2019 Outstanding Independents, Store Brands: Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Market, Carol Stream IL
Differentiating yourself from the competition is key to a successful independent grocery operation, and one way to do that is through store-brand products, something that Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Market has been highly successful at.
In the early 1980s, the grocer worked with a tomato grower out of California to introduce peeled, puréed tomatoes under the La Bella Romana brand. Romana was the name of store founder Angelo Caputo’s wife, and la bella means “the beautiful” in Italian. Caputo’s chose the tomatoes because “we were able to purchase them at a better price,” explains Robertino Presta, CEO. “We were one store at the time and we were buying loads of them.”
From that single product, La Bella Romana grew to include pastas, oil, spices and fresh products made in the stores’ commissary, which is named La Bella Romana Cucina. All hot foods from the company’s six locations, as well as many of the bakery’s house-made products, are branded La Bella Romana. Even flowers from the floral department are packaged in sleeves with the La Bella Romana logo. The brand also now graces the company’s meal kits.
Aside from the freshly made products, the store-brand products can be found in almost every department, and are often Italian imports or specialty products that are hard to find elsewhere. About 400 SKUs in total carry the La Bella Romana brand, and about one-fifth of all customers purchase a store-brand product, Presta notes.
While La Bella Romana is its main brand, the company recently opened Bar Angelo in its Addison, Ill., location, and all of the stores carry the Bar Angelo brand of coffee.
Store-brand products allow Caputo’s to “concentrate on what we put in there — it’s ours,” Presta explains. “You can only get it from us. It singles us out and identifies us. We’re just very proud of it, and we pay very close attention to it.”