For the Corrados, it’s all about family. That’s how, three generations after its founding, the supermarket chain that carries the family’s name remains strong – and growing, with the recent announcement that its next market will be located in Laurel Square in Brick.
It’s the type of store residents of the northern portion of town have been craving for years – not only to fill the gap left by the closing of the former Pathmark store, but because of a lack of fresh food options in the top half of Brick. Corrado’s Market, which operates six stores in North Jersey, is planning to open its seventh location next summer at the site of the former Pathmark.
“We’ve been looking in the Monmouth-Ocean area for a few years now,” said James Corrado, one of the principals of the company his grandfather founded in 1950. “A lot of our customers over the years have moved south, and they were still visiting us every few weeks or few months. At the same time, we’d also have people coming up from that area telling us, ‘we’d love to have you guys down by us.’”
Brick, centrally located at the border of Ocean and Monmouth counties, was “a natural fit,” said Corrado.
The store will be smaller than the Pathmark supermarket it is replacing. Pathmark had about 70,000 square feet of space while Corrado’s will take up about 35,000 square feet. While the store will carry most of what can be found in larger supermarkets, its specialities come in the form of fresh vegetables, meats, fish and other items hand-selected by the family for sale in their stores.
“We pride ourselves on being in the store – you can walk into any Corrado’s Market and find a Corrado,” he said.
James Corrado said the store will focus on a wide selection of specialty foods in addition to standard fare. The family relies on a positive relationship with local New Jersey farmers and fishermen for many of its items, and incorporates foods from a number of cultures – often tailored to the area where it’s located – in the inventory.
“We are of Italian heritage, and when the market first opened it was in a primarily Italian neighborhoods,” said Corrado. “Over the generations, the neighborhoods changed, but what we found is that everyone cooks, everybody enjoys cooking and they use a wide variety of ingredients for different cuisines.”
The selection has made Corrado’s a strong – and rare – family-owned competitor to other supermarkets. But while customers will find fresh items and premium ingredients, it differs from larger chains like Whole Foods.
“We kind of do our own thing,” Corrado said. “We’re not like a Whole Foods because we present more value to our customers than a Whole Foods might. What’s made us successful over the years is giving our customers the best quality products at the best value, and offering hard-to-find items.”
The store today runs on lessons instilled in the Corrado family by its patriarch, James Corrado’s grandfather. A World War II veteran, he took a job as a truck driver and delivered food items to markets across the region. Soon, he began buying some items to sell on his own, before opening a roadside stand and eventually his own store.
“It was all about hustling and working hard, that’s how he did it,” said the younger Corrado. “Eventually he began to bring in different items. Fresh plum tomatoes from South Jersey for sauce, fresh grapes for people who wanted to make wine at home, just like in Italy, Portugal and Spain. Little by little he expanded, and the base was always family – he had his sons and daughter, and everyone pitched in.”
The “buzz has been fantastic” as far as the reaction to the forthcoming Brick location, Corrado said. Now seven stores in, the family has accomplished a major feat: sustaining and growing a family business through multiple generations.
“Our grandfather instilled in us something a very long time ago: ‘As long as the family is strong, the business will thrive.'”