Town residents Vivian and Marc Iannotti are building a family business empire one grocery store at a time.
Vivian Iannotti called the couple’s new Stop and Compare store in Lynn’s State Street plaza “a culmination of everything” they have worked hard to achieve ever since Vivian’s mother, Betty Calvo, opened the first Stop and Compare in Chelsea in 1996.
They opened a second store in 2005 on Adams Street Extension in Lynn and drew on experienced employees in the Chelsea and Lynn locations to build out their workforce in downtown Lynn.
“Creating three teams out of two wasn’t easy,” said Marc Iannotti.
Some people were sad to move to a different store, but they did what was in the best interest of the team and the company as a whole, Marc said.
The idea to open a third store took shape in the most unlikely of circumstances — the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Iannottis were approached by the owners of the property in the middle of the pandemic.
“We didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said. “The supply chain was broken.”
Maria Pace, a spokesperson for State Street shopping center owner Brixmor Property Group, said Shaw’s supermarket’s decision to leave the center prompted Brixmor to seek out another grocery tenant.
The company recognized that Shaw’s exit would add to the “grocery gap” in the city, leaving low-income residents without varied food purchase options.
“One of Brixmor’s foremost tenets (is) to bring in uses that are relevant to the communities we serve,” said Pace.
The Iannottis pushed ahead with opening a second Lynn store, signing a contract in July of 2020 and officially opening in October.
The supermarket offers fresh produce and fresh meat and specializes in a wide selection of goods from tropical countries of Latin and South America and cuts of meat that are popular with individuals from those areas. It also has a full kitchen that serves both Latin and American food.
“Our customer base is diverse,” said the grocer’s website. “We try to serve the tastes of the ethnic population of the neighborhood. In Chelsea, most of our customers are from Central and South America. Lynn’s customers hail from Santo Domingo and Guatemala.”