Deceptive Branding by Local Gourmet Food Store

Each week I walk down to Hoboken to shop in some of the stores there. Currently, Jersey City Heights doesn’t have any gourmet or health food stores (that I know of). In Hoboken there are a few, including Basic Foods and until recently, Garden of Eden. (I know, you’re saying… hey, Garden of Eden is still there on Washington Street, ahh, nope…)

So, last week I’m on my usual trek to pick up some stuff and I walked all around the store, every last thing in it’s place. Picking up the usual items from their shelves and bins. The same people, same displays and even the same uniforms on the staff, almost! It’s not until I’ve paid and look at my receipt that I notice it says, Aspen Marketplace. Huh? I look up at the cashier and then notice their apron doesn’t say “Garden of Eden” anymore. I ask, “Who is Aspen Marketplace and what happened to Garden of Eden?” Answer: “Well, we’re under new management now.”

I want to assure you, the food was just the same, healthy, fresh and delicious, but how does a store rebrand itself so deceptively that I didn’t notice until paying? I felt like someone had taken advantage of me. I’m certainly happy that there’s a healthy food store for me to shop in, but they should have done something to let me (and others) know. What happened to the signs and banners a store used to fly, “Under New Management?” I’ve done a search on Google and cannot even come up with a logo for the brand, “Aspen Marketplace.”

Is it better to make sure the consumer is having the same wonderful experience in your store or should stores respect us and let us know they’ve changed owners?

garden of eden - not in hoboken anymore

Used to be Garden of Eden, now Aspen Marketplace, walk by and go in, see if you can tell it's changed?


12 thoughts on “Deceptive Branding by Local Gourmet Food Store

  1. Elizabeth

    I love it when one of my children points out that the donut shop has a new name. I always wonder if they think that the “regulars” will just chalk it up to new management and the “day trippers” will think they found the latest and greatest.
    It even makes me laugh when they use the same check out bags and branded items from the earlier ancestors.

  2. admin Post author

    Elizabeth, thanks so much for your comment! In this down economy it’s always sad to see so many stores close up or change hands. Sometimes stores disappears overnight and I’ll be walking down the street and see the empty store and try to figure what was there? Usually when a new shop opens they let us know, or should. – Susan

  3. Joanne

    If absolutely nothing else has changed but the management, I don’t really see why money would be spent on advertising, branding, etc. However, in this instance, the NAME changed. Maybe the owners didn’t want to scare away the regular customers, but I would think they would want to have them realize it’s still a great store, and tell all their friends.

  4. admin Post author

    Hi Joanne, Thanks for commenting! Yes if it were a franchise and just under new management, then I could understand them not making a fuss. But this was a different brand entirely. It’s like if I went to buy new sneakers and though I was buying “Nike” and instead weren’t. It just seemed to me as you say, they just wanted the regular customers to feel no change. – Susan

  5. Caroline Ceniza-Levine

    That’s such an interesting question that I hadn’t thought of before. When I see places advertising new management I look at it as a branding service to THEM. They are trying to draw attention to the newness. I never felt that I, as a shopper, needed to be informed. I don’t liken it to the Nike example but rather buying Nike’s at a Foot Locker that became a Modell’s. If it’s still Nikes, why should I care? If I’m the customer Aspen Marketplace wants then they did an ok thing. If you’re the customer they want, then they hurt themselves. Question is: do they know which customer they want, and can they identify that we’d have different opinions?

  6. Emily DeWan

    I can understand why they might not want to shout it from the rooftops. Customers often don’t like change, and the new managers were probably worried they would drive traffic away. I think ensuring the customer has the same wonderful experience shows just as much respect for them as sharing openly the change.

  7. admin Post author

    Caroline, You raise an interesting point. I see what you are saying. So long as the food is still fresh and delicious, why am I complaining? I just had breakfast and noticed the organic raisins in a plastic container had the same blue design wrapper band as if it were Garden of Eden but it said Aspen Marketplace. Isn’t this raising “Trade Dress” legal issues and couldn’t Garden of Eden take action? – Susan

  8. admin Post author

    Emily, I agree with you. It does show respect for us wanting nothing to change expect who owns the place. Let’s hope they keep that up. – Susan

  9. Debra

    To me, the whole idea of investing in naming and other branding activity is so that customers and clients DO notice who they’re doing business with, remember the name of that business and/or business owner, and share positive experiences with others in their community. Sounds like a huge missed opportunity for Aspen Marketplace, perhaps in strategy or perhaps a tactical failure to engage their employees in the process and strategic messaging. Now that I wrote this, I’m running out to Whole Foods for my veggies….

  10. admin Post author

    Debra, absolutely true and love the end of your comment and brand placement! There you go… telling us all you love to get your veggies at Whole Foods. It will be interesting to see what Aspen Marketplace does next. – Susan

  11. admin Post author

    Kris, thanks for your comment even if negative. Because I like to know where I am spending my money and also see this as a missed opportunity for them in marketing. Telling the neighborhood they are newly owned and to come check them out.

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