It wasn’t even 7 a.m., and the line of people on the sidewalk snaked all the way past the Dollar Tree store and Sun Cleaners at the Lawrence Shopping Center.
No, it was not Black Friday. It was Wednesday morning, June 9 – and the people in line were waiting for the grand opening of the Lidl grocery store at 8 a.m. It was an event that was almost two years in the making (or waiting).
So just a few minutes before 8 a.m., Mayor Jim Kownacki, Lawrence Township Councilman Christopher Bobbitt and store manager Jared Wolansky stood shoulder to shoulder to prepare to snip the red ribbon.
“We want to welcome Lidl to Lawrence Township. It has been a long time coming,” Kownacki said.
He called on Bobbitt – who had been involved from the very beginning of the talks to bring Lidl to Lawrence two years ago – to offer some remarks.
Bobbitt obliged and said that “it’s a wonderful day to have Lidl here.”
“There has been a void in our community. It’s great to have you here,” Bobbitt said, acknowledging that Lawrence residents had been starving for a grocery store since the ACME supermarket closed its doors in 2018.
Bobbitt said he had been in talks with Municipal Manager Kevin Nerwinski two years ago about the filling the hole left by ACME’s departure from the Lawrence Shopping Center. Lidl, which is a German-based grocery store chain, occupies the former ACME space.
Bobbitt said he discovered the Lidl grocery store chain when he took his daughter to play in a field hockey tournament in Holmdel. There is a Lidl store in nearby Hazlet.
Turning to Lidl representatives who were on hand for the grand opening, Bobbitt thanked them for being part of the revitalization of the Lawrence Shopping Center. The shopping center is located at 2495 Brunswick Pike, in the southern part of the township.
Then, with a snip of the scissors by Kownacki, Bobbitt and Wolansky, the Lidl grocery store was officially opened and the line of shoppers began to enter the 25,000-square-foot store.
Shoppers who were waiting in line said they were excited to have a grocery store in their backyard, eliminating trips to grocery stores at the Mercer Mall and the Nassau Park Pavilion.
“I’m excited,” said Mini Thomas. “I live 10 minutes from here. I can walk here. That’s what I am excited about.”
Bonnie Collins, who said she shops for groceries for her own family and for extended family members, agreed that it was exciting to “finally” have a grocery store at the Lawrence Shopping Center.
Lidl is occupying the former ACME supermarket space, which had been empty since August 2018 when the store’s lease expired. ACME Markets decided not to renew the lease because the store had not met the company’s expectations.
Lidl signed a lease for the space in 2019, and construction and renovations began in 2020.
This is Lidl’s 18th store in New Jersey. It operates more than 145 stores across nine East Coast states – from New York to South Carolina, according to its website at www.lidl.com
Lidl, which is based in Germany, takes a “no-frills” approach to shopping, according to its website. The stores are efficiently laid out and 80% of the products are branded under the chain’s own label.
Since its beginnings in 1973, Lidl has expanded and now operates more than 11,200 stores in 32 countries. It established its U.S. headquarters in Arlington County, Virginia, in June 2015.