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RED BANK: STORE CLOSING A SAD SURPRISE

Shoppers at Red Bank’s Sickles market hours before it closes for good.  (Photo by Brian Donohue. Click to enlarge.)

By BRIAN DONOHUE and JOHN T. WARD

“Shocking.” “Total bummer.” “Holy moly.”

These were just a few of the reactions of shoppers on hearing about the abrupt closing of the Red Bank Sickles Market Thursday.

Sickles Market in Red Bank on its final day of business. (Photo by Brian Donohue. Click to enlarge)

Some had learned it was the store’s last day in business only upon arriving. Others had hurried to the store after hearing the news, with the hopes of picking up whatever specialty food item they had come to love from the place.

For Mark Davis it was “the burgers with the black beans in them.” They were all sold out, in a space with lots of suddenly empty shelves.

“I’m surprised,” Davis said. “I thought they were doing fine. I guess I’m just surprised.”

At the original Sickles location in Little Silver, owner and marketing manager Tori Sickles politely declined to provide any more details about the closure, although she appeared visibly saddened.

“Everything we have to say is in our message,’’ she said referring to the newsletter the store sent out to customers and posted on social media.

With its urban vibe and an in-store coffee shop operated by Booskerdoo, Sickles was seen as a harbinger of a transformation of the area around the train station when it opened in the pandemic-crushed 2020.

But the move may have been too much, too soon. Denholtz Properties built and fully leased the 57-unit Rail apartment project just a block away, and developer David Popkin transformed a five-story office building at 170 Monmouth Street into apartments known as the Standard. But a wholesale makeover of the neighborhood has yet to begin. A possible rezoning of the train station parking lots and additional Denholtz holdings in the area as a Transit Village is still in the early stages.

What might become of the Sickles space? Chris Cole, a principal in Metrovation, which owns the building, told redbankgreen that his company has “worked very hard to create a dynamic mix of uses” on its four floors.

“We are already out talking to a number of potential uses that could really energize the first floor of the building and the neighborhood,” Metrovation principal Chris Cole told redbankgreen. “I truly believe that when we reposition the first floor, it will be better than ever.”

In the meantime, some customers bemoaned the loss of a store that had become a part of their routines, while other thers mourned the rare vibe of gleaming modern market run by a family with local roots dating back centuries.

“We’re really bummed about it,’’ said Amy Letizia, who had come with her husband Justin to grab the store-made cajun crab dip he loves. There was none left. “This is a bummer. It was great to have a family owned shop in the neighborhood.”

Arlene Thoma of Shrewsbury said the store had become a key part of her health regimen: she would take yoga classes at Open Heart, a yoga studio also in the Anderson Building, then head to Sickles for healthy food.

“Total shock,’’ she said. “It was all the package. They had everything in this building.”

The Booskerdoo coffee shop located within the Sickles space will continue to operate there, its owners said in a blast email.

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