WALLINGFORD — Meriden resident Patrick Perry was inching inside the new ShopRite Wednesday morning. He had been waiting since about 6:30 a.m. He kept pushing his shopping cart, opening the automatic doors while the ribbon-cutting ceremony took place inside the store with employees applauding.
ShopRite owner Don Drust shook his customers’ hands and said hello to loyal shoppers from the old ShopRite just a few minutes up the road as a crowd of about 50 people made their way in to shop.
“There’s a lot of people that were there since day one” at the Meriden ShopRite, which closed Tuesday, Drust said.
Perry got right down to business, filling his cart with rib steaks, olive oil, Klondike Bars and Miracle Whip. The 57-year-old used to work at Pathmark as a grocery manager.
“This is exciting to me, I love shopping. It’s my number one thing to do,” he said.
Drust closed the Meriden ShopRite in Townline Square and opened the new store, about two miles south on Route 5 at 846 N. Colony Road in Wallingford, after ShopRite bought several former Shaw’s Supermarket locations in Connecticut. Drust Markets Inc. was named operator of the new Wallingford store, a former Shaw’s.
The new store includes a pharmacy, bake shop, butcher – which had served 41 customers by 8:42 a.m. – hot food bar, in-store sushi chef and wider aisles.
On the ShopRite’s first day, Wallingford resident Gabriela Gonzalez perused the greeting card section for something for her cousin, Marta.
“She’s turning 72, but she doesn’t look it,” Gonzalez said, before choosing a large card with a purple flower inside. “We’ve been waiting for ShopRite to come down here. It’s very clean, very nice.”
Tracey Rook said she had been going to the Meriden ShopRite for four years. She’d occasionally go to the old Shaw’s, but preferred ShopRite mainly because of its meat prices. She wanted to get her shopping done early as she stood in the meat section before her night shift as a nurse at River View Hospital in Middletown.
Durham resident Regina Kosior said she grew up on ShopRite while she was living in Orange County, N.Y. The 27-year-old had a cart full of chicken, beans and almonds, all foods that helped her stay fit enough to run in last year’s New York City Marathon.
Richard Gagne, 59, was also in the first wave of customers, even though the new store is pretty far away from his home near the Berlin Turnpike. He made his way down Aisle 7 with bagels, corn muffins, Pepsi and Angus beef chuck shoulder London broil steaks in his cart. The independent truck driver left the big shopping for his wife, Carol, to do later in the day.
At the entrance, three employees were giving key cards to customers. One of them said that between 5, 000 and 6,000 are usually given out in the first couple of days a store is open.
Valerie Swahn, of Meriden, said the store is beautiful after Drust handed her a piece of a huge cake with a ShopRite building drawn in frosting. She didn’t think it was a good idea to spoil her appetite, and she got to shopping.
by Eric Heredia