Northampton’s Serio’s Market to Close by Week’s End
The Daily Hampshire Gazette, March 6, 2017,
The owners of Serio’s Market, a local institution open for more than a century, announced the store’s imminent closure on social media Monday morning.
“The dismal winter sales paired with three large pieces of equipment breaking down within one week of each other made us realize it’s time,” the statement read. “Honestly we have no choice.”
Founded in 1902, the market’s doors will close for a final time at 6 p.m. Friday, according to the announcement. Until the closure, the business will run as usual with the exception of closing two hours early each night.
At the store Monday afternoon, store manager Jaimie Golec shared tearful hugs with longtime regulars just hearing of the news.
Emotions are running high because the store has been around a long time, she said, and people came for more than the food.
“I’ve met some really amazing people,” she said. “It made me keep fighting.”
In the end, she said dwindling sales sunk the ship — “$1,000 in sales for the day, that’s not gonna cut it” — and $10,000 in equipment failure in one week served as “nails in the coffin.”
Kurt DeCarolis said while shopping at the deli counter if he won the lottery he would give it all to save Serio’s.
“The only meat I throw on my grill is from this place,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll find somewhere else to buy meat, but it won’t be the same. Times change.”
End of an era
Above the meat counter, a week’s worth of daily soup specials was still on display Monday. Even with the impending closure, customers still filtered in before lunch picking up meals, old favorites and party platters.
Without a car, Sarah Hougen said the market has been an essential place to have right around the corner.
“I love that it was right downtown,” she said.
As a high school student in the 1960s, Denny Nolan worked as a stock boy at the market. Decades later, Nolan still shops at Serio’s and has fond memories of years gone by.
“It’s like everything else,” Nolan said. “Nothing lasts forever — the Romans are gone, the Greeks are gone…”
Nolan stopped at the market Monday morning to pick up a platter of sandwiches and treats for his wife who was hosting a group of women at their home. Whenever her turn came around to host, Nolan said, they’d get sandwiches at Serio’s.
“I wish them all well. It’s tough on the staff,” Nolan said. “He’s worked so hard, Gary (Golec.)”
Sitting in her car outside of the market, Amiee Ross said she used to live down the street from the market.
“Everybody who always worked here was very nice,” Ross said. “I just wish everybody the best of luck.”
While Ross said her usual order was ribs, she also raved about Serio’s macaroni and cheese. With four more days of business to take advantage of, Ross said she would be making a few extra stops to get more of her favorites.
The market will also be open Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. for those interested in purchasing a piece of Serio’s memorabilia. Money from the sale will be used to help pay off local vendors, according to the Facebook post.
Since owner Gary Golec’s wife, Christina Cavallari, died in 2014, the shop faced an uphill battle in light of the sudden loss and because of financial issues that were only uncovered following Cavallari’s death.
Serio’s announced in November that it faced mounting debt after a wholesaler filed a complaint in Northampton Superior Court, seeking payment for services. Last week, Gary Weiner, of Weiner Law Firm, P.C., of Springfield, filed for a default judgment against Gary and Jaimie Golec for their alleged failure to pay $32,349 to Bozzuto’s Inc. of Cheshire, Connecticut, as well as $2,274 in lawyer fees and $1,351 in interest.
November’s announcement prompted community efforts to save the store, including a “cash mob” event hosted by the Northampton Radio Group in January that encouraged customers to patronize the business, as well as a GoFundMe page set up for contributions.
Jaimie Golec said Bozzuto’s complaint was “not a factor” in the Golecs’ decision to close. “It wouldn’t have closed us,” she said.
The neighboring Serio’s Pharmacy remains a successful and viable business, said John Serio, the grandson of Serio’s founders Joseph and Maria Serio.
Though the Serio family owns the building that houses both the market and pharmacy, a building constructed in the late 1940s, Serio said there are no plans to expand the pharmacy into the soon-to-be-vacant space.
“Our family has appreciated all of the citizens of Northampton all these years,” Serio said. “The business was an essential component of Northampton for many, many years.”
As Golec spoke to the Gazette Monday, customers interjected with lingering hugs and glossy-eyed goodbyes. She said that’s been the theme of the day.
“They come up to the counter and you can see their lip starts quivering,” she said. “It’s hard.”
All the crying and the hugging is intense, she said, but also needed. She said she couldn’t bear the thought of closing outright without giving people in the area time to say goodbye.
“I feel I owe the community a lot more than that,” she said, her eyes tearing up.
Golec said their inability to keep the small shop afloat is a sign that “times change.”
“Where am I going to get my lovely fresh meat?” asked Elaine Wert, who lives in neighboring Michael’s House, after giving Golec a hug. She said she’s been “spoiled rotten” by Serio’s staff over the years.
Golec said she’ll miss the physical store, but saying goodbye to all the familiar faces is the hardest part.
“There’s already been a lot of tears,” she said. “It’s gonna be a rough week.”