TOMS RIVER, NJ – It’s no secret that the retail box store industry has been in decline for almost a decade, but it was surviving. This year, COVID-19 has decimated the industry as shoppers flock to online shopping experiences nationwide and fewer are driving out to the big box stores these days for their purchases. Bed Bath and Beyond announced the closure of 200 stores nationwide earlier this year and this week, we have learned that the Toms River store didn’t make the cut.
Going out of business signs were posted on the storefront windows this week at the Bey Lea Plaza on Hooper Avenue. Everything inside the store is now on sale and the huge retail space is back on the real estate market. This summer, the company announced the closure of the Howell Township store on Route 9, leaving their Brick Township store as their last remaining store in the northern Ocean and southern Monmouth County region.
Bed Bath and Beyond stores in Stafford, Middletown, Eatontown and Manalapan appear to be safe from closure for now.
Times have changed in Toms River. In the 80’s, no day out at the Bey Lea Plaza was complete without stopping at Ground Round for a burger and a basket of popcorn, the parents browsing through the Best shopping store then begging your parents to let you walk through Toys R Us or the nearby record store. All, now long gone. Later the plaza would host Baby’s R Us.
A Burlington (Coat Factory) store has replaced Toys R Us and the Tuscan Bistro Bar (and several others prior, including the Joshua Huddy Brew Pub) have replaced the Ground Round. Two businesses that have withstood the test of time are the Brave New World surf shop and Friendly’s restaurant.