What Stores Do You Want in Hillsborough?

There's more retail space available in town. What do you want to see come in?

Two Hillsborough shops are slated to close­ this year.

Though it’s news that Kmart and Blockbuster Video will soon close down shop in Hillsborough, it’s hardly unexpected. Comments on the Hillsborough Patch Facebook showed little wonder about either store closing, with residents noting that they preferred shopping at WalMart or Target or that they just get movies from NetFlix or other, similar services.

With the two empty storefronts, what would you prefer to see in the Blockbuster and Kmart spots? We’ve heard residents requests for a Trader Joe’s somewhere in town, a Retro Fitness, and your editor would love to see an Ulta somewhere closer than Warren, East Brunswick or Princeton.

What do you want to see in the vacant stores in town?

Here’s what you need to know today:

You Need to Know It’s for Moms: The  hosts , a program for parents and caregivers at 10 a.m. today. Children up to three years old are invited to attend, and toys will be provided for them to play. You’ll want to let them know you’re coming, which can be done by calling the children’s desk at 908-369-2200, extension 14. 

You Need to Know About Senses: The H offers a story program on the five sense for children ages four, five and six at 1 p.m. today. You’ll need to call the Children’s Desk at 908-369-2200, extension 14 to let them know your child will attend.

You Need to Know About Computers: The offers a basic computer skills course at 2 p.m. today. You’ll need to ensure there are still open spots for your-less-than-computer-savvy friend—and ensure they have a laptop to bring—by calling 908-369-2200.

You Need to Know About Cancellations: The ’s 6 p.m. Teen Book Trailer program is cancelled. It’s been rescheduled for 6 p.m. April 30.

You Need to Know About Meetings: The n meets at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the cafeteria. 


