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Talking Turkey (and Business): Q&A With DeCicco Grocery Chain Owner


Thanksgiving is a busy time in the supermarket business, as John DeCicco knows all too well. DeCicco, along with his brothers John and Chris and his cousin Joe DeCicco, are the second-generation owners of DeCicco Family Markets, a unique small chain of seven grocery stores in New York and Connecticut.

Started as a Bronx meat market by John DeCicco’s father and his uncle, the company has grown into a grocery and specialty chain to be reckoned with. The company currently has between 400 to 500 employees.

DeCicco told BusinessNewsDaily about the stores’ specialties and how the company has managed to compete in retail sector dominated by super stores.

BND: How do you manage to compete on price with the big retailers?

J.D.: We’ve been doing well. We work closely with our supplier and they’ve been able to give us good prices to help us compete with big stores.

BND: Is Thanksgiving your busiest holiday?

J.D.: Actually, Christmas is. Thanksgiving is our second-biggest. Our most popular products are our homemade foods: cranberry sauce, our own stuffing, our own stuffed mushrooms. A lot of people like to cook the main part of the meal and buy the rest. And, of course, turkeys are a big seller.

BND: Do you give free turkeys?

J.D.: We offered two promotions. The first was for $25 off for customers who had spent $ 1,000 in the past four weeks. The other is that we offered low-priced turkeys. Our best selling turkey is our all-natural, hormone-free turkey.

BND: Do you specialize in organic foods?

J.D.: The reason we’ve been able to do so well is because we are a combination of Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and traditional grocery stores. We have all the organic and natural foods, our own cooked foods, a growing gluten free category, plus a lot of locally sourced foods. The growing foodie culture has been asking for rarer and harder-to-find items. But we also have all the items you’d find in a regular grocery store. We also have a large kosher section.

BND: How do you fit all that in your stores?

J.D.: Our biggest store, which we just opened, is 12,000 square feet. We are constantly restocking shelves. Labor is a huge cost for us. We are also trying to merchandise local items together in one “local” section- local section. Each produce manager finds products to source locally – cheeses, produce, pastas.

BND: Why do you think Christmas is such a big holiday for you?

J.D.: Well, it’s really two holidays in one. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And, we have a lot of Italian customers and it’s a big holiday for them in terms of food.

BND: Does DeCicco’s have a company holiday party?

J.D.: We try to – every other year.

Jeanette Mulvey

Jeanette has been writing about business for more than 20 years. She has written about every kind of entrepreneur from hardware store owners to fashion designers. Previously she was a manager of internal communications for Home Depot. Her journalism career began in local newspapers. She has a degree in American Studies from Rutgers University. Follow her on Twitter @jeanettebnd.