Stop & Shop Hires 150 Workers—All From City

Melissa Bailey PhotoFormer Shaw’s worker Darious Goodman is back stocking shelves at his old haunt, as Dwight’s shuttered supermarket prepares to reopen in two weeks with a new name—and a 100 percent-local crew of employees.

Goodman (pictured), who lives nearby on Goffe Street, was one of 100 workers who lost their jobs when Shaw’s supermarket closed its doors one year ago, turning the greater Dwight area into a “food desert.”

After a year without steady employment, Goodman has returned to the supermarket to begin stocking the shelves of a new Stop & Shop.

The supermarket has hired 150 workers so far, all of them from New Haven, according to store manager Anne Demchak. Most of the workers are part-time.

Demchak shared that news on a tour of the store at 150 Whalley Ave., which buzzed with jackhammers, drills and the crackle of boxes being unpacked. The long-empty parking lot was packed full of workers’ vans.

The store is set to open April 15 at 6 a.m. It will be open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Goodman walked into the supermarket parking lot midday Thursday after his latest shift. He said he started last Wednesday putting merchandise back on the shelves. He plans to be stocking everything, “from baby diapers to lasagna.”

“I’m excited. I live close, and I’m one of the experienced grocery workers here.”

Inside the store Wednesday afternoon, one of Goodman’s coworkers sat down to get fingerprinted for her new job. A trio of young adults placed Dawn dish detergent on a shelf. A middle-aged man bent down with a roll of Bounty paper towels, reading a piece of paper to figure out the right spot.

The new workforce is drawn from the neighborhood, from social service agencies—and entirely from New Haven, Demchak said.

Demchak (at left in photo with Sheila Masterson and Cynthia Streeter), who’s 65, worked her way up the Stop & Shop chain after starting out as a bologna slicer 30 years ago. She managed the Amity store for nine years before taking on her current gig. A New Haven native from the Criscuolo family, she grew up on Oakley Street in the Annex and attended Fair Haven and Woodward schools before moving to East Haven. She sits on the board of the Connecticut Food Bank. When Shaw’s closed, she lobbied hard to get Stop & Shop to buy it—and to choose her as the manager.

When she took over Store #2633 in the abandoned Shaw’s plaza, she determined to make it a “community store.”

In choosing her new crew of stockers and checkout clerks, Demchak reached out to a range of local groups.

Her first priority, Demchak said, was to hire back people who had worked at Shaw’s and hadn’t found new employment—workers like Goodman.

Goodman said he had worked at Shaw’s for about nine months when the store closed. The 30-hour-a-week-job was his main source of income.

“I was upset,” he said. “I had just started working there.”

Over the last year, he did some occasional temp work in Hartford, but failed to find a steady job. Earlier this year, he heard that Stop & Shop was hiring. He applied, and got hired back.

After reaching out to Shaw’s workers, Demchak hit the social service agencies in the Dwight area. She hired five people from Fellowship Place, a facility for adults recovering from severe mental illness that’s just down the street. She hired five each from Chapel Haven and Marrakech and two through Easter Seals/ Goodwill.

Her next step was to seek out people who had looked for work through the job centers at New Haven libraries and through JUNTA for Progressive Action. She made more hires from the APT Foundation, which helps ex-cons reenter society, and the Youth Development Group.

Then Demchak opened up hiring to the general public. Her staff interviewed 800 people in the course of two days, then shut off the flow of job-seekers. So far, they’ve received 3,000 applications online.

Demchak said she ended up hiring 150 people.

“Everybody we hired is from New Haven,” Demchak said. “There’s enough out-of-work people in New Haven,” she explained, that there was no need to look outside city lines.

All the new hires go through a four-hour orientation, which covers topics like handling spills and sexual harassment. Then they go out to other Stop & Shop stores for training. New cashiers shadow an experienced worker, then start ringing up customers themselves once they’re comfortable.

The group of hires includes eight or nine youths, Demchak said.

As Demchak spoke Wednesday in an upstairs meeting room, two workers came up to heat up their lunches in a microwave. Another came to get fingerprinted for a background check. Most of the workers were out getting trained in other stores, Demchak said.

Meanwhile, about 50 contractors set to work installing industrial-size freezers and an island for the salad bar. Demchak led a small group on a tour through the action. The tour-takers included three members of the so-called Dwight-Edgewood-West River Promise Neighborhood Planning Team Executive Committee, which held a get-to-know-you meeting on the second floor of the supermarket Wednesday afternoon. The group is run by Linda Townsend-Maier, executive director of the Greater Dwight Development Corporation, which owns the plaza and negotiated the deal to move Stop & Shop move into the space.

