Photo courtesy of ShickshinnyForward

Thomas' Family Markets Foodtown

Each month our e-newsletter features a local or regional business that calls the Susquehanna home. Learn more about how they are helping to reinvest in our river towns, encourage revitalization, and further local economic development.
Reprinted with permission from ShickshinnyForward article by Amanda Birk

In describing the overwhelmingly positive reaction to Shickshinny’s new grocery store, co-owner Tom Baseski said, “several women came into the store, and just started crying for joy.” He said, “it means so much to be able to provide a greatly needed resource.” Saturday, October 6 marked the official grand opening of Thomas’ Family Markets  Foodtown.

Tom Baseski is co-owner of Thomas’, in conjunction with his wife, Hayley Baseski, his sister, Pam Evans, and co-owner Chris Evans.  The four have owned and operated Thomas’ for the past 15 years, with the Shickshinny location being the 6th store in the family business. Tom started in the industry working for Insalaco’s as a check-out clerk when he was 16 years old, and eventually grew to become a store manager. Co-owner, Chris Evans, was a district manager for the same chain, which also employed both Hayley and Pam. Tom enjoyed his time working for Insalaco’s, saying the company even provided education funding for employees.  While Thomas’ is still a small chain in comparison to Insalaco’s, he plans to build the same positive work environment as the company grows. 

Thomas’ brings not only a much needed grocery, but also Beertown, which is will have “almost every type of beer” on the market. Beertown will also have a café, which will offer fare such as cheesesteaks and meatball hoagies. The store also touts robust meat and produce departments, and carries a brand name food line, including some organic products, such as Foodtown Organic Eggs. 

Thomas’ new store also brings 50 to 60 new jobs to Shickshinny, both full and part-time. 
April Lopes is one of those new hires, and she says “it’s been non-stop all day.”  She started stocking the meat section at 6AM that morning, and at 6PM, was still going strong. “The butcher has been hard at work all day, too,” she said. April is a Shickshinny resident, herself, and is thrilled to finally have a grocery store back in town.  The trip to Fetch’s (grocery) in Plymouth was a drive for her, especially with gas prices going up.  She said that “the response from the community has been great.  Sometimes the store was so busy, it was hard to move. There have even been people coming from Berwick to see the new store.” 

Of course, one topic on the minds of many people is the issue of flooding.  Tom says he attended some Shickshinny Forward meetings “undercover,” because he didn’t want to get hopes up if things didn’t work out. He admits he was at first skeptical about opening a store in a flood zone. However, as he looked further, he found enough positives to outweigh his initial doubts. He considered that some sources said 2011 was an unusual 200 year flood. More importantly, the store location has flood gates installed, which would protect against most flooding issues.

The flood insurance turned out to be relatively inexpensive due to these extra protections in place. The new owners put the electric in the ceiling instead of through the floors, and expensive equipment such as refrigeration is located on the roof. Thomas’ is prepared with back up trailers and refrigerated units for storing food if necessary. These products can then be moved to Thomas’ other locations, an option unavailable to the previous owners. Lastly, Thomas’ employs over 400 employees throughout the business, some of whom could, if necessary, be mobilized to help. 

Shickshinny is undoubtedly grateful for Thomas’ investment into the town.  The folks at Thomas’ can be assured that, in return, they can count on the support of the community.

ShickshinnyForward is a volunteer organization is focused on both the recovery of the greater Shickshinny area and the ongoing revitalization of the community. Learn more about this organization at www.ShickshinnyForward.com or at their Facebook page.