SOUTHBURY — Jerry Vanasse recently assumed the position of store manager at ShopRite, 775 Main St. South. He told Voices, “I think customer service is where we stand out from other grocery stores. People enjoy the service they get here, which is all about respecting what our customers need and accommodating those needs. I am coming from the Derby store where customers recognized me as their go-to guy; now I’m your Southbury guy.”
His goal is to make the shopping experience easier.
“There are some people who don’t like to shop so we offer services like Shop at Home so you can either pick up your whole order or have it delivered to you. We get tons of compliments on it.”
Describing the store as medium-sized, Mr. Vanasse said, “There is a wide variety of products out there so we can’t carry everything. But, if a customer wants us to stock something specific, we’ll bring that in so they don’t have to go somewhere else.”
ShopRite in Southbury is one of 11 stores owned and operated by the Cingari family and Mr. Vanasse explained how involved the owners are in the operation, “Customers know us and we know them. We’ve grown up with their families. After 32 years, I’m seeing kids I once knew shopping with their kids.”
He enjoys hearing what the customers have to say as they share their own stories before relating the owner’s history.
Savatore Cingari started in 1929, buying an old school bus to offer fresh produce as Grade A Market until he moved into his first building in 1943.
His sons, Dom, Sam, and Rocky joined the family business in 1959 when they remodeled an old ice cream factory as their first supermarket.
The family business became members of the Wakefern/ShopRite cooperative in 1991 and, today, four generations of the Cingari family own and operate 11 stores in Fairfield and New Haven counties.
The Cingari family puts a priority on giving back, and Mr. Vanasse intends to establish a good working relationship with the community in his new managerial role. “I handle at least two requests every day for support. We want to be a good neighbor.”
ShopRite also responds to the dietary trends and needs of its customers, offering organic foods and gluten free items, and even providing advice on an individual basis through the services of a professional dietician.
Even something as mundane as a bottle return machine receives thoughtful consideration to ensure customers are not frustrated. “We’re getting machines that not only have a larger capacity, they’ll alert us before they’re full so no one is waiting for a machine to take their returns.”
Mr. Vanasse said that the store is very active in its own recycling efforts.
The store engages in cardboard recycling, composting, and sorts unsold food to share with farmers raising cattle and, in the case of higher quality perishable items, the local food bank to ensure nutritious options for those who might otherwise go hungry.
Bins at the store allow customers to donate food items to fight hunger.
ShopRite has added more containers for plastic bag recycling, which Mr. Vanasse said is used to make new products such as park benches. “Of course, we encourage recyclable grocery bags. We work hard to make sure the materials we recycle are uncontaminated so we make a difference. When we all pitch in, together we can make a difference.”
Of his own duties, he admits the job is time consuming given the variety of responsibilities, including personnel and equipment issues. “There are long hours, like so many jobs today, so it’s important to step back when I can and recharge.
ShopRite offers an in-store pharmacy, meat department that can customize orders, a bakery, and catering options.
“We have just about anything you’d need for a great party, from the flowers for the table to the desserts for the end of a meal. Our produce and fish are delivered fresh but, really, it goes back to customer service. There are several grocery stores and we all sell apples, oranges, and peas. We make it simple and will make anything wrong right again because we want you to enjoy shopping here.”
ShopRite is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.
Questions for the Southbury store may be directed to 203-262-1477 and more information is available at www.shoprite.com.