Almost 60 years ago, Dorothy and Louis Druian opened their first supermarket in Bloomfield’s Brookdale section with the hope of building a business that not only served the community, but was also a trusted friend.
During the post-World War II era in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, Brookdale Markets was able to establish itself not only as a vital community business that like the Druian family never turned its back and never left.
Today the family market is an independently owned state-of-the-art supermarket and even though the site and name has changed, its commitment to Bloomfield has not.
Neil Greenstein manages the day-to-day operations of the Brookdale ShopRite. A part of the Wakefern Corp. since 1952, the store is co-operatively run like many other ShopRite supermarkets, but for Greenstein little has changed.
The market he grew up with still includes oversight by Dorothy’s daughter Charlotte Greenstein and son-in-law Mark Greenstein.
“I went to college and went into accounting,” Neil Greenstein said. “Then about nine years ago I came back home and got into the family business. It’s in my blood and a part of my entire life.”
The store celebrated the 12 anniversary of its third incarnation from June 5 to June 11.
“A lot of people don’t realize that the Brookdale ShopRite is individually owned,” said Greenstein. “Our tagline is that we’re committed to the community. This is your neighborhood, this is your ShopRite.”
Store Manager Jerry Manley said the opening of the weeklong celebration was replete with a live band, colorful streamers, about 20 roaming food demonstrators and representatives from the Bloomfield police and fire departments. Shoppers received various giveaway’s and even a visit from the Bimbo Bread bear on that opening Sunday.
He said during the remainder of the week, store specials highlighted the celebration and 12 lucky customers won $100 gift certificates, provided through a random drawing.
“It was a carnival like atmosphere,” said Manley of the Sunday opening. “But during the rest of the week there were all kinds of reduced prices and in-store specials that were handed out by a greeter – it was great!”
Manley said all week he felt like he was celebrating a wedding anniversary, as shopper after shopper stopped by to personally wish him “happy anniversary.”
Although some may have considered the celebration to be over the top in nature, management of the longtime supermarket is modest when it comes to personal promotion. Manley, who has been the manager all 12 years, said there was no focus on promotion outside of the area; no photos, no elaborate videotapes of the fest.
“Pictures?” he exclaimed, “I wouldn’t even think of doing anything like that for something like this kind of event.
“No, this is about our community and celebrating them,” Manley said. “We would maybe do it differently if we were raising funds for the hungry of something.”
Manley said the supermarket has always been a hub of the Brookdale section of Bloomfield. He said the supermarket routinely sponsors local youth sports teams, scouting and schools. He said the store also is a big supporter of local police and fire departments in Bloomfield.
“We’re like your hometown store,” Manley said. “The customers are like part of our family.”
Thirteen years after the Druian’s joined with food giant Wakefern and ShopRite in 1952, they moved their location to what is now the south parking area of the current supermarket.
The 1962 ShopRite, which Manley said was much more confined, but state of the art for its time, stood until 1999, when the store was expanded and moved to it’s current location at 1409 Broad St.
“This current supermarket is a contemporary store with all of the bells and whistles,” he said.
Manley, who also managed the store at its previous location for a year, said the current manifestation of the store has moved into the 21st century, while embracing its roots as the neighborhood market. He said great service is complemented by fresh dairy products and seafood and a more wide-open space.
He said shoppers now can order groceries online over the internet, interact with a personal shopper and then have their items delivered to their door at the stroke of a keypad. Manley said the online service is very popular with children who want to shop for their parents, who do not get around as well as they used to in the past.
“If there is an item you want and we are out of it, the personal shopper can make the adjustment for you and find a similar item,” Manley said. “It’s a booming business.”
We’re a supermarket with a heart,” said Greenstein. “We’ve become bigger, but we haven’t forgotten where we came from.”