On March 8, 1997, the Carone family realized their dream as they opened a grocery store with great support from the Mountaintop community. As Carone’s Market celebrates its 20th anniversary, owner Frank Carone spoke of his family’s history here and the passion for the grocery business that he and co-owner brother Stephen inherited from their parents.
“The customers and the people that work with us are just unbelievable,” Frank related. “It’s one big family here and we just really want to thank the Mountaintop area for 20 years of support.”
The Carone family started out in the garment industry and, in 1990, ventured over to the grocery business. They owned a small store in Harding, Pa, where Frank, Stephen, and their sister spent much of their youth, playing in the back as children and later working there as teens.
Wanting to expand, the family considered many places in the Wyoming Valley area but were drawn to Mountaintop, where they were welcomed by the community. Frank was 23 when his parents bought the closed-down Acme store on South Mountain Boulevard and reopened it as Carone’s Market.
In 1998, Carone’s became part of the Shur Save corporation and in the early 2000’s, Frank and Stephen took over the business when their parents retired. Frank commented that he always knew that the family business was for him. “I always enjoyed it. It’s kind of like a lifestyle,” he said. “I don’t really look at it as work. It’s been such a big part of my life.”
Running the store is a nonstop, 24/7 commitment. “It’s a very, very fast paced, fast moving business,” Frank explained. “There’s not a lot of downtime. It requires a lot of planning.”
Frank described how, rather than celebrating holidays as they happen, he’s more used to taking family time after holidays occur, as that is a slower time for store traffic.
The Carones have been successful in their business. In 2006, the family purchased a second location in Freeland and, in 2010, they completely remodeled the Mountaintop store.
“We tried to improve it over the years,” Frank recalled. “In 2010, we flipped the entire store.” The dairy, produce, and frozen departments were expanded and added were hot foods, seasonal merchandise, and organic and gluten-free items.
Carone’s has many loyal customers, Frank reported, which relates to their success. Some have been shopping there since it opened two decades ago. Some people he knows by face, by their routine, and by the regular items they purchase, yet he doesn’t know their names. Others he remembers being pushed in carts by their parents when they were children, now old enough to walk into the store and purchase items on their own.
When asked why he thinks so many have been loyal to the store, Frank stated, “I think it’s the way the store is run and the people that work here. It’s what we have to offer and how we treat them.”
He praised the staff of Carone’s, 50 altogether, and noted that there has been little turnover in his employees. Many have been there from the beginning. “It’s almost like an extended family,” he said.
Of his own family –three children ages eight, three, and 16 weeks –Frank mused that someday they may work at Carone’s.
For now, he said, they enjoy when his wife brings them in and they play in his office and eat treats there.
Stephen’s daughter, who will soon be 12, may come to work at the store too.
“If she enjoys it the way my brother and I did, that’d be great,” said Frank. And of his parents, he concluded, he hopes they are proud of their legacy that he and his brother are continuing.