For more than 30 years, this family-owned food market chain has built a reputation for fresh food and customer service. A family tradition that began more than three decades ago continues on today in DeCicco Family Markets. Founded in the Bronx, the company now has six locations in New York, one each in Ardsley, Bronxville, Jefferson Valley, New City, Pelham, and Scarsdale.
“The first supermarket started in 1973 and now we serve Rockland and Westchester Counties from our six locations,” said Frank DeCicco, Jr., owner. “Our motto is customer service and its many different aspects.”
Each DeCicco Family Market is different, ranging in size from 8,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet. The stores feature produce, meat, and seafood departments, a bakery, a deli, grocery items, dairy products, and frozen foods. The company also has a catering service that offers hors d’ouerves, plated appetizers, appetizer stations, soups, salads, pasta dishes, main courses, and deserts.
The newest member of the DeCicco Family Markets portfolio opened in 2006 in Ardsley, a Tuscan influenced market. Today, the second generation of DeCiccos is taking the reins from the founders and looking to take the business to new heights in the process.
There is the overlapping feel of a traditional Italian market at each location given the family’s own background, since the first generation of owners were Italian immigrants. The company gets some products imported directly from Italy that conventional supermarkets might not be able to get. That is one of the ways the markets are able to differentiate themselves from the neighborhood competitors. However, every DeCicco Family Market is tailored to best serve the unique characteristics of its community.
“The demographics of the stores are different. Some have a large Jewish or Asian clientele, others a large Irish or Italian clientele. We can gear that store to that community, as opposed to the big chains that run the same products in every store,” DeCicco said. “We have family members at every store, we live in the communities the stores are in, and we talk to the customers. We customize our stores to meet their needs, and if a customer sees an item on TV and comes in asking about it, we will go above and beyond to try to get that item into the store.”
At the same time, the company works to ensure all stores have a selection of organic, low salt, gluten free, sugar free, natural, and low fat foods. “In the past two or three years, the trend is going to more natural and organic products, and we jumped on that right away,” said DeCicco, noting that the New City store is redoing one aisle to make it entirely natural and organic.
DeCicco Family Markets is looking for new ways to take the business forwards, such as getting more and more involved with loyalty programs and gift cards. The company recently gave a laptop computer away to customers using its loyalty card, and it also sends coupons to loyal customers in the mail.
Another area where the company is looking to expand is the Internet. Although DeCicco Family Markets haven’t yet started an online ordering service, customers can go to the DeCicco’s Web site for information on the markets, including a weekly online circular.
“We’re in the process of looking into the pros and cons of online shopping. The younger generation is doing it more and more, but other customers prefer the one-on-one in the store,” said DeCicco. “We’re known for our freshness, and you can’t get a feel for that on a computer screen.”
The organization is also heavily involved in community efforts around each of its locations. Most of its donations go to the local school districts, as DeCicco Family Markets donates 1% of sales to local PTAs.
“We strive for community service,” DeCicco said. “We also have a rebate program where customers can come in, get their receipt stamped, give it to the school or civic organization their children are involved in, and the school or organization can gather the receipts, and we give them a percentage back on the groceries.”
“We like to keep the money in the community because these are the places we grew up,” he continued. “We do a lot with a food bank in New City, and churches and synagogues can buy gift cards at a discounted rate, sell them to parishioners, make a profit for themselves, and we see those customers in the stores.”
As of now, DeCicco Family Markets does not have immediate plans to expand its footprint and open a seventh location. However, the organization is always on the lookout for suitable locations should the right opportunity arise. For the time being, the company is content to reinvest in each location to be sure the floor plans, refrigeration, and computer systems are as efficient as possible.
“In all of our stores, we recently integrated an EDLP program where we worked with our major distributor to come up with methods on lowering pricing, and that has been working well for the last year and a half,” said DeCicco.
DeCicco said people have certainly adjusted their spending habits during the recession and more competitors are constantly entering the grocery market. No matter the direction the organization takes into the future, the spirit of the founding generation will always remain. DeCicco Family Markets are committed providing customers with the same personal attention and care that has been its hallmark since the early 1970s.
“The way we stand out is by offering a different level of service, listening to the customers, and bringing in items they can’t get anywhere else,” DeCicco said. “We listen to our customers and employees to get their feedback, we will keep our costs down on goods as much as we can, and if we continue to do that, we’ll continue to succeed.”