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A Family Legacy

Personal service sets Pure Food Market apart

Although the Pure Food Market family always knew their father’s strong legacy of personal service at the store, it wasn’t until after Donald Puza’s death in April 2021 that they learned the full extent of what that meant.

“We didn’t know the full impact he had on the community,” explains Vicky Puza-Allen, daughter of Don and co-manager. “After he passed away and the store closed, people kept showing up, leaving cards and flowers and Diet Cokes (Don’s favorite). The outpouring of support was beyond what we ever could have expected.”

Don’s belief in personal service and that family always came first extended in concrete ways to the loyal customers of Pure Food Market, many of whom shopped there for decades and are the second or third generation to do so.

Vicky recalled a time as a teenager when her dad brought them to a customer’s home because the customer needed someone to put up her Christmas decorations Other times he dropped off bags of groceries to families who were struggling. Don took care of everyone. That’s a legacy that he has passed on to his children, the third generation to run the store.

“That’s what has kept us going, our dad’s legacy,” notes Vicky. “We’ve been family-owned and operated since 1947. We see generations of family members now shopping in the store or working for us. I know almost all of them by name and, if I don’t know, then I ask.”

It’s not uncommon to hear customers’ names yelled out throughout the day as they are greeted by the staff.

Working with and selling high-quality food is paramount to the family. Don was adamant about using local farms, and they’ve carried on that tradition and several others. The store features an old-fashioned butcher shop where customers can ask for specific cuts of meat and have it sliced up for them fresh. In the deli, the family prepares all kinds of store-made salads from scratch and other specialty items.  In the spring and summer, most of the produce is locally grown. The store also runs different specials with items like golumbkis and lazy pierogi, two traditional Polish dishes

Although the store used to have more traditional grocery items, the last decades have seen them focus on the areas of the store that make them unique: the old-fashioned butcher shop and the deli filled with store-made items. This focus, as well as good prices on their items, sets them apart from the chain grocery stores.

“You will always receive personal service and we follow Dad’s legacy of family first,” says Vicky. She recognizes that competing for business with the bigger chain stores is challenging, but she knows that these components make the market a unique and personalized experience for shoppers.

The Puza family history is long and proud. Vicky’s great-grandfather came over from Poland around 1906 and sold meat door to door. The original market briefly started as a small business in Holyoke, before moving to Westfield for 15 years, and then to Southampton in 1964. At the time, it was the very first market in the town. It moved to its current location on College Highway in 1989. Although the day-to-day operations are in the hands of Vicky and her siblings Josh Puza and Lisa Heath, all Don’s children, many other family members also work at the business. Whether or not they are a blood relative means little to this team.

“Staff may come and go but they will always be a part of our family,” says Vicky.

With customers and employees all clearly part of the Pure Food Market family, the current generation of managers has succeeded in ensuring that Don Puza's legacy of personalized service and putting family first has lasted.

Located at 31 College Highway in Southampton, Puza’s Pure Food Market is open daily. For more information, call 413.527.3819 or visit its Facebook page.

The store features an old-fashioned butcher shop where customers can ask for specific cuts of meat.

He was everybody’s father, grandfather and friend.

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