Food Basics USA
Food Basics logo, circa 2012
The Food Basics in North Bergen, New Jersey
|Headquarters||Montvale, New Jersey, United States|
|Northeastern United States|
|Parent||The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company|
Food Basics carried major national brands, as well as A&P's portfolio of private labels, including America's Choice, A&P's flagship private label, Food Basics and Home Basics, Live Better, and Green Way. The stores also included brands usually not carried by other A&P family stores.
The Food Basics concept began in 1995, in Canada, where it was launched by A&P's Canadian subsidiary. As of 2009, the two chains are no longer connected, as the Canadian Food Basics stores are now owned and operated by Metro Inc., which purchased A&P's Canadian stores.
Bringing Food Basics to America
In 2001, A&P brought the Food Basics concept to the U.S., changing its Passaic, New Jersey, store from A&P to Food Basics. A&P was pleased with the results and within several months of opening the Passaic store, A&P decided to expand the Food Basics banner into nearby Paterson, and renovated a store it operated for decades, on Getty Avenue.
Soon after, A&P decided to concentrate its business plan on its newer and larger stores, giving them a reason to further expand the Food Basics chain.
A part of A&P's history
Some of the new Food Basics stores had been part of the A&P family for decades, including the Paterson store mentioned above with A&P's former Atlantic Regional headquarters nearby, at 90 Delaware Avenue. A&P operated a store in one building for years before constructing nearby the facility that now houses Food Basics. The Delaware Avenue headquarters building is now used for the local Board of Education.
The shopping bag policy
From its beginning, American Food Basics stores followed the same business plan as the Canadian stores; no in-store bakery or deli, some locations had no in-store butcher and customers were not given free plastic bags. In the latter case, customers were encouraged to bring their own bags, with a small discount for each bag used, or use cardboard boxes provided for free. A sturdier plastic bag than a typical supermarket shopping bag was available to customers for a small fee.
In the US, this was not a popular policy. Food Basics eventually stopped charging for shopping bags and started using the typical cheaply made plastic bags used by its competitors and its fellow A&P banner stores.
For years, nearly all of Food Basics' stores in the United States had been smaller A&Ps. More recently, A&P expanded the Food Basics concept to larger stores, including a former A&P Food Market in North Bergen, New Jersey, a former Super Fresh Super Store in Northeast Philadelphia, a Pathmark Super Center in the Eastside section of Paterson (the city's second Food Basics store) and an A&P Super Foodmart in Bridgeport, CT.
In nearly all cases, the converted Food Basics stores were able to retain elements of the A&Ps it took over. The North Bergen and Paterson Eastside stores kept the pharmacy departments that their old stores had and were the only Food Basics to offer pharmacies. Five Food Basics kept the old stores' liquor licenses, with a sixth store selling only beer.
In 2006, A&P changed Food Basics, opening a prototype store in Glassboro, New Jersey. The newer format emphasized low pricing (or best pricing), fresh produce, cut meats, and a bakery. New signage, colors, and wide aisles were among the changes in the Glassboro store.
In 2015, A&P filed for bankruptcy a second time and has sold or closed all its stores. All Food Basics stores in New York and New Jersey were purchased by other supermarket operaters. The two Philadelphia stores are currently vacant.