CHICAGO — They have been a staple in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood for 75 years, but what makes County Fair Foods grocery store unique is the special relationship between the customers and the family who runs it.
County Fair Foods owner Bill Baffes knows exactly what’s behind the success of his store.
“What is the number one game-changer that separates us from our competition? You know what that is? The family,” he said. “I cut my teeth at my dad’s mom and pop store in the city. I started working and I was almost born in the store.”
He’s not the only one in the family who started young in the business.
“I was working here since I was 8-years-old. I started mopping floors and getting shopping carts since I was 8-years-old,” CEO Tom Baffes said.
Fifty-six years ago, Bill and his wife Joan opened the store on Western Avenue in Beverly. In keeping with family tradition, all four of the Baffes children have or currently work at the store.
But the Baffes family’s love for their community extends far beyond the grocery isles. With yearly County Fair Day’s that a bring a small town feel, to a large monetary contribution supporting the local Beverly Arts Center.
“They were struggling for a while so we helped to pull them through the hard times, and for that they were very generous to us and they called the theatre the Baffes Theatre,” Bill Baffes said.
They also sponsor local events and support local parishes and schools with a tuition program.
“The community has been so good to us and so supportive of our store and when that happens you feel a responsibility, obligated to give back to them,” Bill Baffes said.
The Baffes said they plan to begin training a few of the grandchildren to work at the store during college and on summer breaks.