Demchak led the group past the site of the new People’s Bank, self-checkout lanes and a sushi counter. Some shelves were already stocked with Stop & Shop brand sea salt rice cakes; others held Fruit Gushers and Advil. Demchak pointed to the spot that will become a kosher bakery and a kosher cold-cut section.

“When you put kosher, can you write halal?” asked Dixwell activist Cordelia Thorpe. She suggested it would be “friendly wording” for Muslims in the area.

The tour ended in the dairy section, which is equipped with roller-blinds in case of a loss of refrigeration.

“This is so nice, Anne,” gushed Townsend-Maier. “I am so in love!”

In effort to be a good community partner, the store will pilot a nutrition program this summer with the New Haven libraries, announced Kate Walton (pictured), a part-time associate in charge of the initiative. The program will be an extension of one that Stop & Shop tried out last year at the Wexler-Grant school, she said. There will be a combination of workshops on nutrition, light snacks, “robust” snacks for kids who spend several hours in the library in the summer and may not get dinner at home that night.

“We are a for-profit business,” Demchak explained, “but I am also a non-profit person and a community supporter.”

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posted by: roger huzendubel on March 31, 2011  3:29pm

i dont go to grocery stores much but i do love to go to stop and shop. they are very clean and have the best produce (HONEYCRISP apples !!!) and they hired from the city. i just hope theft doesnt kill them like it did shaws. Welcome, please open soon.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 31, 2011  3:48pm

We are a for-profit business,” Demchak explained, “but I am also a non-profit person and a community supporter

Profit for Business alright.Wait until the community sees there prices.

posted by: theresatwist on March 31, 2011  3:52pm

this is indeed good news for dwight. but in order to be a “good community partner”, stop and shop needs to get these workers on full-time jobs and benefits, and not merely hire them on a low-wage part-time basis.

posted by: Ethan on March 31, 2011  4:02pm

I am so happy Stop & Shop will be open in just two weeks!  That is great for the community, especially due to the fact that they’ve hired 150 employees - ALL LOCAL!!  By the way, to the first commenter, theft is not the reason why the Shaws supermarket closed on Whalley.  The entire corporation went out of business, thus shutting down all of its stores.

posted by: @ Roger on March 31, 2011  4:07pm

Where are you getting your information? Theft did NOT kill Shaws. The Shaws brand closed ALL the Connecticut stores. It had nothing to do with theft.

posted by: One who remembers on March 31, 2011  4:51pm

Make sure you put the Bottle Room behind the store and not by the entrance….if anyone remembers the wonderful neighborhood vagrants who loiter there on a daily basis…not a pretty sight.

posted by: browser on March 31, 2011  5:33pm

to @ Roger:
Other Shaws markets were bought up and reopened long before this one.  Roger isn’t the only poster to surmise that shoplifting, pilferage, and/or theft of some other kind had something to do with the lack of immediate interest in this particular store.
That said, I wish the new owners and management well.  They are certainly on the right track to create a great anchor to that section of Whalley Avenue.

posted by: This is good on March 31, 2011  5:38pm

Given how high unemployment remains in the nation, state, region, and city, this is good news & it does seem Stop & Shop put the right woman in place as GM.  According to the most recent (Feb 2011) stats, there are 31,324 adults in the New Haven labor market area unemployed and looking for work, 8,010 in the city limits alone. So this is good—especially if its a way for a good number of these 150 to get track record & traction for future upward movement @ Stop & Shop or elsewhere so this is not their last stop.

posted by: Ben on March 31, 2011  6:12pm

This is excellent. 150 workers hired from within New Haven and they went to the social service agencies first.  WOW!

posted by: Anderson Scooper on March 31, 2011  6:19pm

This is so much better for Stop & Shop than the effective red-lining that has been in place for over a decade.

Thank you Stop & Shop! I look forward to visiting Whalley Avenue for all my groceries!

posted by: Shaking My Head on March 31, 2011  6:27pm

Stop and Shop hires 150 New Haveners and the New Haven Independent peanut gallery still isn’t satisfied.

Be happy 150 people have jobs!

posted by: Point of Order on March 31, 2011  6:58pm

3/5

Stop and Shop’s prices will be slightly higher than some supermarkets. Do you want to know why. They have a unionized workforce and pay proper benefits. Every so often they have contract disputes that are resolved. They are predominantly located in the suburbs, so suburban town residents get jobs with proper benefits. Do you wonder why working people want to move to the suburbs. Employers there treat their workers better.

