Lonigros hoping anniversary sale will set tone for the future

Linda Trest

In 1978, Joe and Lisa Lonigro came to Gerald and opened J&L Market. Many, many things have changed since Joe searched for the light switches in his first grocery store. This week Lonigro’s Supermarket, owned by Joe’s brother Larry and Larry’s son Luke, marks the 40th year of being in Gerald with a huge anniversary bash.

Many items, in all departments of the store, are marked for big savings for the customers. Even the Garden Center is offering great deals. Larry worries that he may run out of sale items if the crowds are what he hopes for. 

Larry and Luke have slashed prices not only to thank his loyal customers, but also to help himself. He needs to attract lots of people to his store quickly. 

“I need this to be a big week, and I need every week after this to be well above what we’ve been doing,” Larry told The Republican. Even then it may be too little too late.

The business is in trouble and a large influx in cash is needed to solve some immediate problems. Larry, and his son Luke, are hoping people who would like to retain their hometown grocery store, will come to shop and support them.

The Lonigros sold J&L Market to a former employee in 2010. Larry says at that time the store was taking in around $4.8 million annually. The family went on to other business ventures. The Lonigros took over the business again in late 2015. In 2016 the store only grossed $2.8 million. The gross amount is the money taken in before expenses are paid. The average net profit in the grocery industry is two percent.

Larry says that might have been enough to keep the store afloat, but there are now debts that were incurred from the aforementioned business ventures that need to be paid. The Lonigros have always been known for their outstanding meat department. Their own bratwurst and other sausages, custom-cut steaks, fresh gulf shrimp and jumbo all-beef franks (just like you can buy at the ball game only cheaper) attract customers from all over the state. 

A town of 1,200 people is lucky to have a store that offers so much. That store may not be around much longer. Larry did note that since word has gotten out about his struggles, he has noticed more community support.

The employees at Lonigro’s have also been a source of support for Larry and Luke. “They are family,” Larry notes, “they are like my own.”

This week it’s do or die for the store that has become a landmark in the Gerald community. 

As Larry says it time for him to “Go big or go home.”