EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Produce Junction, a Delaware Valley chain focused on cut flowers, potted plants and produce, opened its 17th store — and first in eastern New Jersey —Friday in the Heathercroft Square shopping center.

Limited stocking for the soft opening left lots of open space in the 25,000 square-foot store, which occupies the site of the former Superfresh supermarket on Tilton Road.

Albert Gentile, owner of Swedesboro-based Produce Junction Inc., said it would soon be packed with people and plant products, which is why he makes his new stores so big.

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“All of our other stores right now are mob scenes because of Mother’s Day weekend,” Gentile said. “You can’t make it bigger after you open. I know what’s going to happen so I want to make sure it’s big enough.”

He said the new store, his first this far from Philadelphia where the chain was founded in 1977, makes sense because of the strong ties between the city and shore.

“This location is a natural because a lot of people in the Delaware Valley have summers homes down here and people have moved down here,” Gentile said.

Bill Fiore, of Longport, already knew about Produce Junction from his daughter and niece who lived on the western side of the state.

“My niece just told me about it so I came right over to get some flowers for my girlfriend,” Fiore said.

Sue Martyn, of the Farmington section of Egg Harbor Township, said she had been watching for the store to open as she worked out next store at Retro Fitness.

That made it convenient and the prices seemed good, she said, but “it’s a little weird” to have to pay for the fruits and vegetables separately and in cash only.

Gentile said the store will eventually have 25 to 30 employees.

Asked if the company would open another store in the region, he said, “We’ll see how this one goes.”

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