New Haven should feel honored with their stepping in to the breach left by Shaws. They can be looked upon as a much better corporate citizen than the DeStefano administration which is intent on union busting. We all complain about high taxes, but what goes around comes around. New Haven is disadvantaged by it’s Tammany Hall style of politics.

posted by: newhavenpatriot on March 31, 2011  7:04pm

Very cool!  When I was living on Whalley up in Westville, I always wished that Shaw’s was a Stop and Shop.  S&S is so much cleaner and nicer than any of the other supermarket chains, in my experience.  Best of luck to the new store, and maybe they can open one up in downtown.  Not a lot of room to put one downtown, but the folks there sure could use a supermarket.

posted by: Lifer on March 31, 2011  7:22pm

“Most of the workers are part-time.”
How many will qualify for benefits?

posted by: JB on March 31, 2011  7:26pm

I’ll be there.  I’m excited to have a large grocery again.

posted by: SBJ on March 31, 2011  8:18pm

I hope S&S does a better job of training their employees than did Shaw’s. The employees at Shaw’s were often surly, unhelpful and seemed resentful that they had to do their jobs. We continued to shop there anyway, but it was very annoying.

posted by: Joe on March 31, 2011  9:49pm

Though I moved away from the neighborhood last year, I’m really happy that a decent supermarket is going on. And, Melissa, you sure know how to tell a story!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 31, 2011  9:56pm

posted by: Point of Order on March 31, 2011 7:58pm
3/5

Stop and Shop’s prices will be slightly higher than some supermarkets. Do you want to know why. They have a unionized workforce and pay proper benefits. Every so often they have contract disputes that are resolved. They are predominantly located in the suburbs, so suburban town residents get jobs with proper benefits. Do you wonder why working people want to move to the suburbs. Employers there treat their workers better.

Shoprite has a union.Check there prices.Much lower then stop and shop.

posted by: che on March 31, 2011  10:35pm

@ SBJ, I totally agree with you. I hope that out of the 3,000 applicants of which they hired 150, hopefully they have better manners and less attitude and grateful to have a job. There are too many people out there looking for work to have some ghetto fabulous attitude at your employment. Even with the higher prices at the S&S in Amity at least I do not feel the snappy clerks there. Its just a lack of respect. And everyone, no matter what neighborhood they live in deserve to be respected when you bring your money to your business.

posted by: Edgehood on April 1, 2011  7:14am

Theft at the old Shaws was probably a big reason that it closed. I think that it is important to say this because, once the dust settles, it could easily happen again. Supervalue sold sixteen out of the eighteen Connecticut stores that it owned, eleven to Shoprite and five to Stop & Shop, but after looking at the books, no one would touch the Shaws store. Lets not sugar coat it. Plenty of businesses have been done in by theft in New Haven. Why did the very busy McDonalds and Burger King restaraunts downtown close years ago…?? I don’t know how it was done, but it is obvious…all three places were constantly packed with customers but not profitable…??
Ms. Demcheck sounds like a wonderful lady and her heart is definitely in the right place, but she will be put to a hard test trying to keep that place straight over the years. No one should go to sleep on this issue…it is very important.

That said, this is wonderful news and a great story. I am very happy to see this positive step being taken and I’ll be there shopping…!! Thanks and ‘good luck’ to all involved…!!

posted by: streever on April 1, 2011  8:53am

I keep hearing a refrain from business owners that “New Haven needs more parking for employees”—not when companies start smart and hire local. Kudos to Stop & Shop for making a smart decision.

I hope they put in some secured bike parking for their neighborhood employees.

posted by: anon on April 1, 2011  8:57am

Edgehood, Roger, et al., you are speculating about the reasons why Shaw’s closed.  Your speculative argument fails for three reasons:

1) There are many grocery stores, and other stores, in urban areas around the country. Many of them have higher loss rates than the chain-wide averages, yet they all manage to be extremely profitable and crowded.

2) There are many, far simpler explanations about why Shaw’s was not reopened as another chain store when the entire corporation shut down. One is that the property and lease itself has what is, for New England, an unusual ownership structure—it is not a suburban big box, it is a community-owned development similar to many of those found in larger cities like NYC and Chicago. Another is that there are already other Stop and Shops located within a few miles of the former Shaw’s location. Chains do not always like to compete against themselves, and in some cases they have franchise-related legal documents that take time to change before a store can open within a certain radius of an existing store.

3) You have absolutely no evidence to back up your assertions.

posted by: robn on April 1, 2011  9:05am

Anne Demchak is currently my new favorite hero.

posted by: Good for New Haven on April 1, 2011  12:34pm

This is great news and kudos to Anne Demchak! Best of luck to you and your new employees.

