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Opposition Growing Against Ocean State Job Lot

Residents and selectmen speak out about proposal at former Stop & Shop.

The prospects of discount retailer Ocean State Job Lot moving into the on Main Street is not sitting well with a number of residents.

One resident created a Facebook page called “North Reading DOES NOT want Ocean State Job Lot in Our Community” on Saturday night. As of this morning, 126 people “like” the page.

Residents have been voicing their opposition on that Facebook page as well as North Reading Patch’s Facebook and website.

On Saturday night, North Reading Patch conducted an informal Facebook poll that asked readers if they support or oppose an Ocean State Job Lot at that location.

As of this morning, opponents outdistanced supporters about four-to-one and readers are continuing the debate there. The major argument against Ocean State Job Lot is that opponents don't want another discount store in town with two other discount stores ( and ) across the street. 

Opponents said they are going to send letters to Stop & Shop opposing an Ocean State Job Lot lease and some have even called for a boycott of Stop & Shop, which at the end of last year.

North Reading resident Lindsay Felix said she’s disappointed that Stop & Shop plans to lease the property to Ocean State Job Lot.

“This was an opportunity for Stop & Shop to show their commitment and care about our community and instead is putting in another box store that North Reading truly just doesn't need. With other retailers in town offering discounted merchandise, why not lease to someone that brings something new to our area?” said Felix.

North Reading resident Heather Wright said North Reading is already known as the “WalMart town” by those outside the community.

“My thought is an Ocean State Job Lot site here will certainly further support this concept of a trashy town, thereby lowering all property value,” she said.

Wright is concerned about the town’s community planning and pointed to Reading’s Main Street as a place that “provides wide sidewalks, a commuter rail, coffee shops, restaurants, butchers, pharmacies and other useful business.

“Driving from Reading and past the Welcome to North Reading signs is dreadful as you see only liquor stores, fast food, WalMart and now Ocean State Job Lot. We should better evaluate our future. I would like to see more support for our small local hardware stores, farm stores, country store and small businesses as I believe they show the good side of what North Reading has to offer,” said Wright.

Selectmen also voiced concern on Monday. Selectman Michael Prisco said he has received many phone calls and emails since a North Reading Transcript story last week quoted him as saying Ocean State Job Lot was coming to town. He added he has asked Ocean State Job Lot and Stop & Shop to come before the board and discuss their plans. At that time, residents can voice their concerns, he said.

“I really hope the community does show up,” said Prisco.

Selectman Stephen O’Leary also doesn’t support the idea. He said the town can’t stop the proposal because it conforms to the site’s zoning, but can make work to reduce impacts, such as limiting access/egress from Routes 62 and 28.

“It would not have been our first choice or our 21st choice for that particular parcel,” said O’Leary.

Though North Reading John Intorcio is not particularly in favor of Ocean State Job Lot, he doesn't think people should restrict Stop & Shop from doing business because some residents want a more upscale store.

He has two concerns about the movement to stop Ocean State Job Lot.

"First, you have the right to sell your home to anyone you please. You wouldn’t want the town to tell you that you can’t sell your home to someone who is gay, or black, or Muslim, or from Rhode Island. Similarly, Stop & Shop has the right to sell or lease their property to any business they see fit – as long as it’s consistent with zoning and the laws of the town. We don't get to tell them who they can or can't do business with.

"Second, I think it’d be great to have another retailer in town. It would give me more chances to shop locally and support the North Reading economy. Right now, the Stop & Shop site is a vacant blight on our town. Let’s bring in some business, jobs, and taxes, and we'll reap collateral profits for the restaurants and gas stations and other existing town businesses," he said. 

Last year, the city of Somerville rejected  an Ocean State Job Lot from going into a former Star Market.

