Cingari Family Markets’ Get a Grocery Glow-Up

Above: Mayor Caroline Simmons and the Cingari Family Markets team at the January ribbon-cutting at the Shippan Ave. store.

It must be impossible to be a Stamford resident and not have shopped at one of the four Cingari Family Markets that call our city home. During those sprees it’s equally likely to find oneself singing and dancing down an aisle to the full-of-joy soundtrack bopping through the speakers. Also hard to miss? The successive makeovers making their debuts across the 12 locations the Cingari family owns and operates in Connecticut.

Seasonal bounty stars in the expanded produce section at Cingari Family Markets.

“The best part of our business is being able to constantly build upon the success of the people who came before, and continue to use innovation to extend their legacy,” says Tom Cingari Jr, a vice president at the company.

Sam, Dom, Salvatore and Rocky Cingari at the opening of the Shippan Ave. store in 1960

Following renovations at the Norwalk and Shelton stores, the modernized flagship Shippan Avenue location launched this winter after six months of work—all done after hours so as not to impact customers. The revamp includes updated décor, new lighting and refrigeration across departments, as well as a façade facelift. It all adds up to a “a warmer and friendlier shopping experience,” Cingari Jr. says.

The first Grade A Market in 1943.

A rethink of how to maximize the 45,000-square-foot space resulted in the removal of an entire aisle at the front of the store, the addition of 10 self-checkout lanes and expanded floral and produce departments.

“Older checkout counters with belts take up a significant amount of space. Replacing them with six to eight self-checkout lanes allows us to get people out the door more quickly. At high traffic times we have employees working the self-checkouts to keep things running smoothly,” says Cingari Jr.

A rendering for store designs reflect a warm, modern refresh.

Aside from the fresh aesthetic and layout, the store’s menu of prepared offerings was significantly expanded to better meet customer wishes. The store added 75 new restaurant-quality to-go entrées and sides, plus a wider variety of frozen foods.

The brew shop within the shop has party-ready libations, including seasonal specialties and exclusive collabs.

The six months it took to complete the Shippan Avenue store is typical for the family’s other locations. Next up is the Commerce Street ShopRite, which will be unveiled this month followed soon after by the Newfield Avenue Grade A. Like their sister stores, both will offer new products and additional self-checkout lanes.

The new stores feature expanded bread bars and baked selections.

With knowledgeable, friendly department heads at the ready, one thing that hasn’t changed is the Cingari family commitment to customer service. Parents need not get lost trying to locate their toddler’s favorite yogurt or fret over finding that just-right cut of meat. All of the stores have a member of management on the floor at all times.

“If you have a question there will always be someone to answer it. We pride ourselves on personalized service,” says Cingari Jr.

That company ethos doesn’t just benefit customers, it also keeps employees happy and the long-standing retention rates at Cingari stores are proof of that. Despite the increased efficiency the renos afford, not a single job was eliminated at the completed stores. The company has around 2,500 employees serving roughly 250,000 customers per week.

More self-checkout lanes on the left join traditional counters for increased efficiency.

“We treat our employees as part of our family; we do everything we can to accommodate whatever they may have going on in their personal lives,” says Cingari Jr. “We’ve been in business for close to 100 years. My grandfather [Sam] was the champion of our corporate culture and we’ve always strived to hold onto that family feel.”

A Sustainable Future

Cingari Family Markets Green Team members on a volunteer day

The Cingari Family Markets are working toward a cleaner, greener future in several key ways. In addition to outfitting each location with energy-efficient refrigeration, the company sends unsold food that can’t be donated to be composted or used as animal feed. That amounts to roughly 12,000 tons of diverted waste per year. Green Team store associates not only oversee in-store efforts but also volunteer at beach cleanups and with planting and landscaping efforts at sports fields and nature centers.

Community Leaders

The Cingari Family Foundation makes regular food donations

The mission of the Cingari Family Foundation is to make a positive impact in the communities in which they serve. Over multiple generations, the family has contributed more than $5 million to local organizations. That includes food donations to soup kitchens, pantries, shelters and senior centers, as well as monetary gifts to hospitals, including Stamford and Yale New Haven, and the Cingari Family Boutique at Smilow Cancer Hospital, and also grassroots giving initiated at local stores to support schools, sports teams and more.

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