ELMWOOD PARK, Ill. — After more than half a century operating in the cramped confines of its original location here, Angelo Caputo's Fresh Markets is about to get some breathing room.
A former Circuit City store just two blocks from the store Angelo Caputo opened in 1958 is being remodeled to relocate the independent grocery chain's flagship.
“The biggest reason for taking the new site is that it is three times the store with two times the parking,” said Robertino Presta, chief executive officer of Angelo's and son-in-law of the founder. “We have always had parking issues at that store. This was an opportunity, and we grabbed it.”
The new store, which Presta said he is hopeful will open by year-end, will measure 50,000 square feet and will have double the selling space of the old store.
“We can open it up and offer a little more,” he said.
The store will feature a number of “green” technologies, Presta said, including one of the first glycol and carbon dioxide-based refrigeration systems in the U.S.
Business at the six-store, family-owned chain has held up well in the economic downturn, despite some visible pressures on consumers, Presta said.
“We're always value-driven, and we do a lot in perishables,” he said. “People realize what the value is, but you can see that the same amount of customers are not buying as much. But we're happy with the business.”
He said he hasn't noticed much of an impact from the new price cuts at Chicago-area market leaders Jewel and Dominick's, and agreed with observers who said the chains' pricing might have been out of line in the first place.
“I couldn't fathom lowering my prices 30% — we don't have that [margin] there to begin with,” he said. “I would be ashamed to say I could do it. But they do it, and they get away with it.”