March 15, 2019

Miller Place, New York

Welcome to Miller Place, a hamlet located on Long Island’s North Shore, in what is often regarded as “Eastern Suffolk County.” (This term is often dismissed by residents, as it is actually the geographic center of the county. Do the North and South Forks even exist? Possibly not, but I digress.)

Route 25A, the area’s major thoroughfare, is responsible both for conveying the livestock into and out of No Man’s Land, as well as to Riverhead, where they may choose between outlet shopping, or fulfilling their civic duty at the Suffolk County Courthouse for the 10th Judicial District. Today, 25A serves as an extension of 347 (Nesconset Highway), providing an aggravating, though necessary gateway to the Northern State, or the Long Island Expressway, enabling one to escape the minutiae of listening to a never-ending pizza-debate between Branchinelli’s, Colosseo and Little Vincent’s. The Long Island Rail Road gave up on this area 80 years ago, cutting off service east of the nearby Port Jefferson.

Miller Place itself, a bustling blend of residential and commercial property, currently features ONE supermarket. You guessed it—Stop & Shop. Opening in 2002, the store was the final nail-in-the-coffin for the Miller Place Waldbaum’s store, located next door. The then-recent conversion sign replacement of an A&P, was severely suffering from underinvestment. While the surrounding East Setauket and Rocky Point Waldbaum’s stores were replaced/rebuilt in the late 1990s, the Miller Place store was living in a delusional fantasy that it was 1968 and the Plaid Stamps would keep its customers coming back.

They didn’t. A&P called it quits in Miller Place in 2006. Naturally, Ahold purchased the lease on the store, preventing a competitor from entering the market, leading to an eventual sale to Marshalls. Yes, John Sherman and Benjamin Harrison are shaking their heads. Of course, A&P used this tactic as well, notably (and unsuccessfully) after their East Patchogue store closed.

They still aren't fooling anyone.

Back to 2002. At this time, Stop & Shop had only a minor presence on Long Island, mostly stemming from the purchase of Melmarkets Foodtown, a few Edwards conversions, and a handful of Grand Unions the company had scooped up. It was now time for some ground-up builds. Big, bright, and well-stocked, the Long Island grocery business did not know what had hit it. Pathmark may have had them beat in the price category, A&P was trying to position Waldbaum’s as “upscale” and “fresh,” but it was only a matter of time before a few bad negotiations would cause things to go south for those chains. I don’t even need to mention King Kullen. Nobody does.

The Miller Place store was constructed in the style typical of the Stop & Shop Supermarket Company's New England stores, based on a prototype which originated in the early 80s. Source: Rosenbaum Design Group,

In 2002, Stop & Shop was about to retire their red and green look of the 90s, in favor of the “Ocean & Tide” look of the 2000s. The Miller Place store missed that cutoff, and so it originally featured such service departments as “The Deli Shop” and “The Butcher Shop,” complete with the friendly, yet faceless (but mustached) butcher, ready to custom cut your porterhouse.

An example of the 90s/early 2000s decor, as seen at the South Setauket store.

This would come to an end in 2009, approximately one year after the company had debuted its “fruitbowl” logo, as well as the accompanying purple and yellow piss decor. As this was one of the earlier conversions, its remodel was relatively extensive. Unlike many of Ahold’s cheaper conversions of successive decor packages, Miller Place received a new floor, new Laicor checkstands to replace the Pan Ostons. Interestingly, self checkouts changed sides at this store during this time, but remained older PSI belt-models, ostensibly refurbished by IBM, now featuring beige cabinets rather than the previous green. Very modern, I know. These would be again replaced two times over, including the brief appearance of a Fujitsu U-Scan “Scan-It! Express Lane” which the front end folks got tired of paying attention to real fast. Today, the store features a corral of six Toshiba bag lanes, arranged in the "bullpen" layout which the company is currently pushing.

Miller Place was one of a handful of stores to receive a Fujitsu
U-Scan ScanIt! Express Lane.

The front-end of the Miller Place store in March 2017


Competition eventually dropped off, particularly with the demise of A&P, killing the supermarkets directly to the east and west, Rocky Point Waldbaum’s and Port Jefferson Pathmark, respectively. Rocky Point was briefly salvaged by Noah Katz and PSK Supermarkets, who operated it as a Foodtown for a couple years before selling it to...drumroll please….Stop & Shop. Recall Sherman and Harrison. They can at least rejoice now that after several years of sorting leases out, building permits, construction, etc., the Gallagher family plans to open the Port Jeff ShopRite store on the former Pathmark property in March of 2019.

Although I said I wouldn’t, I must now mention King Kullen. In the previous paragraph, I named Port Jefferson Pathmark as the competitor directly to the west. It isn’t. Mount Sinai King Kullen is. Its existence had completely slipped my mind. Take that for what it’s worth. The King Kullen chain is in the process of an acquisition by Ahold, the parent company of Stop & Shop. Sherman? Harrison? Why do I even bother talking about these people…

Tomra replaced four of the reverse vending machines in 2013.
One T-42, original to the store, remained in service until late February 2019.
ANYWAY…this ugly decor would remain in place until 2017, when it was annihilated in favor of “Project Thunder,” an interesting yet drab package with high hopes for the future, only to be retired by the company within two years. Nevertheless, it was a welcome addition to this store, as it covered the cheesy purple and yellow paint, cheap graphics and corny catchphrases with grey, symbolizing the death of an era we wish had never happened.

Miller Place, New York

385 NY-25A, Miller Place, NY 11764

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  1. Great first post! Congratulations on your new blog and I can't wait to see what else you have up your sleeves!

  2. This store was one of the best performers on LI since they killed the competition here. I'm not sure if it still is, considering the sddition of the Rocky Point store and a new ShopRite in Port Jeff that replaced a vacant Pathmark.

    Also those Scan-It only lanes sucked because customers don't read. Some of the current remodels have put in a EZ-Pass style mechanism on the side of the bullpens to speed up Scan-It orders. I think Farmingville has this.
    Apparently Ralph Macchio lives in the area and shops here often.