PLAINVILLE – Big Y World Class Market celebrated the completion of eight months of renovations to their Plainville store Friday.
The event was attended by the president and CEO of Big Y, Charles D’Amour, and other executives. From the town side, Town Manager Robert E. Lee, Assistant Town Manager Shirle Osle, Town Planner Garrett Daigle and Economic Development Director Cal Hauburger were present. State Sen. Henri Martin and state Rep. William Petit presented citations on behalf of the Connecticut General Assembly. Local veterans from VFW Post 574 and active service members from several Big Y locations were present for the flag salute and the singing of the national anthem.
Store director Mark Zimkiewicz explained that Big Y remained open during the renovation period. Now customers can find lower shelves, expanded meat, produce and seafood offerings, more organic foods, a full service wing bar and more.
Samantha Knapp, employee services field manager, introduced the guests and explained that Big Y understands the importance of working with local farms and growers and carrying area products. She thanked town residents for supporting Big Y, and the store’s department managers and employees who kept it running efficiently throughout the renovation. The department managers would later cut a cake instead of a ribbon to celebrate the “grand re-opening.”
Knapp also shared the history of Big Y. It was first founded by Paul and Gerry D’Amour as “Y Cash Market” in the Willimansett section of Chicopee, Mass, where two roads converged to form a Y. In 1952, the brothers opened their first supermarket, which was 10,000 square feet. The Plainville Supermarket, at 275 New Britain Ave., today is 54,000 square feet and is one of 71 Big Y locations in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Knapp also said Big Y had been named by Forbes as one of the best in-state employers in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Charles D’Amour, son of Gerry D’Amour, said the renovated location is “terrific.” He said the store was “long overdue” for upgrades.
“We call ourselves Big Y World Class Markets not to be arrogant, but to honor my father and uncle’s legacy and dedication to providing quality products and unrivaled customer service,” said D’Amour. “We work hard every day to take care of our customers.”
Petit thanked D’Amour for Big Y’s continued charitable support of the local community. Martin said that, as a small business owner himself, he understands what it takes to build a reputation like Big Y has.
“You have become a part of the fabric of people’s lives,” he said.
Petit then read a citation from the Connecticut General Assembly which congratulated Big Y on the renovation and commended them for providing high quality products and for their community outreach efforts.
Town Council Chair Kathy Pugliese said it was “fascinating” to learn the history of Big Y and said that she and her neighbors shop there frequently.
“I love that the shelves are lower – it’s an amazing idea to let people reach things,” she joked. “The store is remarkable and sets a gold standard of what people can expect when they do their shopping.”
Pugliese praised Big Y for being supporters of the town’s annual downtown PumpkinFest, which will be Oct. 19 this year, donating food and beverages for the event. Petit, Martin and Pugliese were presented with re-usable bags filled with products from Big Y to demonstrate the company’s support of the environment.
Jason Jakubowski, president and CEO of Foodshare, was also presented with a $1,000 check in celebration of the completed renovation. Knapp explained that Big Y is a strong supporter of local food pantries.
“Charlie, your company is amazing,” said Jakubowski. “We could not do what we do today without you. We support 118,000 people in the Hartford and Tolland County areas and you are one of our biggest donors.”
D’Amour noted that food waste is a big problem in the U.S. and said Big Y has found ways to partner with local pantries to “rescue” food that would otherwise be thrown out but is still edible and get it into the hands of the needy.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.