Tracy DeGregorio April 29, 2011 at 03:47 PM
Sorry Cheryl. The above post wasn't specifically directed at you. I hit reply instead of a new post.
Tracy DeGregorio April 29, 2011 at 03:51 PM
Here's a question--would people rather see more locally owned businesses in town, or more higher-end retail chains?
Mel Webster April 29, 2011 at 04:06 PM
Tracy - Market Basket is not a large chain, but it does have many stores in Mass. and New Hampshire. It is interesting that Market Basket is able to keep its prices much lower than those at Stop & Shop. As for how business is going at the new Stop & Shop location, I hear not well. Hopefully the Stop & Shop management gets the message, but I doubt it. As for your question about locally owned or national chain retailers, I really don't care. I just want to see quality businesses in town.
John Intorcio April 29, 2011 at 04:10 PM
It comes down to who is willing to invest in opening a business in North Reading. Perhaps some of those that are so passionate about having an improved look and quaint little stores in North Reading would be willing to put up the money to start some of those businesses?? Personally, although I don't shop there because I find it a bit out of the way and higher priced, I am thankful that Stop &Shop made the investment to clean up that plaza where they are now. If their motives included keeping a monopoly on the grocery trade in North Reading, then good for them! Sounds like smart business to me!
Fred Chalmers April 29, 2011 at 04:12 PM
OSJL wouldn't make my top 50 list of things I'd like to see moving into the old S&S, but having said that, I do shop occasionally at the one in Danvers. How many of those in opposition can say the same? Yes, the store is cluttered, but hardly dirty. Yes, they sell lots of junk, but also some good bargains on name brand supplies, foodstuffs, etc. And with a MB and bookstore in the same plaza, I can kill 3 birds in one trip. To those who don't like how their exteriors look, I'm sure that's what they looked like when they first moved in. Do you really think they will trash the (relatively) attractive S&S storefront? To those who think Rt 28 needs a facelift, I agree, but look at the progress over the past few years. Walgreens, NE Beverage, Great American Tavern, the upcoming Heavenly Donuts, both Dunkin Donuts, Cota's and the new 'Shoe are all huge improvements over what was there before. Unless you throw out the other older businesses, how else would you accomplish a wider facelift? Only as old ones close and get replaced with new ones, or owners have the foresight like Pat Lee, will further facelifts be accomplished. Let's face it: it feels like S&S screwed our town, but they did nothing illegal. They were sleazy but within their rights, and from their perspective executed a smart business move. Boycott them all you want, which I will (I'm a MB guy, anyhow), but by the time they feel any financial pain over the whole situation, OSJL will already be here.
Tracy DeGregorio April 29, 2011 at 04:12 PM
It's not that MB is able to keep prices lower, it's that it chooses to. That's it's business model, that of a discount food chain; much like OSJL (also a regional chain) is a discount retailer. S&S has a different business model with a different price/volume ratio. How would you define a quality business?
Mel Webster April 29, 2011 at 05:47 PM
I define a quality business as one that does not sell a lot of junk -- which OSJL does. To me, a quality business is one that has consistent inventory and not a changing selection of products every other day or week or month. There are some things I admire about OSJL to be honest -- for example, I understand they pay 100 percent of their employees' health care premiums, which is unusual today, and they also have a number of charities to which they contribute. Again, however, it is not the kind of store that I think helps North Reading to improve its main business district or the town's image. As for Stop & Shop's business model, I think that is what happens when you are part of a huge company that is headquarterd in the UK.
Mel Webster April 29, 2011 at 05:51 PM
Good points, Fred. I think the Stop & Shop decision will turn out to be a bad business decision, especially based on information I have heard in terms of slumping sales at the new location. And, we should praise local businessmen like Pat Lee, who have put their money into making Route 28 more attractive. The new Heavenly Donuts is another example. I know people don't necessarily think another donut shop is what the town needs, but they put a lot of thought into the location and the new building is attractive.
Fred Chalmers April 29, 2011 at 06:21 PM
Beyong their strategy of boxing out another supermarket, I think S&S is more interested in poaching Andover residents than retaining those in NR. With their new location, they're 4 miles from my house, while MB in Middleton is 5 miles and in Reading, 6 miles. Coupled with their better pricing, my business goes to MB. I think their new location will gradually doom S&S. The ones I feel bad for are the S&S employees, as well as the other merchants in the plaza. They're the ones who will pay the greater price when things go south for S&S.
Tracy DeGregorio April 29, 2011 at 06:58 PM
Well, we're going to just have to agree to disagree. At least the commonality is that both of our opinions are vested in what we each think is best for the town. It just happens to be different! Quick point--Ahold is in the Netherlands. And, oddly enough I work for a huge company HQ'd in the UK. I can assure you that our business models are not a passive byproduct of that fact!
Tracy DeGregorio April 29, 2011 at 07:03 PM
