The Fruit Center Marketplace, run by brothers Michael and Mark Mignosa, has locations in Milton and Hingham. The third-generation family business roots date to when their grandfather had a fruit cart in Boston, and also with Mignosa's Fruit Basket, a branch of the family business in Quincy that was run by a cousin. The Mignosa brothers' father, Don, started Fruit Center Marketplace in the 1970s in Weymouth. We talked to Michael Mignosa for this story.
Q. What makes your stores different from the usual supermarket?
A. We have our own niche for a couple of reasons. We've always been known for quality products with a focus on fresh foods, especially things like produce. One unique thing is we don't use brokers; we're at the produce markets in Chelsea looking at everything before we buy. Not many places do — they use brokers or do it over the phone. We're also known for the service we provide. Our store sizes are smaller, more convenient, and most staff has been there longer than I have.
Q. How is business growth?
A . Increasing in customer counts and dollar sales. We've grown every year for at least the last 12 years. We're entrenched in our communities and have great relationships with our customers, some of them coming in twice a day.
Q. Is it a challenge operating around so many supermarkets?
A. Our Hingham store faced more challenges in terms of competition. There are five supermarkets there, and every time one opened, we felt it in terms of lost business, But every time, our customer base would return in a few months. I think stores like ours are going by the wayside; chains are taking over. We're one of the few left still doing it the old-fashioned way.
Q. How has the business changed?
A. The biggest change is the pace, of the business and people. Everyone's so busy, everything's gone to "grab and go." People aren't cooking as much and are looking for quick, healthy meal solutions, and a lot of our business is geared toward that. Our biggest growth is in prepared foods; we have a large commercial kitchen and prepare meals in-house.
Q. Do you use a lot of local products?
A . We use produce seasonally whenever we can; we have great connections with local farms. And we use places like T.F. Kinnealey in Brockton for meats, and Rocky Neck Fish in Boston. Both are wholesalers and their only retail locations are at our stores.
Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at pkandarian