Juliet Strauss February 29, 2012 at 03:02 AM
I would like to see - don't beat me up - an indoor flea market space that would be an incubator for small businesses. A space where small vendors could rent out 300 sq ft and put in their T-shirt business, or handicrafts, or even baked goods. We could even have a "kitchen incubator" - a commercial kitchen space rented out for hours to days for those folks whose home-based baking business has outgrown their space, but can't afford the rent on their own permanent commercial kitchen. To expand on that idea, we could also have "carpentry incubators" and what-have-you. Nothing against big box stores, I'd love to see Trader Joe's or Whole Foods in town, but the money spent at these stores tends to leave the area. Getting creative folks the traction to overcome that big startup bump might serve the community better, and launch new local businesses.
Hepcat February 29, 2012 at 01:15 PM
I vote for Erin for mayor. This is such a great idea and with the right moves, could actually make Hillsborough an attractive location for *gasp* TOURISM!
Hepcat February 29, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Sammy - do you have evidence to support that? I've looked at the rent prices in all of those towns, because I've been considering a store front for my business. Rents in Hillsborough ARE high compared to Bridgewater, Branchburg and especially Somerville. You can't throw Princeton into the mix though. That's apples and oranges.
Hepcat February 29, 2012 at 01:24 PM
I brought up this same idea in another discussion, Juliet. To me, Costcutters is a great location for an indoor flea market.
Christine February 29, 2012 at 01:53 PM
It would be great to have a business for active recreation such as bowling, indoor rock climbing, and/or roller skating. Currently, Hillsborough residents have to travel too far for these. They become great venues for children's birthday parties, school fundraisers, and community leagues for citizens of all ages.
Hepcat February 29, 2012 at 02:09 PM
By the way, I also disagree with your opinion that Hillsborough is a town of "cheap" customers. You've stated it multiple times as if it's a fact, but I don't buy it. If this town were filled with cheap consumers, you wouldn't have a booming child care industry where the most expensive daycare center in town has a waiting list. You wouldn't see so many high priced cars, or expensive clothing on the kids. I think Hillsborough is a town filled with informed consumers who are willing to spend money on things they see value in. An unwillingness to waste money is not the same as being cheap. Sadly, many of the people in Hillsborough that have money to spend are doing it in other towns because the stores they like are not here. Hillsborough has fewer than 40,000 residents (according to the 2010 census) and that number provides the other side of this double-edged sword. You have too few residents to attract more stores, but having more stores would keep more money in town. So what's the solution?
Carol Ahlert March 01, 2012 at 06:01 AM
If you think Panera would put Culinary Creations out of business, think again The 206 Amwell Corner has 3 Liquor stores. I am sure people thought that would not fly. It's just competition and keeps pricing on key. Big chain restaurants won't work. The old Joe and Mary's in Skillman has changed it's name several times for lack of business, as has the old Jasper's here in Hillsborough. I think having aTrader Joe's or how about a nice Jewish Deli in our area is the thing to do. They will come running.
jerseyjoed March 01, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Someone mentioned a bowling center. We had one, where the Cost Cutter's was....Someone mentioned a supermarket... we had one, where the Cost Cutters was. We also had a wonderful market with great meats, wonderful fresh baked goods, fresh fruit, homemade pickled items, a pretzel shop and lots more. We forced it to close because it was "ugly". The "pretty" version was reopened in Flemington and is always packed with shoppers. The empty "ugly" Hillsborough buildings were recently torn down after about 15 years. I suspect K mart will ultimately become a storage place, and Cost Cutters another badly needed bank.
Laura Madsen March 01, 2012 at 07:27 PM
jerseyjoed, I think you're right....if that Kmart plaza doesn't get some kind of overhaul soon, I can't see anything more than a storage place taking root there. And, you know how we have a bank shortage here in 'Boro. LOL ;) Love the humor!
BDVideo March 04, 2012 at 05:04 AM
You know, I bet a self storage business would do alright there. My first job was K-Mart in 1984, and even then it seemed a little low rent. As high school kids, we used to consider it one notch above Woolworth for clothes. I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe it's the traffic and the difficulty turning in from the northbound side. Also note that this section of highway won't be helped by the bypass. I'm not too optimistic about the Green Village plan near there, traffic-wise.
BDVideo March 04, 2012 at 05:20 AM
So, is it true what Curt Carnes posted here? Maestro 206 failed? All I can find is their dead web site. There's another spot in town that just seems to have trouble in any economy. I can't remember what it was when I was a kid, but it was also Jersey Jim's Brewery, and Coco La, of course. From the reviews I read, I was afraid to try it (unlike Joey G's, which seems to have found its stride). That's another spot where: 1) it's hard to enter from northbound 206, and 2) will remain 2 lanes with no turn lane for the foreseeable future. (RR bridge there) One could argue that spot seems a bit industrial for nice restaurant. I bet a fast food place or diner would do OK there.
S.G. March 04, 2012 at 04:13 PM
The Lobster Dock was in Hillsborough for many years and closed a few years ago.
S.G. March 04, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Guess you mean Amwell Hardware...we miss them and Simon's Appliance store that was next door to them - repairs and sales.
Hepcat March 05, 2012 at 12:53 PM
