Archive 2008 - 2019

Holliston Superette: Fifty Years and Counting

by Sarah Commerford & Meg Porter

It's hard to imagine, but fifty years ago on August 1, 1960, Nellie and Arthur Guidi along with their son Paul opened the doors to the Holliston Superette. 

Fast forward to the present and new owner Chris Leoncini (shown above) is not only keeping the tradition of The Superette alive, but is expanding its offerings to meet the growing needs of an ever-changing community. Growing up in Mendon, Chris started his retail experience at the age of sixteen, working six years part-time and six years full-time at Cumberland Farms in Hopedale. As luck would have it, Chris' best friend worked with Paul's future wife, and told him about a position at the Superette. The rest is history.

Working alongside Paul, and long-time employees Sheila Love and Beverly Cray, Chris learned how to butcher, prepare homemade food, manage employees and run a busy, thriving downtown business. When asked about his greatest strength, Chris's employees immediately respond that he has a big heart and truly cares about his customers.
Unlike many small businesses that have gone digital, the Suprette is not computerized. Chris prefers to keep face-to-contact with his customers, a trend that seems to be disappearing in today's world of big box stores and supermarkets.  Chris modestly admits that his organizational skills and tendency to take on too much can make for long weeks, which average anywhere from 50-70 hours.

How many times have you suddenly realized that it's six o'clock and you haven't planned dinner? A quick stop into the Superette, and Manager Dave Lanni, Robert Averbuk, Anthony Guidi or Alba Maldonado are behind the counter ready to bail you out. Forgot your lunch? No problem. Sheila Love, Beverly Cray, Joan Pinkell, Meghan Styffe, Diane Lynch or Alex Perejda will make you the best "Downtown" or "Mudville" sandwich you've ever had. Seventy-five percent of the prepared food is made on location. One of the favorites is Sheila's meatloaf and have you ever tried their homemade sausage? There's none better.

A hallmark of the Superette is its full service butcher shop. At one time, meat came whole, then in sections but now it comes in boxes. Chris and his crew skillfully prepare custom cuts of choice meats for even the most finicky customers. Not a carnivore? Captain Marden's delivers fresh fish six days a week. Unlike the meat case which is kept at 36-42F, the fish is kept in the cooler, which runs 33-36F, ensuring that the fish is kept as fresh as possible.

In addition to lunch and dinner, Chris makes an effort to support local bakers: Framingham Bakery (pizza, bread and roles), Emily Cooris from Ashland (Emily's brownies) and Kathy Mahoney from Natick (pies). Holliston Superette also boasts its own label of fifty different types of condiments and sauces. This idea started with a search for a Teriaki sauce with less salt and more flavor. The secret, Chris says, is in the added pineapple juice that gives the sauce an extra kick.

A recent addition to the store, is an impressive cheese case that holds everything from Vermont Cheddar to Sheila's homemade Boursin cheese spread.

Chris has also re-arranged the produce section by changing a set of wooden produce bins that had been in place for thirty years. The new display is crisp, fresh and inviting.

Decorating the walls of the shop are antiques and momentos of days gone by. Old bottles, boxes of cereal, tools, guns, skis, a wooden stretcher, posters and the newest addition of pin-up Christmas Calendars are posted. But perhaps one of the most unusual antiques is a custom- made stained glass window over the front door. Before the stained glass window, a piece of cardboard was in its place. One day local resident Arty Deskos, whose hobby was glass work, offered to custom make a mosaic window for the store and it has been there ever since.

Sheila (shown below left) and Beverly (shown below right) have worked at the Superette for over twenty years.  They fondly recall one of Paul Guidi's favorite quotes was, "not all of my antiques are hanging on the wall; some are behind the counter." No offense taken. Without Sheila and Beverly, the store would not open daily at seven a.m.

In addition to excellent, fresh food, the Superette also provides jobs to local teenagers and students returning from college. Now more than ever, it's nice to know that a local business is committed to providing kids with a predictable, family-friendly place to work.

Despite his busy schedule, Chris is devoted to improving and up-dating the Superette with a variety of projects. This year alone, he replaced the five-door freezer, the floor behind the front counter, moved and re-arranged the produce display and painted the wall behind the registers. When the time is right, he'd love to expand the meat counter with an eight-foot case to accommodate year-round grilling enthusiasts. 

Thanks Chris, for keeping it all together with a smile, stocking your shelves with a little bit of everything and for caring so much about the Holliston Community. You are truly super.

Comments (3)

I really enjoyed reading about the terrific Holliston Superette, mostly the employees whom I owe so much and consider part of my family.

James Mandeville | 2011-03-07 12:24:20

The Superette always lends a hand to the Holliston Pantry Shelf. They really do care about our community!

Joanne | 2011-01-18 17:42:03

Thanks to Paul, Chris, Sheila, Beverly, and all of the Superette staff!!! Downtown Holliston is not the same without you!

JM Brown | 2010-12-24 11:39:38