Amazon is planning a third Amazon Fresh grocery store for Long Island, in part of an East Setauket location vacated six years ago by Waldbaum's.
The Nesconset Highway site joins locations in Oceanside and Plainview that the e-commerce goliath has slated for its new-concept grocery stores, which feature technology that allows shoppers to skip the checkout line.
The Amazon Fresh stores are planned for 4054 Nesconset Hwy. in East Setauket, another former Waldbaum's site at 3620 Long Beach Road in Oceanside and a former Fairway Market at 50 Manetto Hill Road in Plainview, according to building renovation documents filed with the towns of Brookhaven, Hempstead and Oyster Bay, and license applications submitted to the New York State Liquor Authority.
Newsday reported in the spring about the stores planned for Oceanside and Plainview.
Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc., which is typically tight-lipped about its plans for new stores, did not respond to Newsday’s request for comment Tuesday, nor did it comment when questioned in the spring about its plans for the Oceanside and Plainview stores.
Amazon Retail LLC applied for grocery beer/wine product licenses on May 21 for the Amazon Fresh store planned for Oceanside, Nov. 17 for the East Setauket location and Nov. 18 for the planned Plainview store, according to the liquor authority’s website. All three applications are pending.
The former Waldbaum’s stores in East Setauket and Oceanside were among 51 Long Island grocery stores, some of which were Pathmark supermarkets, that closed after their parent company, Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2015.
The Fairway Market in Plainview closed in July 2020 after its parent company, Manhattan-based Fairway Group Holdings Corp., failed to find a buyer for the store after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January 2020.
The East Setauket store would be in a portion of the 56,000-square-foot space vacated by Waldbaum’s in Suffolk Plaza, a shopping center owned by Brixmor Property Group, a Manhattan-based real estate investment trust.
Brixmor spokeswoman Kristen Moore confirmed that a 42,908-square-foot grocery store was under renovation in part of the former Waldbaum’s space, but declined to disclose its name. The rest of the former Waldbaum's space has been leased to discount retailer Five Below, Moore said.
The town of Brookhaven issued a building permit for the grocery store's interior alterations in March, town spokesman Jack Krieger said.
The Plainview store would occupy 33,342 square feet, or 60%, of the 55,162-square-foot space in Manetto Hill Plaza that Fairway vacated. In June, Oyster Bay issued a building permit for the renovation work, which is taking place now, town spokesman Brian Nevin said.
The Oceanside store is slated for a 47,300-square-foot space vacated by Waldbaum’s. The town of Hempstead issued a building permit for renovation work in February, acting Building Department Commissioner Frederick A. Jawitz said.
Amazon, which bought the Whole Foods Market chain for $13.7 billion in 2017, opened the first Amazon Fresh store in Woodland Hills, California, in August 2020. There are now 21 stores in California, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington state and Washington, D.C.
Amazon is using Amazon Fresh to attract customers who aren’t fans of high-end Whole Foods, which focuses on organic and natural foods, said Jon Hauptman, senior director of Inmar Intelligence, a retail industry analytics company in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Amazon Fresh offers a more traditional grocery selection.
"The conventional grocery store serves the broader market as it has a little bit of everything, which means the Fresh store can help Amazon grow its grocery business more quickly as it will appeal to a wider range of customers," said David Bishop, a partner at Brick Meets Click, a Barrington, Illinois-based consulting firm that focuses on the online grocery industry.
Amazon Fresh stores emphasize technology that lets shoppers pay without going through checkout lines.
Most Amazon Fresh stores use the Amazon Dash Cart, which is a "smart shopping cart." Customers can sign into the cart using the Amazon app, place their bags in the cart and leave the store using the Dash Cart lane.
"When you exit through the store’s Amazon Dash Cart lane, sensors automatically identify the cart, and your payment is processed using the credit card on your Amazon account," Amazon says on its website.
Amazon Fresh at a glance
What it sells: Traditional grocery offerings
What's new: "Smart" shopping carts charge you automatically, so you can skip the checkout line
Locations: 21 stores in 6 states and Washington, D.C.
LI locations planned: East Setauket, Oceanside, Plainview