Ocean City —
In this day and age, when mom and pop stores have been virtually eliminated by mega-businesses such as Home Depot and Shop Rite, it's nice to find a family run store where one can still enjoy individual service. Palermo's Market at 401 Asbury Ave. is just that.
Palermo's offers groceries, baked goods, fresh coffee, and a small café for customers to chat and enjoy each other's company in the morning. For the summer crowd, Palermo's carries suntan lotions, beach toys, and other accessories.
Palermo's has always been a family-run business. In 1946, after serving two years in a navy construction battalion, Fred Palermo opened the store with his brother Charlie. They were meat-cutters at the time. In those days, grocers dressed in formal white coats and ties. Today, Fred's sons Steve and Joey are largely in charge of managing the store.
The market originally opened at 921 Asbury Ave. It moved to its present location in 1953. A deli was added in 1968.
Fred was born and raised in Ocean City. At 80 years old, he still plays a very active role in the running of the market. Not only does he help organize products and receive deliveries, he also prepares some of the food. "All the cooked goods are cooked by me," he said.
Steve's wife Rose also works at Palermo's. A former casino employee, Rose loves working in the store. "You just don't find a family owned market wherever you go," she said. "You can't go wrong with the things here."
Rose manages the front of the store and does some orders. She married Steve four years ago and has been working in the store ever since.
Palermo's supports local business by buying its products exclusively from farms in South Jersey. "Anything that's grown locally we have," Fred said. "I've been doing business with these guys for forty years."
Blueberries are a particularly popular fruit. "We sell 15,000 pints of blueberries a season," Steve said.
Palermo's also supports the Ocean City community by donating to local organizations and events such as the Humane Society and block parties.
Palermo's is open daily from May until the end of September. In preparation for the summer, the staff empties out the entire store and discards all of the old products. Shelves are cleaned and fresh goods are shipped and put out. "Everything is new each year," Fred said. "It's the quality and personal touch."
Fred is proud of his self-employment. However, like all businesses, the store requires constant care to meet the needs of its costumers. In Fred's opinion, tough competition from supermarkets like Genuardi's and Acme represents the only real threat to the store. "The worst part's the electric bill," he said jokingly.
Palermo's has regular customers from both around town and out of state. Tourists returning to Ocean City each summer also return to Palermo's. Kieth Fowler, a resident of York Haven, Penn., has been shopping at Palermo's every summer for five years.
"It has a little bit of everything," he said.
Bill and Allison Marcovitz from Valley Forge, Penn., come to Ocean City once every week for six months out of the year. They've been customers of Palermo's for 50 years. Allison, who used to be a deli manager, claims that the deli at Palermo's is of a very high quality. The couple likes the family atmosphere at the store.
"You get individual service," Allison said.
Louis Mazzarella, a lifetime resident of Ocean City, also loves going to Palermo's. "It's a clean, friendly operation," he said. "It's been very successful." Mazzarella likes the fresh vegetables and the family aspects of the store.
"It's a friendly, family store," Mazzarella said. "That's the big thing."