By DANIEL OFFNER
After 27 years in the Chester Heights area, DeCicco’s Family Markets—a family-run chain consisting of 10 full-service supermarkets located throughout Westchester and Rockland counties—will shutter doors this week to its second staple location in Bronxville, after years of financial difficulties.
“We weren’t making the sales like we once did a few years back,” said Josesph DeCicco, owner and manager of the family’s Bronxville supermarket.
According to DeCicco, the business struggled to stay afloat due to its inability to keep its customers and debt accrued to cover the payroll for employees as well as to pay off loans.
But while the decrease in patronage played a substantial role in the company’s ultimate decision, residents living in the Chester Heights area, a neighborhood in Bronxville that borders Eastchester, are in an uproar over the loss of what has become a village mainstay.
“Nobody’s happy, not even me,” said Steve Stillwachs, 69, a retiree living across from the Chester Heights DeCicco’s.
For Stillwachs, the marketplace was a convenience, not only for himself, but many of the residents living along New Rochelle Road.
“It’s a shame,” Stillwachs said. “This is what we need…I hate to see it go.”
Susan Miele, president of the Chamber of Commerce in Bronxville, said that, despite the uproar, the supermarket’s financial difficulties were made even more complicated from increased competition in the area, including Whole Foods, Fairway, and Fresh Market, which pull local patrons away from places like DiCicco’s.
“Because of an influx of alternative shopping opportunities,” Miele said, “they weren’t making enough.”
The chamber also reported that most, if not all, of the Chester Heights DeCicco’s employees will be relocated to other DeCicco’s markets around the county and that a CVS pharmacy is expected to take its place along New Rochelle Road.
“Frankly, there are so many pharmacies around…we don’t need another one,” said Louise Challop, a Mt. Vernon resident.
Challop has done her shopping in the Chester Heights area for years and questioned what the closing of the supermarket will mean for seniors who shopped there.
“It’s sad,” she said. “It has been here a long time.”
Bronx resident Jen Smith, while visiting the store, said she also feels that another CVS at the location would be a bad fit for the shopping community.
“It’s a bad idea,” said Smith, 43. “It’s the only supermarket I can go to from work.”
But despite the disappointment from local patrons, it was the lack of customers that ultimately drove the company to close down the location.
According to Miele, the closing of the Chester Heights DeCicco’s was a lesson learned for local patrons, driving home the point that there are consequences for consumers not showing patronage to their favorite locally-owned stores.
For Mr. DeCicco, he plans to work with his brother at the family’s flagship supermarket in Pelham until he finds something better.
“Now there is going to be a void…but things happen,” DeCicco said. “I am going to miss all the customers and the memories I am going to leave behind.”