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At Family-Owned Bishop’s Supermarket, They Greet Every Customer

Bishop's Supermarket

Bishop’s Supermarket in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, is very much a family affair.

The company was founded in 1954 by William “Bill” Bishop and partner Bobby Dillon. They bought the store from Dillon’s father and uncle. The small, three-aisle store, known as Dillon and Bishop’s, was located downtown.

Bishop's Supermarket

Bill Bishop’s brother, Floyd, joined the business a year later, according to Bruce Bishop, Bill’s son and a department manager.

In 1958, Bobby Dillon and his wife were killed in a car wreck. The store then became Bishop’s Supermarket.

“In 1979, we moved down on the highway. We had a store on the other side of the liquor store. In ‘89 is when we put the big one up where we’re at now,” Bruce Bishop said. “My dad, he was always worried when we came from the town and went on the highway. We had the big W out there, and the A&P was out there. We were always worried about them. And now they’re gone and we’re still going.”

Bruce Bishop and his siblings, along with his cousins, grew up working in the grocery store. He said he started around age 10 or 12, filling up the soda machines. They also would sort bottles for returns.

“In the back room, we used to bag potatoes. They would buy 50-pound bags, and we would put them in brown paper bags,” Bishop said.

He and his siblings – Bob, Sue White and Robin Campbell – still work at the store, while their cousin Jimmy runs the adjacent liquor store.

Bishop’s Supermarket is well known for its prepared meals and meats.

“It’s unbelievable how many prepared meals that we sell,” Bishop said. “With both husband and wife working now, they don’t always have time to make big meals, so they just come in here and grab something. They can heat it up, and they’ve got their dinner for the night.”

His sister Sue, who also handles the finances for the store and a strip mall the family owns, prepares the meals in the kitchen. She uses their mother’s recipes for many of the items. His other sister, Robin, takes care of the front end.

Bishop's Supermarket

His brother runs the meat department. “He does a heck of a job. People can come in and order something, and he can tell them how to cook it. He’s very knowledgeable on that stuff,” Bishop said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Bishop’s Supermarket did the “best business we’ve ever done in our life.” While some shelves were empty, the meat department remained well stocked.

“My brother buys from four different purveyors to get meats and stuff … My brother always had the chicken, he had the beef and everything,” Bishop said. “And people came – they found out about us and a lot of them haven’t left. They keep coming back to us.”

Whitehouse Station has grown over the years and now boasts a population near 4,000. It is about 10 miles from the larger towns of Clinton, Summerville and Flemington.

“Forty or 50 years ago, you knew everybody in town. Now, you know faces, but you don’t know their names,” Bishop said.

The family has no plans to add more stores, content with one location.

“My sister just turned 70 today. I’m 71 and my brother’s 65,” Bishop said.

The younger generation has come on board to help. Bishop has three children working at the store, as well as two grandsons who help out. His sister also has two grandchildren working in the store.

He said his father lived until he was 82, working until the day he died.

“That’s what I always tell people, he set a bad example,” Bishop said with a laugh. “I’ll probably work until the day I die, too.”

When asked what he enjoys most about being an independent grocer, Bishop said it is the people.

“I say hello to every single customer. I may not know them, but I always acknowledge them with a ‘hello,’ ‘good morning’ or ‘good afternoon.’ And my brother and sisters are the same way. We say ‘hi’ to everybody.”

Read more market profiles from The Shelby Report.

About the author

Treva Bennett

Senior Content Creator

After 32 years in the newspaper industry, she is enjoying her new career exploring the world of groceries at The Shelby Report.

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