John Cosentino says he still hears stories about the way his family treated customers at its first Kansas City-area supermarket. For example, there was the time his Uncle Jim helped a sick woman carry her groceries home and then stayed to play a song for her on her piano. Cosentino, now vice president of Cosentino’s Food Stores, says that level of customer service has been the backbone of the company’s success from the very beginning, and the family owned and operated grocery store chain continues to be known throughout the city for it.
The company was started in 1948 in a very small store by Cosentino’s uncles Jim and Jerry, and were later joined by their younger brother Dante along with sisters Mickey, Mary and Joyce. Although they struggled at first, the family’s overwhelming commitment to treating customers like royalty soon made them some of the most popular grocers in town. “By doing that, they grew their name and image,” Cosentino says. “That service mentality has grown us to 26 stores.”
The company’s chain of stores consists of a few different concepts, but all feature a devotion to customer service, Cosentino says. The company has 17 Price Chopper locations, four Apple Markets and three Sun Fresh stores, as well as the latest addition to its portfolio, two Cosentino Markets. Cosentino says the new concept is geared toward shoppers in Kansas City’s more affluent areas and features a more upscale selection and design.
With the company’s continued focus on customer service, its family ownership and smart approach to business, Cosentino’s Food Stores has all the pieces in place to be a part of the Kansas City community for another 65 years, Cosentino says. “We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished,” he says.
Cosentino says the company is serious about making sure customers have the best possible freshness and quality, as well. “We’re going to touch every orange and make sure there’s not a mark on them, so we do the special things that customers deserve,” he says. “And we still offer fresh-cut beef and pork in our stores and provide the butcher’s expertise in teaching our customers the best way to use each cut.”
Cosentino says the company is fortunate to have some of the best employees and the best suppliers in the business. “We have great people in our stores, and I think that’s what it’s all about,” he says.
Along with quality and freshness, the stores set themselves apart through the variety of expanded perishables offerings they provide under one roof. Nearly every store the company manages has been renovated recently, and each remodel has added new departments and services. “Every time we remodel, we build bigger and better,” Cosentino says.
It has been important for Cosentino’s Food Stores to add new departments because shoppers’ habits have changed over the years, Cosentino says. Many shoppers today have fragmented their shopping lists and spend a little bit at multiple locations, but Cosentino’s Food Stores wants to make it possible for them to spend more in a single location by giving them more options. “We are trying to get better at making sure they are buying everything from us,” Cosentino says.
It requires a lot of close attention to do what Cosentino’s Food Stores does, and Cosentino says the company’s status as a family operation is what makes that possible. Through the leadership of the founding generation, and the on-going contributions of his brothers Jamie and David, his sisters DeeDee and Denise, and his cousins Donnie, Victor and Jimmy, Cosentino’s Food Stores is poised to continue earning its reputation as the most customer-friendly grocery store chain in Kansas City.
“Once we get customers to that door, we’re going to smother them with service,” Cosentino says.