A Golden Farms outpost in Ozone Park, NY

Good news for Overbrook residents who were devastated when their local ShopRite closed last year after the operator cited soda tax woes: its replacement is set to open on Friday, Feb. 21 with a grand opening and ribbon cutting according to a press release about the event.

The new store will be a Golden Farms, property owner Tilak Singh told Billy Penn. Singh, whose company is not involved in operating the market, previously told Billy Penn the store would open on Valentine’s Day.

The 54k square feet market will have a hot food bar, deli and bakery, and promises to offer ethnic, organic and international groceries. Shoppers will still be able to access the 300-spot parking lot in front of the store, too.

Initially slated to open last fall, the newcomer was originally pegged as a Key Food — and Golden Farms is in fact an offshoot operated by that NY-based supermarket company, which also owns SuperFresh and other brands.

Located close to the city line, Golden Farms will face competition from other nearby stores outside of Philadelphia proper that are not subject to a 1.5-cents-per-ounce levy on sugary beverages. Brown’s ShopRite owner Jeff Brown said in January 2019 he was forced to close because of soda tax costs.

“The store lost about a quarter of its business, most of it in 2017 after the beverage tax was implemented,” Brown told WHYY at the time, adding that the store had been losing more than $1 million annually.

Before it closed, ShopRite had operated in Overbrook for 30 years and for a time, was the only full-service grocer in the neighborhood. In 2015, an Aldi opened more than a mile away.

“We’re heartbroken that it’s closing,” one neighbor told the Inquirer about the Overbrook ShopRite last year. Others added that senior citizens in the neighborhood relied on the walking-distance market.

The new operator does not yet have hands-on experience with Philly’s soda tax. Across its brands, Key Foods has more than 255 locations in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey. The closest to Philadelphia is about 70 miles away in Eaton, Pa.

Golden Farms will join a years-long supermarket boom happening in Philadelphia. Between 2015 and 2018, 56 grocery stores opened in Philadelphia — countering conventional wisdom that the beverage tax would be an industry killer.

Brown has maintained the soda tax is damaging his bottom line. After announcing the closure of the Overbrook location, Brown said two more locations were hemorrhaging revenue thanks to the soda tax.

More than 300 ShopRite employees lost their jobs after the implementation of the soda tax, Brown said. Brown’s Super Stores operates six ShopRites in Philadelphia and five additional stores throughout the Delaware Valley.

To date, there have been no additional Philly-area ShopRite closures.

Layla A. Jones (she/her) was a general assignment reporter for Billy Penn from 2019 to 2021. Her work has helped underserved community organizations, earned free repairs for property owners who sustained...