The way the owner of five grocery stores in the state looks at Sept. 21's opening of the 59,0000-square-foot ShopRite on Route 80 is, "it's a big win-win for East Haven.
"It's a win for shoppers," said Harry Garafalo, "because for years I've heard from people who live in East Haven that they really wish they had a ShopRite store to shop in. Also, a majority of the 250 people we hired to work at this store, are from this marketplace."
The store opens in the former A&P location, which closed in October 2010. The ShopRite store will be larger, however, as it has expanded its footprint into neighboring empty stores.
The store opened with a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony at the newly re-named ShopRite Plaza at 745 Foxon Road on Sept. 21. Right after the ceremonies, the store opened for business.
Mayor Joseph Maturo, who attended the ribbon cutting, said, "East Haven is proud to welcome ShopRite to town, and especially to the Route 80 corridor. ShopRite's arrival will be an enormous economic boost for the community, will provide hundreds of new job opportunities, and will complement the wonderful businesses currently operating on and around Route 80."
"This is a great opportunity for my family and me to share the ShopRite experience with the East Haven community," said Garafalo, president of Milford Markets. "We look forward to bringing the same level of customer service, variety, value, and low prices that we offer in our other ShopRites to this new location."
The Garafalo family also runs ShopRite stores in Milford, Stratford, West Haven, and Hamden.
Garafalo said he is proud of the fact that, he said, his company has a good reputation for taking care of its workers.
"We are a union store, with strong health and benefit packages and competitive salaries," he said, adding that while the store hired 250 people to work at the new location, "We had 1,500 applications."
Garafalo said he also plans to give back to East Haven, pointing out he has already taken an active part as a sponsor of East Haven's Fall Festival and VVA Fireworks-Beach Party community events.
On a recent day, passersby took in last-minute work at the store, and many said they can't wait to begin shopping. At the nearby Ocean State Job Lot store, workers there said they were looking forward to shopping at ShopRite during their work breaks.
Garafalo said other nearby stores on Route 80 will benefit from ShopRite's opening.
"Our store will bring a lot of people, traffic to this business corridor," he said.
Garafalo, who was born and lives in Milford, began running his first ShopRite in 1992. He said the new East Haven store is outfitted with the latest energy-saving and sustainable technologies in refrigeration and lighting, including LED and T-8 lighting and environmentally friendly refrigerant
In addition to a broad array of groceries and fresh produce, the supermarket includes custom-cut fresh meats, fresh seafood, a full-service floral department, a bake shop that can create custom wedding cakes, a pharmacy, as well as a selection of ethnic foods, including a diverse section of groceries from around the world. Natural and organic products will be available, as will gluten-free items.
ShopRite officials said, coming soon, there will be a ShopRite from Home service, offering customers an option to place their grocery orders online from a computer or mobile device and then schedule either in-store pickup or home delivery.
"We had always envisioned East Haven being a really good market for us," Garafalo said. "We think it's a market that's under-served and we thought this was a real good spot for us to expand our business.
"We look forward to becoming a part of the East Haven community and have appreciated all the positive comments about our project and the warm welcome we have received from everyone in town," he added.