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It’s been 70 years since the liquor lobby got the state to cap the number of licenses and create an artificial monopoly; but now New Jersey needs whatever revenue it can get and a repeal of the ban on alcoholic beverage sales could have a big effect on the economy.

(ABOVE: Because of New Jersey’s outmoded laws, Hoboken has a bar one every block while many suburban towns have almost no places to drink.)

I was driving past a strip mall in Brick Township that is now half-empty because a supermarket closed. My goal was another strip mall in Toms River that is now half-empty, also because a supermarket closed.

On the way I passed a dozen or so strip malls that had “vacancy” signs in their windows.

When I got to my destination, I saw an empty storefront with the outline of the name “Pathmark” still visible where the letters had been taken down a year or so ago. There were plenty of other vacant stores as well, all with signs begging some business owner to choose them over the hundreds of similar vacant locations nearby.

The reason for my trip was a conversation I had in the Statehouse last week with George Jacobs, who is a real-estate developer with commercial interests all over the state.

Jacobs told me the situation at that mall in Toms River is being replicated all over as storefront operations lose market share to the big online retailers like Amazon.

“Retail is struggling. The clothing industry is struggling. Toys R Us just filed bankruptcy. Babies R Us is closing,” Jacobs told me. “I have not done a new clothing store lease in a few years.”

Clothing sales have been particularly hard-hit by online competition, he said. There’s not much clothing in a mall that can’t be bought online.

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Source:: New Jersey Real -Time News

      

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