet, one of the largest private fleets on the east coast, consists of 400 tractors and 2000 trailers, and traveled more 23 million miles in 1997. ***
Another focus is to educate and train special needs [mentally disabled] students for meaningful careers in the supermarket industry. This innovative and groundbreaking program, called Supermarket Careers, was created by ShopRite in 1989, and is now in place in 42 schools in our five state area. The program has received local, state and national awards, including the Secretary of Education’s Award, the highest honor available to vocational programs.
ShopRite is also a major sponsor of the New Jersey and Connecticut Special Olympics Games, providing logistical, volunteer and food support for these annual events that attract more than 1,800 athletes and 20,000 attendees.
Today's fotos tie together today's two themes, supermarkets and disability/health. The Bergen Street Pathmark is directly opposite the Newark Campus of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (better known locally as UMDNJ, tho it took me a while to learn to say that, and I had to stop to think what it stood for to know what order to put the letters in). The Pathmark is actually part of a small shopping center that also includes a Subway sandwich shop, Dunkin' Donuts, and offices for social services offered thru the New Community Corporation, which built the shopping center. This view out the entrance to the Pathmark parking lot is of the ambulance entrance and the second parking structure added when a number of new buildings, including a Cancer Center, produced more demand for parking than could be met by the theretofore lone garage, on 12th Avenue.
One effect of ShopRite's dispersed ownership is that there can be wide variation from store to store. The Kearny store has a wider selection of brands and sizes of pet food than either the East Orange or Millburn store. So I struck out in the cat food department in E.O. Meat prices were great, tho. In fact, while I was looking at a special on fruit juices, I had to move my cart a short distance away to make room for an employee who was running a mechanized pallet-mover, and a guy from Belleville asked if that was my cart (it might have been a store cart), because he liked what he saw in it: "Those are my [kind of] prices." That is to say, we're both careful shoppers. We spoke briefly. He's from Belleville (one of the 5.36% of Belleville that is black) — and asked if I knew where that was. I said yes, I've been there — and we agreed that Pathmark's prices on meat are usually ridiculous as against ShopRite's. We both wondered how Pathmark can get away with charging so much more. One obvious reason is that there is no ShopRite in Newark. There should be.
ShopRite also has an excellent house-brand cola (that is, I like the taste; and price: 3L bottle for 99¢). I don't like Pathmark's house-brand cola at all. They used to have a great birch beer, but discontinued it. I have no idea why.
UMDNJ provides more than the typical emergency room. Ours is "the sole Level I Trauma Center for the densely populated region of northern New Jersey."
Just because a store is better on price on some items doesn't mean it's better on everything. This is a mistake a lot of people make with, for instance, Wal-mart. The E.O. Pathmark had no 22oz. cans of dog food, and no specials on any cat or dog food I would buy. And a gallon of whole milk was $4.49, 50¢ more than Pathmark. As the song advises, "You'd better shop around." While waiting on the checkout line at the ShopRite, I heard an announcement that store hours have been extended to 11pm. The sign on the door had shown 10pm, and the website says 9! I guess business is booming. Still, I couldn't get everything at the E.O. ShopRite (alongside the Brick Church Station), so had to go to the Bergen Street Pathmark too.
Pathmark didn't have any of the big bags of dry cat food either! And both stores are very bad about showing price labels for all items, aligned properly with the stock. I don't know what's wrong with these stores. It used to be that every single item had to be individually price-stamped, so all you had to do to find a price was look on the item. Now, all that a store with price scanners at the register has to do is put one label for dozens of individual items, and they can't do even that right?
Clara Maass, a nurse after whom the medical center in Belleville is named, is buried in Fairmount Cemetery, by West Side High. Here, Julius Spohn of the Old Newark Group, poses alongside the commemorative plaque describing her travail. Jule is by profession a nurse, and worked for years for the military or V.A. or some such, so wanted to be seen by perhaps New Jersey's most famous nurse, "the first nurse honored on a United States postage stamp, as well as the first nurse for whom an American Hospital was named". The first Clara Maass Hospital was in Newark. The new Clara Maass, part of the Saint Barnabas medical empire, has a school of nursing. So does UMDNJ Newark, up Bergen Street from the Pathmark.
