DANBURY, Conn. -- Several hundred shoppers filled the parking lot of the new ShopRite at 1 Padanaram Road in Danbury early Wednesday morning for the grand opening, ribbon-cutting ceremony — and a chance to grocery shop in a new store.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton was joined by three generations of the Cingari family, who operate the supermarket and own Grade A Market Inc. They have more than 70 years of experience in the supermarket business in Connecticut.
"We are so excited to see this wonderful store. Over 200 people have found employment at this store," Boughton said. "Danbury works because we all work together."
The new ShopRite is in the completely remodeled space of the former A&P Super Foodmart, which closed down last fall.
"We belong to the largest co-op in the country," said Sam Cingari Jr., vice president of Grade A Market. "ShopRite now has 11 stores in Connecticut."
Cingari said he believes people are drawn to ShopRite because the store offers both a good price and good service — and because it's family operated.
"A family-operated organization is a lot better than one that is corporate owned. We have more of an interest in pleasing the customer," he said.
"Price is not everything. Service is what we excel in."
All the owners of ShopRite were born and raised in Stamford, where the store currently has four locations.
Cingari said his late father, Sam Cingari Sr., started ShopRite as a peddler. He opened a grocery store in the neighborhood where he lived in Stamford, in 1943. "He learned the business as he went along.
"I started working at ShopRite at 14 years old. I would come to the store every day after Rogers School (in Stamford). I was put in charge of cutting meat."
He said he never hesitated when his family needed him to pitch in.
"My father and mother needed help in the store. Myself and my two brothers came to help. That was the beginning of a partnership," he said.
The elder Cingari's three sons -- Rocky, Sam and Dom -- eventually took over the business from their father.
Addressing the crowd in front of the store, Rocky Cingari, president of ShopRite, said, "There are four generations working in our company. We are here to help you and provide you with an enjoyable place to shop."
Lifelong Danbury resident Rich Matzinger was impressed with what he saw as he started shopping. "ShopRite gives everyone an inexpensive (choice) to food shopping.
"The store has an open and airy feel. It had excellent lighting, and even the customer service people wore jackets.
"Walking through the store, I am reminded that it's in the former location of my old stomping grounds, which used to be Crown Cinema."
To mark the Aug. 3 grand opening of the Danbury ShopRite, the Cingari family donated $10,000 to the Connecticut Food Bank.
"If my father would see the stores now, he would be amazed," Sam Cingari Jr. said.
The family also operates ShopRite stores in Brookfield, Norwalk, Shelton and Stamford.