The opening of a new ShopRite in the Dover Mall's renovation has raised many questions on Patch and in the community about hopes for new chains to open stores in the area.
But don't hold your breath. Wishes for Whole Foods, Wegman's and Trader Joe's will not be granted, officials from the respective companies said.
Whole Foods nearest location is 36 miles away on highway 35 in Middletown Township, but the company doesn't plan on coming closer to Toms River any time soon.
"We don’t have any firm plans to open a store near the Jersey Shore at this time but we are always seeking new locations," company spokeswoman, Ivy Goldberg, wrote in an email.
Trader Joe's just opened a new location 30 miles away in Shrewsbury, but don't expect them to come to Toms River in the near future. In an email, their customer relations department wrote, "We do certainly have plans to expand in the future, however it just tends to take us a bit longer than some other larger chain stores. We do not currently have plans for a new store in the Toms River area within our current two year plan."
The nearest Wegmans is a 35-minute ride to Monmouth County's, Ocean Township.
The company says that they've had requests for a store in the area before. "We do hear occasionally from folks who live there and would like us to build a store in Tom’s River. At the moment, we have no plans to do so, but we know that it is a lovely place," the company's director of media relations, Jo Natale, wrote in an email.
It's not surprising that these chains do not have plans to open stores in Toms River, according to Matt Casey of Matthew P. Casey & Associates, who studies the local market, offering advice to retailers in the pharmacy and supermarket industries.
He wonders if the senior citizen population plays a role in the companies' decisions. "These chains operate big stores. For example, a new Wegman's is almost double the size of a ShopRite at 123,000 square feet. They just don't want to walk around a store that size, and the prices of these chains — like Trader Joe's — doesn't work well with their fixed incomes," he said.
Another reason that the chains aren't open in Toms River could be lack of open space, he said. "There are only a few strong retail corridors in town. You have Route 37, Fischer Blvd., Hooper Avenue, and Route 9. Good luck finding a 10-acre space that one of these stores would require in those areas," Casey said.