Dear Rockport Community:
Here is the official announcement made by our company and family today. We are so excited to bring a grocery store to Rockport, and we look forward to your support and input. Crackerjacks is not going away. We are remerchandising it to include groceries, and bring a much needed store to our community. Stay tuned as our plans unfold.
April 4, 2018 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Jay Smith, President, Smith Ace Hardware & Lumber
978-546-2229 x 11 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Smith Family to Bring Grocery Store to Rockport
Rockport, MA – On Wednesday April 4, Jay Smith, President of the Smith family businesses, which include Smith Ace Hardware & Lumber and Crackerjacks in Rockport, and Hometown Ace Hardware in Gloucester, announced his plans to bring a grocery store to Rockport. “We have been listening to what the community wants, and we have done the preliminary research and planning to make it happen,” said Smith in an official statement. “We will start by remerchandising Crackerjacks at 27 Whistlestop Mall in the coming months, and then grow it from there, based on community input and support.”
The plans for remerchandising the Crackerjacks retail location include offering a range of essential grocery items, butchery and bakery products, as well as produce, milk and dairy, condiments, snacks, and other essentials. A customer-friendly designated selling area for beer and wine is also proposed. “Our focus will be on farm fresh whenever possible, regionally and locally made products, and excellence in customer service,” stated Smith, who has been studying national community grocery store designs and trends. Whistlestop Market is the planned business name.
Once the grocery store is established with essentials, future plans may include a deli service area with a hot soup bar, prepared entrées and salad options, and other amenities that will make meals to go and to prepare at home healthy, fresh, and convenient.
“We are confident that our customers and the community will help us serve them, and we want their input,” says Smith, who is planning to survey customers and the community to determine what people most need. “With a 144-year business history on Cape Ann, our family and our employees stand ready to create a shopping experience that locals and visitors alike will enjoy. The grocery store will add yet another attractive, convenient amenity to a town we all love and care about,” Smith stated.
A Family Legacy on Cape Ann
Leverett Edward (L.E.) Smith began his hardware business on Cape Ann at Dock Square in 1874, and moved it to 49 Main Street in 1891. J. Raymond Smith, Jay Smith’s grandfather, who had started in the lumber business in 1924, bought the hardware business from L.E.’s’ sons, and ran it until the time of his death in 1947. Longtime employee and family friend Charles “Brud” Burbank took over the management of the lumber company at that time, and contributed greatly to the Smith’s business success. In the mid 1960’s, Jay’s father, Ray Smith, conceived what the locals at that time called “a crazy idea” of having a “shopping center” to serve the residents of Rockport, at a location outside of the congested downtown area. In 1967, he opened the Whistlestop Mall, with a brand new L.E. Smith Hardware as the original anchor tenant.
Jay has worked in the family business since his early childhood. After kindergarten, he would walk from the Tarr School on Broadway (now the current Rockport Public Library) over to the Main Street store. There he would “help out” until his dad took him home at lunchtime. Jay began working full time at the lumber business in 1978. “I have done just about everything over the years,” says Smith, who succeeded his father as president of the company, before Ray’s passing in 2013.
If the 5,000 square foot Crackerjacks location is successful, Smith may consider options to possibly expand into the 10,000 square foot former Rockport IGA site. “Since that store closed,” notes Smith, “we have been working to bring a grocery store back to Rockport.” While Smith has considered proposals from various grocers as tenants in the former grocery store space, an important consideration has been potential tenant’s confidence that Rockport can support such a large store. “We are part of this community,” says Smith, “We believe that a locally owned and operated grocery store is the right next step for our community, and that it will succeed if we plan it and grow it accordingly.”
Plentiful parking, handicapped access, proximity to other popular businesses, and a commitment to excellence in service are other positives of the Smith family’s proposal and the Whistlestop Mall location. “We are successful because we gave great people on our team,” says Smith. It is anticipated that Crackerjacks will remain open during the initial stages of the project, new jobs will be created, and all present employees will be engaged in the excitement of the new Whistlestop Market project. Some of Crackerjacks products will stay in the new store, and others will be moved to the hardware store.
“It is clear to us that people in the Rockport, Pigeon Cove and Lanesville communities want and need a grocery store,” says Smith. “My father Ray, our family, and our team of over 78 associates have done an excellent job of growing our businesses over the last several decades, and we must continue to change with the times. I am proud to carry on the family legacy as we all look to the future. Step by step, with community support and input, we will work together to make this happen.”
“We are currently looking for enthusiastic, qualified people who are passionate about good, fresh food to join our team,” adds Smith. “We welcome inquiries from nearby farmers, growers and food producers too, and they can contact us at email@example.com.” Smith plans to launch a customer and community survey soon, and will have a website and Face Book page for the new store. “We will begin the remerchandising and community input processes for the grocery store just as soon as possible,” he said.
Photo credit: Dan DeLouise, Gallery 53, Rockport.