I too think SS will regret the move. And I agree that the ones that will pay are our residents that work there, and the other local businesses in that plaza that badly needed an anchor store. That is why, despite the fact that I do not particularly care for the fact that OSJL is coming here, I'm not in favor of a SS boycott. It is cutting off our nose to spite our face. Our residents and our local businesses will be the ones to suffer from those actions.
Jessie M. April 29, 2011 at 08:38 PM
I would be hard pressed to believe that any consumers who are going to shop at Ocean State Job Lots will be dropping a dime at any businesses elsewhere
Jessie M. April 29, 2011 at 08:40 PM
I was just in Stoneham and heard that Whole Foods and Michael's Crafts Store are looking to occupy the old Shaws residency on Route 28 right on the Reading line. Don't tell me we these same stores would not be interested in North Reading....
Bob Donegan April 29, 2011 at 09:17 PM
Your sweeping generalization about the types of people who might shop there are narrow-minded and not appreciated. I suggest you use that beautiful mind and perhaps contact Whole Foods and Michaels and ask if they were interested in the site. Let us know what you find out...
Les Masterson (Editor) April 29, 2011 at 09:48 PM
One thing to remember is that there are often rumors like "I hear X is looking to move here" that are not true. For instance, in Stoneham, there have been reports of Christmas Tree Shop there and it was nothing but a rumor. The same goes for the Christmas Tree Shop coming to North Reading. Also, please use your name when posting on Patch. Don't use an alias. Thank you.
Jessie M. April 29, 2011 at 09:50 PM
Please do not insult my username... I am just commenting after reading so many posts about the high prices at Stop and Shop compared to Market Basket. If Market Basket was here, I am certain many of these posters would not be dropping a dime at Stop and Shop. So, if Ocean State Job Lots comes here, it is not likely shoppers will be dropping a dime at CVS, Walgreens, Ryer's Store, Tedeschi Food Mart, etc.
Joe Veno April 30, 2011 at 12:13 AM
Bob, Stop & Shop owns the property where Market Basket was in Andover and that is why they can not go there it is not because Andover would not let them in so that is not a fair statment. You can think that if you like but that may not be true. Also Bob I will keep touting my opinion because I am no the type of person who changes in mid stream because of the way things are flowwing. Dose that hurt me? I don't think so. If it dose I do not care because the people who get mad at me for not changing do not want to hear the truth they only want to here what they want to hear.
Bill Wilkinson April 30, 2011 at 01:39 AM
Not for nothing, but I find it interesting that those of you suggesting that we should all patronize local businesses are patronizing patch.com to do your complaining. Not sure if you're all aware but patch.com is owned by AOL. Businesses don't get much less local than AOL...
Jeff Witts April 30, 2011 at 12:57 PM
I am not in favor of the OSJL coming to North Reading, but I think there is not much that can be done about it unless you change the zoning rules for that location (like Somerville did). If you need someone to blame, then blame our past leaders (15-20 years ago?) that decided to zone the entire stretch of Rte 28 as highway business and town meeting approved it as well. By zoning this as highway business, it has led to the building of strip malls and big box stores like rte 1. Maybe it is time to start to change the zoning of rte 28 to attract more village type stores/businesses and keep out any future big box stores. Like Mike Prisco stated, we need candidates for CPC and ZBA that have this vision. The BOS cannot do this alone. The BOS appoints people to the ZBA, so let's make sure they have candidates that share the re-zoning of rte 28.
dgo May 03, 2011 at 05:17 PM
After we get done banning all the undesirable stores we can build parks, theatres, and organic grocery stores. We'll have the veritable land of milk and honey with streets paved of gold...Common sense: business=tax revenue and supported business = stay in business. Support the ones you like and avoid the others. Economics takes care of the rest. How many of you bemoaning S&S actually shopped at MB or Atlantic before that. Either way people and businesses have a right to try whatever they want within the municipal codes. Of course if one of you is a multimillionaire and is interested in buying this property from S&S then you can convert it to a more desirable business. I love bookstores and movie theatres. Good luck with that in the age of ebooks and on demand, 1000 station FIOS HD on 65 inch screens.
Joe Veno May 03, 2011 at 08:02 PM
dgo, you hit the nail right on the head. Let all these do gooders buy it and put what ever they want in there.
Carole McGillicuddy May 04, 2011 at 03:35 PM
I bought a very nice entryway rug at Ocean State in Danvers and another friend of mine bought some great outdoor lanterns at one in Providence. Both of these items were actually a much better quality than the ones carried by Walmart. However, I can't tell you how grateful I have been that Walmart is just downtown, on those evenings when one of my kids told me at dinner that they needed poster board, a white tee-shirt, markers, a patriots jersey or some other thing, first thing the next day. I was never a big fan of Stop & Shop because they are expensive and I drove right by Market Basket in Middleton on my way home from work. Again, however, I did shop at S & S on occasion for its convenience as well. I do know the woman who had been the manager there on a personal level - we had relatives who dated each other- and she told me that they were moving because they were not moving enough merchandise to justify the square footage and that the corporate HQ had sent her there to oversee the move. I find that the traffic patterns in the new location makes it less convenient. I would rather drive to Reading than to that Plaza. I went to the Hallmark Store on a Saturday and had to run the gauntlet of shoppers to get out. Another Saturday I went to Sears Hardware and it was equally frustrating. But, I don't believe in picking and choosing what businesses or people can move into our town for other than safety reasons..
