Monday, October 22, 2018

Old grocery store may gain new life as a flea market mall

Pathmark becomes Route 22 Flea Market

This now-shuttered Pathmark in North Plainfield, N.J., may become a flea market mall.

When the Pathmark grocery store in North Plainfield, N.J., shut its doors in August 2009, the community reaction was grim. “”I’m disgusted; I’m saddened. I can’t believe this is really going on,” one local shopper told at the time. But just over a year later, there’s a chance for new life for the old store, in the form of a flea market mall. With a little luck, the Route 22 Flea Market will open on the site Nov. 6.

Developer Mo Hariri says the shuttered 45,000-square-foot Pathmark is ideal. “It’s a prime spot. There’s a ton of traffic, it’s close to 40 or 50 million people,” he says, “It’s a really good location, and if we can get it off the ground, I think it will be really good for the community and also for the vendors.”

North Plainfield Economic Development Committee chairperson Frank Stabile is supportive of the concept. “It would be nice if it were a supermarket,” said Stabile, citing the convenience for older shoppers who could get to the grocery store without crossing the highway. “But any new business in town is always welcome.”

Stabile has a vision for the community: “We’re trying to build the town up a bit. We’re in a good situation being along Route 22, which is a major highway through central Jersey. We’re always looking to bring different, more viable businesses into town.”

Route 22 Flea Market site

Developer Mo Hariri says the 45,000-square-foot building is ideal for his Route 22 Flea Market.

That’s a good fit for Hariri’s plan to create a flea market mall, putting empty retail space to new use in a multi-vendor format. “We’re trying to make it into a new concept,” he says. “We want to see if it is possible to make it a little higher end. We’re looking for a range of vendors. There’s a lot of potential.”

Ironically, the same down economy that doomed the Pathmark has made the flea market mall possible. Commercial real estate lease rates have dropped in response to low demand. “The trigger for the flea market was the rent,” says Hariri, “basically, getting to a point where it makes such a project feasible. Prior to this crash, it would not have been possible. It would have been cost prohibitive.”

The project does face a few hurdles, and the opening is not yet guaranteed. According to Hariri, “We are discussing details. There are a lot of dependencies that we need to work out before we can finalize the project.” Those include the layout of spaces and the number of vendors. Hariri says he is using advertising to attract more vendors.

Although the flea market still hangs in the balance, Stabile may be able to put a thumb on the scales. Tonight he intends to bring up the project at a meeting of the Economic Development Council, of which he is the chairperson. “I will mention it just to let everyone know what’s going on,” he says.

For more information, contact Mo Hariri at (908) 331-2030 or e-mail

Photo credits, with thanks: and

Dec. 21 Update: Developer Mo Hariri reports that he was unable to negotiate a lease agreement with the property owner. “They weren’t interested in pursuing this. So we’re dropping it for now, and we’re going to try next year,” he says.


2 Responses to “Old grocery store may gain new life as a flea market mall”
  1. like yesterday says:

    and i remember when this was the “farm” in “bardy farms”!
    the problem nplainfield has is that the traffic on 22 is already a must-detour. hard sell unless it’s weekends only and a very special flea market indeed. watchung mall pretty much sucked up all excess traffic capacity 22 has, and then some.

  2. SPM says:

    The Kmart is about to close too. That strip mall has lost Washington Mutual Bank, Pathmark and Kmart all within 2 years. Don’t know how true it is but I have heard that the Dollar Store will eventually leave.

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