But Pathmark did have a special on big cans of dog food that I buy. My cats can eat dog food (much less expensive than cat food) or dry food only. Given that choice, they will eat dog food. Pathmark also had a great special on Angus beef, London broil, even a tad better than ShopRite's beef price. But that's unusual.
I have noticed an incremental increase in nonblack faces in the Bergen Street Pathmark over the past few months. I used to be the only pinko (not a political reference; exactly) most of the time. As I walked in from my car last nite, however, I saw two handicapped white people, one male, limping slitely but without a cane, the other female and limping badly even with the use of a cane. I was struck by how many people in this country are limping nowadays. I guess it's better that we're alive to limp. But plainly either the state of medicine is not what we'd thought, or the availability of quality healthcare is not what we'd like. (There's the political pinko!) Have you noticed all the commercials on TV nowadays for mechanized wheelchairs?! There's the Scooter Store, the Hoveround, and others, all guaranteeing that they can give disabled people the mobility they need, even to get around in tight places — and that if you are approved, they will get you one even if Medicare turns you down. How big a business is this?
Gaetano found an item about a Newark woman winning the title "Ms. Wheelchair New Jersey 2008" today. NJ is one of 25 states and DC that hold yearly pageants under the aegis of the Ms. Wheelchair America association.
Titleholders are expected to serve as advocates for the causes of disabled people and to promote awareness about the hardships many disabled people face.Certainly some stores have done good work in offering mechanized shopping carts, and I see people self-sufficiently shopping from their own scooters in the Pathmark at all hours. But I dread the thought of being confined to such a chair myself. I think most of us who have mobility problems fear that if ever we sit in one of those, even 'temporarily', as after an operation, we will never get up again. So I'll skip the Scooter Store and park my car far from the front door, then push my own shopping cart around this region's great big supermarkets plus a couple of hundred feet back to the car to keep myself walking.
[Cynthia DeSouza said] "I'm hoping to really make more places accessible to the disabled so that they can live the fuller lives they'd like to," *** DeSouza, who suffers from a motor neuron disease, owns a technology and development firm. ***
"I hope to be somebody who exemplifies the ability for disabled people to still be active and engaged in the world around them[.]"
P.S. Newark's own Queen Latifah should be walking more easily in a few months. She just replaced Kirstie Alley as celebrity spokeswoman for Jenny Craig, duties she will share with Valerie Bertinelli. The Jenny Craig website now features the new Queen Latifah commercial first in its visuals. I find it commendable that a 'big-boned' woman recognizes aloud that tho you might be in good health with some extra weight, fat is really not good. Mo'Nique, by contrast, is a 'hugely' irresponsible apologist for morbid obesity.
 "The Wakefern name, an acronym, was developed from the w
from Weiss, the a
from Aidekman, the k
from Kesselman, and fern
from Dave Fern. The extra e
[Wak(e)fern] was added to make the name both agreeable and pronounceable." (From a long online article
that I did not fully read, about the origins of ShopRite at Answers.com.)
 Employing the mentally handicapped can be very good business as regards hard workers who are very loyal. One reason
ShopRite runs such programs is to fite high turnover of employees, which is very costly. I saw a report on ABC World News February 11th
about a Walgreens distribution center in South Carolina where 40% of staff have some kind of disability, including many who are retarded. (And no, that is not offensive but descriptive. Now, "retards" might be offensive. But I would never say that of people who are actually retarded.) Altho many people would like to see programs like ShopRite's and Walgreens' as perfect examples of how you can do well by doing good, a more jaundiced view is that the disabled will work cheaper than normal people. The ABC report claimed that that was not the case with the Walgreens program, and that disabled and nondisabled workers get the same pay, but that might merely mean that once significant numbers of disabled people were hired and proved loyal, wages stopped rising for everyone, so that what was once equal pay at good rates becomes over time equal pay at bad rates.