New supermarket owner cleans up

| 09 Jul 2015 | 04:07

By Anya Tikka
— Junior Dabashi, owner of the new Key Foods supermarket in Milford Borough, says he's here to stay.

Having grown up in a small community himself, he loves places where everyone knows everybody else.

“It’s a small community and I love it," he said. "I love to know people in the community by name, to say 'Good morning Steve,' 'Good morning Dave.' It’s a good thing.”

Key Foods recently opened in the sprawling building that, in other iterations, was a Grand Union and a Milford Farms.

Dabashi's family in Beacon, N.Y., owns similar stores in Beacon and in New York City. He'll be remodeling the store, raising it to a new, higher standard, as a family effort. Members of his family come to Milford to help.

“We rotate," he said. "It’s not too far to drive, about 45 minutes.”

The remodeling is going to take time because the store is not part of a big chain.

“Nothing happens overnight," he said. "How long, I don’t know. I can’t give a date. It’s a family-owned store. We don’t have millions. We like the store, but it’s in bad condition."

The store has seen its share of trouble with failing freezers and customer complaints. Ice Cold Beer Here occupies the same premises, but it’s not owned by Dabashi family.

“We cleaned up the store — I mean clean, clean," Dabashi said. "And we filled up the shelves, changed the sign outside, and bought new shopping carts. Next week it’s the roof — it’s leaking. And then the parking lot by August."

He said lots of people are giving him positive feedback. They like what they see on the shelves. They like that the store is clean.

“We’re seeing customers coming here for one or two things, and they end up buying the whole shopping cart, because they never thought they’d see something here," he said.

In the plans are adding more organic, natural, and non-GMO foods, including grocery, meat, and produce.

“You have to have what the people want," said Dabashi. "We’ll still have other stuff too, but it’s part of the plan. We copy our store in the city. Everybody is into healthy food now. We’re going to change produce, meat, dairy and frozen food freezers. We had to throw the old ones out. We didn’t replace any of the freezers yet, so we have no frozen stuff yet.”

While the store isn't using local suppliers yet, it’s in Dabashi's plans. For the moment he's using the same suppliers as the other stores because it lowers the costs.

Dabashi said everyone in Milford has been very welcoming, including Farmer’s Market representatives. David Wallace from the Farmer’s Market has been to see him, he said, suggesting they work together.

“We’re happy to be here," Dabashi said. "We are here to help, and to make the customers feel comfortable too. I don’t want them to think, 'These guys come here to change everything around.' We change it to the better.”