Taking over the family business
By Amos Johnson
The family-owned business La Stella Market has been in Little Italy for 47 years and plans on being there for a lot longer.
Eugene Pugliese, who goes by Jimmy, is the owner of La Stella Market. The business was built by his father in 1969 on what was originally a vacant lot.
The store is named after Pugliese’s oldest sister Stella, a decision made by putting all three of the children’s names into a hat and selecting one at random. Both of his sisters had married and moved away by the time Pugliese was 17, so he stayed to help his father run the business.
Pugliese is now 61 and married with five children, three of whom are working at the store. His youngest daughter Vanessa would like to take over the family business after her father retires.
“If you want to take over, you have to get the feel of everything,” said Vanessa Pugliese.
What makes La Stella Market unique is that they sell rare Italian items in the store – the kinds of things that most stores wouldn’t waste storage on. These things include cannellini beans, bariolé olives and grano cotto pastiera, ingredients often sought by Italian grandparents to recreate old traditions and recipes.
It can be difficult for small-business grocers to compete with big box grocery stores. However, Pugliese knows there is always a desire for things people can’t get anywhere else.
“You have to know your business,” said Pugliese. “You have to know what kind of people you have coming in because every store is different.”