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“So where do you shop for food?” has been one of those haunting questions for us Trenton residents for many years. In truth, despite the good efforts of the Supreme Supermarket, for years there hasn’t been a store in town where you’d want to buy food for a dinner party. Sure…if you were having a party and you discovered that you needed to pick up an onion or a quart of milk, or maybe even a head of lettuce…no problem. But if you’re quality conscious, and had the choice, most folks I know would suffer the 16-20 mile round-trip schlep to Wegeman’s or Whole Foods.
In June of 2008, the somewhat mercurial Bogopa Food Services Corp opened it’s 12th Food Bazaar Store in Trenton’s Roebling Market. At 67,000 SF, it’s 3x the size of any other food market within Trenton City limits. And the chain has a merchandising and buying philosophy that fits extremely well in Trenton. It targets ethnic buyers: particularly Latino and West Indian buyers with a large selection of fresh produce, high quality meats and seafoods, and an extensive selection of ethnic grocery products.
Prices on meats and seafood are particularly aggressive, and much lower than its Princeton-focused competitors. Indeed, I was surprised recently to run into a friend shopping there. The friend is a woman of Italian heritage from Hamilton Square who’s an artist by avocation, and an EMT to put food on the table for her two kids. She drives the extra 20 miles round-trip because she can’t match the quality and price anywhere closer to home.
The Food Bazaar departments are huge. The seafood department is probably the largest in Mercer County, with a huge self service area for a range of whole, fresh fish, an enormous seafood counter for fillets and steaks, and tanks for live lobsters. The butcher department fills an entire wing.
The store is located in the center of Chambersurg’s Latino Revival, and doesn’t feature just any, generic “Hispanic Foods” section that you find in many local markets. As my long time Mexican-resident neighbor pointed out, if you’re from Mexico or Guatemala, El Salvador, the Dominican, or Puerto Rico, Food Bazaar will have a section of your favorite packaged goods and exotic produce. Many of these items are concentrated in the “Welcome Home” aisle, right down the center of the store. The produce section regularly stocks Latino exotica, from cassava to epazote, and other Latino grocery items are found in abundance on the regular shelves. If you’re planning to cook a Mexican feast, pull out the list of exotic ingredients and run (don’t walk) to Food Bazaar.
For the rest of us, it’s a “shopping experience” not to be missed and a window into the new Trenton.