Joe Veno May 04, 2011 at 10:45 PM
I agree Carole but it seems some people feel they are to good to have an OSJL in town. It is a great store. I don't know about all these people complaining but if I can save a dollar today I like that. I guess if money is not an issue and you do not care about people as well off as you are and need a break then you might oppose this store in town.
Les Masterson (Editor) May 04, 2011 at 11:41 PM
Please stop calling others names and hiding behind aliases on this board. Three comments by the same alias were just removed. Please use your name and don't call people names. Thank you.
Joe Veno May 04, 2011 at 11:46 PM
Thank you Les. I just checked and no where in my post did I call any one a do-gooder. Or any other name.
Dewey Good May 05, 2011 at 12:02 AM
Les - There was no name calling in my post. If you read my post and tied them back to Mr. Veno's posts you will see I was only using the words Mr. Veno used in his post to paint anyone who opposes his opinion as a do-gooder and uber-wealthy. Here is Mr. Veno's "do-gooder" comments: Joe Veno 4:02pm on Tuesday, May 3, 2011 dgo, you hit the nail right on the head. Let all these do gooders buy it and put what ever they want in there. And here Mr. Veno infers that people who oppose OSJL are uber-rich and do not care about people as well off as them : Joe Veno 6:45pm on Wednesday, May 4, 2011 I agree Carole but it seems some people feel they are to good to have an OSJL in town. It is a great store. I don't know about all these people complaining but if I can save a dollar today I like that. I guess if money is not an issue and you do not care about people as well off as you are and need a break then you might oppose this store in town. Why are these post not being removed since they are name calling and making generalizations about people? So were my post removed because they countered Mr. Veno's opinion? Too bad. I only countered his hostile remarks about people who oppose OSJL. Sounds to me that you are selctive in your removal of name calling comments. Plus I see plenty of alaises on this site so that should not be the reason for the removal of the comments. Reply
Les Masterson (Editor) May 05, 2011 at 12:15 AM
"Do-Gooder," please use your name and not an alias -- per our policy. Thank you.
Heather May 05, 2011 at 01:44 AM
Thank you Les for commentating this neighborhood discussion. I think lots of great ideas have been brought up and I must say that I am smiling to find so many other locals that share my values and hope for our community. This comment board, our boycott discussion and my dissatisfaction at our new S&S grocery motivated me to shop at small businesses this week. I found a great butcher and saved money too. In addition, a comment regarding a beautification initiative is a great idea and something I would jump on board with (apologies I forgot who to credit that to.) Also I believe selectman Michael Prisco makes complete sense encouraging more community involvement. I dread becoming overly political but maybe offering our ideas will invite good town conversation and make getting involved easy, maybe even fun.  I think everyone cares a great deal. In addition just to finish more of my goodie goodie rant  (not the first time I've been called that)....Farmers Market anyone? 
Bill May 05, 2011 at 03:07 AM
There are many committees in town that are defunct, I am pretty sure you can go to the office across from the tax assessors office and inquire about the ones that are defunct and ask about revitalizing them. One for example is a sidewalk committee. As a town we need to get more involved in what is going on, personally I think people are worrying about nothing with the prospect of OSJL. If we really want better business, we need to try to attract them to this town, and that will bring more business. We have the income, as the latest stats say our house hold income is on par with Lynnfield, Andover, North Andover, Reading, etc. I truly believe the biggest problem is lack of sewers in town, no company wants to spend several hundred thousand of dollars to replace septic systems. If I recall in the last 10 years the Shaws plaza has been redone 4 times due to what I assume was failure. I shop at walmart regularly, I have also noticed lately more BMWs, Mercedes and highend SUVs in that lot when I go, take that with a grain of salt. Another thought on the whole stop and shop debate, the land to the right of walmart is an old ball field and is owned by the current property owners I believe. I would love walmart to expand to that field and create a super market like the one in Salem, NH. Why not start a comitee to recruit business into north reading, show them the research of the wealth in this town and others and that they will have support for our dollars.
Monica Gregoire May 05, 2011 at 01:15 PM
Bill, A small group of citizens fought to revive the Sidewalk Committee. It is now called the Pedestrian Sidewalk Safety Committee. I would love to have more people come to our meetings and participate. We are currently working on some exciting projects and even brought in a representative from the Massachusetts Area Planning Commission to talk about the regional plan, improving walkability, and snow removal. (see http://northreading.patch.com/articles/walk-on). Please be sure to check the town meeting schedule as well as local media outlets for the date and time of our next meeting. I look forward to seeing more people there.

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