My wife and I drove by on Friday night at around 9:30 and thought it was odd that the lights were out and the parking lot was empty. We asked around and heard from several people they had closed up shop. That one has me scratching my head. They always seemed to have a good crowd there, every night of the week. That's an industry I'll never understand!
Patti Buckle March 05, 2012 at 06:18 PM
I was amazed that Maestro stayed open as long as it did. The bar crowd on the weekends was the only things keeping it hanging on for a while. When Joey G's opened, the bar competition went there. For 206 being such a well traveled road, one would think we wouldn't have so many failed buisinesses giving us empty store fronts. However, a business has to be consistent with their good service to establish a loyal clientel, not just hit or miss. Since the rents are very high, the businesses can't survive if they don't establish a regular flow of customers as soon as they open in our town. We have very few decent restaurants in the area and when we go to our neighboring towns on a Friday or Saturday night for dinner, we sometimes have an hour wait. Clearly that tells us our town would benefit from having a restaurant with an already established reputation to open here. I would love the owners of Chimney Rock Inn to consider opening a place in Hillsborough.
sammy March 05, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Patti, The "rents are not too dam high". They are lower than Bridgewater. the problem is that Hillsborough does not support those resteraunts you speak of. Presumably you are talking about the ones at or near the MALL and the ones by Wegmans. The reason why they are not here is that the owners are smart enough to higher consultants to tell them what we already know... we are a CHEAP town and will not sustain those businesses plus we get a bad break because ours in a one way in town. As opposed to those other locations that include 287, 22, 78, 202, 206 and a much larger and affluent population. i hope that sheds all the light you need.
BDVideo March 06, 2012 at 06:57 AM
No, it's not because people are cheap. That's not why we don't have upscale shopping and restaurants in Hillsborough. I've been here for 40 of my 44 years, and I've seen Hillsborough go from a place with gravel roads to an award winning place to live. Hillsborough is still tied to its history. Hillsborough was never a place to go TO; it was a place to go THROUGH, or live IN or farm IN. In 1971, my parents moved us from Manville so we could have a bigger yard and my dad could get to Johns Manville to work. Friends teased us about moving to the "boonies." When we went out to dinner, we drove to Rt. 22 or down the shore. So did people from other small towns and rural areas. And now you have all the bigger franchises and more formal restaurants in the bigger towns and highway corridors, because for so many years people would drive to those places. Now, we have some local shopping and eateries, but mostly we have the day-to-day businesses such as fast food, groceries, banks galore, and the kinds of places that we don't want to go out of town for. They're businesses that can survive with local customers. Upscale businesses would have to rely on people coming INTO Hillsborough, not just locals. Being so close to Bridgewater's Mall and Wegman's, Manville's WalMart, Somerville's restaurants, Flemington's outlets, and Princeton and Rt. 1, it's just not going to happen overnight. Especially not on any two-lane stretch of 206.
BDVideo March 06, 2012 at 07:00 AM
Of course, it would be nice if we had a few more "grown up" places to eat. I believe we have a set number of liquor licenses, which becomes part of the equation.
Laura Madsen March 11, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Hi all, Retro Fitness is opening in Hillsborough in June. I just wrote a blog on it. Come on over. Here's the link: http://hillsborough.patch.com/blog_posts/retro-fitness-scheduled-to-open-in-june Curious what everyone has to say on the matter.
Fran March 11, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Where is retro fitness club going to open? Seems like we have plenty of these kind of places already but that's the rut the Hillsborough is in......more of the same old, same old. Time to bring in something NEW!!!
Laura Madsen March 12, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Hi Jann, The Retro Fitness is going to open in the Stop & Shop Plaza this June. Here's a link to the blog I wrote on the subject which has more details: http://hillsborough.patch.com/blog_posts/retro-fitness-scheduled-to-open-in-june
Lisa March 15, 2012 at 09:28 PM
LearningExpress is no longer around either. It was located in the Kohls shopping plaza, next to Payless.
Annie March 16, 2012 at 05:04 PM
My family really misses the Lobster Dock. It was our favorite local place. Nothing like a restaurant in a fish market.
Annie March 16, 2012 at 05:06 PM
I was one who voted for Trader Joe's. Princeton is closer than Westfield but the return trip is such a bear it's not even worth going. What a great store, though.
Erin March 19, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Erin March 19, 2012 at 11:57 PM
We need a mexican restaurant in Hillsborough!
Annie March 20, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Aren't there still one or two on Amwell Road? There was one (sorry, I forgot the name) behind the 5 Guys and another, La Costenita, in the Bagel BOP strip. Did they close, too, along with El Paso and Los Jalapenos?
Sly March 20, 2012 at 05:47 PM
La Costenita is still there...Never knew about any behind Five Guys. I did like Los Jalapenos for a while but then it closed. Love Mexican and all for another restaurant here in town!
Renee March 25, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Would love Whole Foods, trader Joe's, a Children's museum, upscale clothing stores/shoe store (boutique or chain) for adults and kids, roller rink, indoor rock climbing, etc. I feel like I am always leaving town to get what I need
Valerie Rhatigan May 19, 2012 at 04:52 PM
I am waiting for Weiss to come to Hillsborough - we need a supermarket on this side of town. (especially after all those homes are built on Falcon Rd.) Outback Steakhouse is a great idea also. I and many others whom I have been speaking to really want a supermarket in the Pathmark space. Really, really miss it. Val Rhatigan


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