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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ShopRite Opens its Doors in Fairfield

ShopRite Opens 
its Doors in Fairfield:
“Family” celebration 
precedes public debut
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – Aaah, there’s nothing like that new store smell. Or a whole lot of family sharing a celebratory moment.

Those two elements came together early Tuesday evening when ShopRite supermarket, at 1975 Black Rock Turnpike, held an in-store party on the eve of its opening to the public, scheduled for 9 a.m. on Wednesday, September 14. About 250 ShopRite employees – most hired to work the new store, the balance from the chain’s other area stores – members of the Cingari family (who own the chain), Fairfield Chamber of Commerce staff and media all gathered to enjoy wine, cheese, hot food and other goodies. The food and drink was set up at several stations in the north end of the spanking new store, which gleamed from floor to ceiling, with everything neatly stacked and presented.

Among the employees attending was Bianca Whitaker, a cashier, who explained that at least 25 people will be working the new store at any given time of the day. This includes cashiers, baggers, front-end managers, a store manager and representatives for each of the departments, which include bakery, produce, seafood, deli, meat, haba (non-food), floral, groceries, point-of-sale and maintenance.

“I was part of one store launch before, in Shelton,” Whitaker said. “It’s very exciting to see a new store open. At the same time, a lot of hard work goes into it – cleaning, price tagging, scheduling, calling employees.”

Francisco Tavarez, who works at sister store Grade A in Shelton said, “It’s interesting to meet all these people from all the stores. It’s like one big family – we’re a family company. I’ve been with the store for 11 years. It keeps growing and growing.”

ShopRite co-owner Joe Cingari, who was milling about near a food station of fresh mozzarella balls, crackers and sharp provolone, gave some background about how the chain first came into being. “My grandfather, Salvatore, started the business in 1943 and family has followed – his sons Dom (Joe’s dad, who recently passed), Rocky and Sam; grandsons Chip, Tom and myself; and now great-grandsons Dominick and Tom, Jr. We are truly a family business,” he said.

The first store actually wasn’t a store at all, but a bus. “From the bus, which was in Stamford, my grandfather sold eggs that came from a chicken coop, vegetables from Grandma Rose’s garden and some Italian groceries,” Joe said. “The first actual store was on Shippan Avenue in Stamford. It was called Grade A and opened November 10, 1943. The Fairfield store is our 10th store, under the name Grade A ShopRite, and is part of the ShopRite Co-op, which consists of approximately 45 families with 250 stores. Together, we take advantage of buying and advertising efficiencies to offer customers the best prices.”

Joe imagined Salvatore was looking down and saying “Good job, boys.”

Dominick Cingari, looking dapper in a tan suit, expressed that ShopRite will have everything Fairfield shoppers are seeking. “We have natural and organic products, gluten-free, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood delivered daily seven days a week, and baked goods made fresh every day,” he said. “In terms of customer service, no one does it better. We really pride ourselves on taking care of our customers. We even have carry-out service. So, in the rain, that escort will see you out with an umbrella.”

ShopRite is also unique in that it has a dietitian, Jamie Lee McIntyre, on staff – the only supermarket company in Fairfield County to have one. “There are three parts to my position: Associate Wellness, Customer Nutrition Education and Community Outreach,” she said. “I’m based out of Stamford and serve communities across the county.”

For bubbly Sasha Rosario, a new cashier, the store launch was a thrill. “I think it’s awesome to be part of something like this,” she said. “I’m excited for the experience. The Cingari’s are great. They have great hearts.”

Standing beside Rosario, bookkeeper Diana Zapata said, “I’ve worked for the Cingari’s for six years. In fact, I got married in the ShopRite store in Commerce Park, Stamford.” You couldn't get a better example than that of the store’s family orientation!

Welcome to Fairfield, ShopRite! Long may you be part of our community!

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