Monday, January 26, 2015

The first challenge at new H Mart Fresh is finding a place to park

A new H Mart Fresh on Broad Avenue and Fort Lee Road in Leonia occupies a building that was home to two other markets, but the store doesn't have a parking lot.

Editor's note: Today, I report on a brief visit to a new H Mart Fresh in Leonia, and compare wine prices at Trader Joe's and ShopRite.


The other day, I drove through downtown Leonia and was surprised to see the food market at Broad Avenue and Fort Lee Road had been transformed into an H Mart Fresh.

Today, on the way back home from Fort Lee, I wanted to take a look inside, but found parking a challenge.

The bad news is the store has no parking lot, but the good news is street parking is free, if you can find a space.

Still, after I found parking in a municipal lot a short block away from the store and took a foot path to Fort Lee Road through a bank lot, there wasn't a single bargain to be had in the store.

On Sunday, I visited the full-size H Mart supermarket in Little Ferry and saw many items on sale, including California-grown Kokuho Yellow Label White Rice, Shin Ramyun Noodle Soup and organic soft tofu.

None of those items were discounted at the Leonia H Mart Fresh, which opened about a month ago and isn't even listed on the company Web site:

In a creative re-use of store signs, H Mart put its logo on the Aisle 6 marker, above, but left the old market's name on the other side, below.

Second H Mart Fresh

The new H Mart Fresh in Leonia joins the H Mart Fresh near residential high-rises on 16th Street in Fort Lee, a town that also boasts a full-size H Mart supermarket.

H Mart Fresh is an abbreviated version of the bigger stores, designed more for convenience than anything else.

The Leonia H Mart Fresh is in the heart of the borough's downtown, near a few apartment buildings.

I met another shopper who explained why I wasn't able to find a parking space closer to the store.

She said teachers from the school on the next corner lost their lot when an addition was added, and they now park in many of the street spaces.

Unanswered is how borough zoning officials ever approved a food market for a building without a parking lot.

Every other H Mart I have been to, from Fort Lee to Edison, has a parking lot.

And H Mart, part of the Hanahreum Group, also is the only chain I know that doesn't have the same sales in every store, and when an item is on sale in several stores, discounts can vary.

On Sunday, shoppers found the Little Ferry H Mart's parking lot flooded, and the entrance to the store, above and below, as shabby as ever. The entire store, one of H Mart's biggest, is desperately in need of a makeover.

Trader Joe's Wines on 14 Street in Manhattan, near Union Square, offers Charles Shaw Blends from California for $2.99 a bottle, and other red wines for $4.99, $5.49 and $5.99 a bottle.

Hunting for a bathroom

This morning, a part-time job took me into Manhattan, where I parked at a meter and walked to a Starbucks Coffee for a latte.

But the store on 3rd Avenue and East 15th Street doesn't have a bathroom, and I was directed to a Trader Joe's on East 14th Street.

There, a security guard directed me to a Trader Joe's Wine Store a couple of doors down the street, where I did find a bathroom, and a store full of red-wine bargains.

Trader Joe's Two-Buck Chuck (Charles Shaw Blends) now costs $2.99 a bottle for Merlot, Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon, and I bought one of each.

I also picked up a bottle of Green Fin organic Cabernet Sauvignon for $4.99, TJ's Growers Reserve Petite Sirah for $5.49 and Grifone Toscana Rosso for $5.99.

Trader Joe's Wine Store, 138 E. 14th St., New York, N.Y.; 1-212-529-6326.

The wine department at the ShopRite is Paramus isn't the place to shop, if you are a wine lover in search of bargains. In a quick walk through the aisles last week, I couldn't find any bottles of red wine in my price range, $3 to $7.

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