In response to those of you harping on the theft issue, don’t you think that if this was a real issue - and I’m not saying it wasn’t - that Stop & Shop probably factored this into their decision when negotiating the contract? It would seem to me that it’s in everyone’s best interest - including Stop & Shop’s - that this store succeeds, so they’ve probably thought long and hard about security and anti-theft measures.

As a downtown grocery market neighboring the Yale campus, Shaws served a lot of different demographics, not just those who according to you might be prone to stealing, which is an insulting insinuation. If theft was as bad as you make it out to be, why would Stop & Shop have bought now when they had the opportunity to purchase it when Shaws closed? I think Anon raises a good point about the store may not wanting to compete against itself. Maybe after a year or so of analyzing profitability at the neighboring chains in Amity, Hamden-Putnam, Hamden-Skiff, and East Haven, Stop and Shop may have felt that it could sustain a location on Whalley. Some or most of those chains saw an increase in patrons - the store at Skiff Street in particular is extremely busy at even what seems like off peak times and I’ve seen Yale buses there too. After all, if another market did buy the Shaws on Whalley, and people stopped going out to the suburban Stop & Shops because there was a market closer to them owned by a competitor, then that would have been a loss for Stop & Shop.

posted by: Edgehood on April 1, 2011  2:30pm

@anon
You have no hard evidence to back up your assertions, either.

@Good for New Haven
I am not suggesting that the customers steal.

If you haven’t seen local businesses go under because of employee theft, then you haven’t been paying attention. Poor folks can be extremely clever. Sorry for the ugly facts…I am only pointing this out because I want see them succeed.

posted by: BA on April 1, 2011  6:58pm

Can anyone confirm the rumor that there was an application for employment from a John DeStefano. Surely there can’t be two of them One is too many. The story goes its dawned on him he can’t run the city and is looking for something more in line with his abilities.

posted by: juli on April 2, 2011  10:13am

to “lifer” & “there’s a twist”:

in the previous article on stop & shop opening here, “Demchak explained that all the 135 to 140 new hires will work part time at first. It’s the Stop & Shop way, with those aspiring to make the store more of a career earning themselves promotion to full time.”

posted by: Morris Cove Mom on April 2, 2011  10:04pm

Finally!  I still don’t understand why SS&S didn’t see what a great location/business opportunity this was in the first place.

@Streever: right on.  Now tell the BOE to put bike racks in front of every school, and see what you can do!

posted by: Tracey on April 7, 2011  9:34pm

I think that Stop and Shop is hiring local is great news.  I hope they carry that gangsta bread Whole G.

posted by: HELEN C. POWELL-KING on April 13, 2011  12:56pm

TO THE READERS:WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD OUR STOP&SHOP;,HAS FILLED OUR EMPTY SPOT WHERE SHAWS LEFT. IS FINALLY OPEN AND ALL THOSE WHO TALKED ABOUT THEFT SHAW’S WASN’T KILLED BY THEFT THEY WANTED TO CLOSE ALL CT STORE’S.AND
THE BUSNIESS NOW IS GOING FULL AHEAD WITH NEW
ATTITUDE WITH NEW MANAGER.ANN DEMCHAK IS AN VERY OUT GOING WOMAN FOR THE COMMUNITY,GIVING
SUPPORT TO THE COMMUNITY NON-PROFIT’S ORGANIZATIONS THAT NEED HELP.ANN,HAS HIRED SOME
NEIGHBORHOOD RESIDENT’S WITH EXPERIENCE AND GIVING EVERYBODY AN FAIR DEAL.I’M VERY GRATEFUL FOR BEGIN HIRED AGAIN SERVING THE CUSTOMER’S.WORKING HERE IS GOING BE ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY HELPING EACH OTHER,SERVING RESIDENT’S IN NEW HAVEN AND OTHER SURROUNDING TOWNS,STUDENTS FROM THE COLLEGES ETC.THE SENIOR’S ARE GLAD TO SHOP AT HOME AGAIN AND
AND LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING SOME OLD FACES
IN THE AREA,MIGHT HAVE BUS TO TRANSPORTATION
TAKEN SHOPPING FROM HOME TO STORE IS WONDERFUL
GETTING RIDE WITH OTHER FOLKS.SO PLEASE EVERY
ONE ENJOY OUR NEW FAMILY MEMBER,AND LET’S KEEP IT CLEAN,SAFE,AND RESPECT YOUR STORE AS YOUR HOME AWAY FROM HOME.