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Belmont Market GM: ‘Customer Service Makes Us Who We Are’

Belmont Market

Belmont Market in Wakefield, Rhode Island, started as a fruit stand 75 years ago with owner Vincent “Cy” Siravo and his son, Vincent Jr. “Jack” Siravo, that eventually became a wholesale fruit delivery business. 

Shawn Merino

Jack Siravo added grocery retail to the wholesale fruit business, “where both companies operate out of the same location and work together in a symbiotic relationship,” said Shawn Marino, general manager of Belmont Market.

Marino came to the store after 24 years in the restaurant industry. From there, he had started a seafood processing business with a partner who owned a seafood wholesale business (Chesapeake Crab Co). 

About nine years ago, Marino said, “An opportunity came, and we bought out the seafood department within Belmont Market to turn [it] around and correct some issues. This started my career with grocery.”

Since that time, he bought out his partner and is sole owner of Chesapeake Seafood Co. He was also hired to take over and run another department within Belmont. 

“Last year, they asked me to be the new store manager…in grocery years, I do not have a long-term career, but I do bring a lot of restaurant, hospitality, seafood and food licenses and background.”

Marino said everything at Belmont Market is “hands on,” which differentiates it from competitors. The company does not believe in self-checkout registers. “It’s all hands on-deck.”

The market’s full-service meat and seafood department will cut anything to a customer’s specifications. 

“Everyone we hire is here to go above and beyond to help guide and give a customer the best experience in a grocery store. Customer service makes us who we are.”

According to Marino, labor remains the No. 1 issue at Belmont Market. 

“Even though we are very competitive with pay and flexible hours, finding help is an ongoing event,” he said. “The help we do have are exceptional individuals. They always stay and work just a little bit longer and harder.”

Supply chain issues have improved post-pandemic, and the market has been able to stay fully stocked, for the most part.

“Belmont carries a lot of specialty items, and those can be the most difficult,” Marino said. “Most processing businesses lowered their production amounts or discontinued specialty items due to the availability of ingredients…that’s all about supply and demand, as well as the ongoing logistics of the world.”

Inflation has made it more difficult for independent retailers than larger chains. “It’s all about volume and buying power to get the lower prices…it is very hard to be a single store with so many big fish.”

Belmont began offering online ordering – delivery and pickup – for the Block Island area several years ago, using Rosie and Instacart. During the pandemic, the store expanded its online services.

“It has helped us reach our customers that are not able to visit us as frequently…we do try not to leave any customer behind, and this is the next best way to service our area,” Marino said.

The company is looking into a store renovation, as well as a small expansion. It would like to focus more on produce, which is a staple, and is looking at the growth of grab-and-go offerings and hot prepared foods.

 

Belmont Market is a staunch supporter of the Wakefield community. Marino noted that Brian McConnell, the original general manager who continues to work part time at Belmont, has a “huge heart” for supporting local organizations.

Marino said one thing he has learned from owner Jack Siravo and McConnell is that Belmont is a business built on the “shoulders of not only the owner and GM but on the backbones of the managers and staff.” 

Being an independent grocer allows the market to do more for the community and its customers than large chain stores, Marino added.

“We can make decisions for the store at a moment’s notice without all the red tape, order single items for a customer request. Our managers have the freedom to change what they need to better the store. We can make decisions that we believe in our heart are for the best of Belmont Market.”

Read more market profiles from The Shelby Report.

About the author

Treva Bennett

Senior Content Creator

After 32 years in the newspaper industry, she is enjoying her new career exploring the world of groceries at The Shelby Report.

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