“In both stores, we want to make an impact presentation,” Di Giusto says. “We want to be able to have a large amount of product out, but to be able to control it. We want the customer to feel like they’re in a garden with lush mounds of produce all around — extremely appealing to the eye.”
Local — and The Fruit Center considers Massachusetts and New England local — factors prominently as well. On the day I visit, local cranberries are starting to hit the shelves, along with Vermont-grown Honeycrisp apples.
During the past few years, organic produce has become a bigger part of the assortment as well, Di Giusto says.
Something for everyone
While the department may be small in square footage, it’s big on service.
“One of the things we try to do in the produce department is offer a big selection,” Di Giusto says. “We’ll sell three different sizes of asparagus, and when in season, carry white and purple asparagus. We’ll carry two colors of bananas. It’s the same with avocados. We’ll have three different displays of avocados — green, ready-to-eat and organic.”
It’s not unusual to see two sizes of an item such as brussels sprouts, either.
“The customers that we seem to attract are the ones who are going to know what to do with their produce and seek it out,” Mignosa says.
That customer base has transformed over the years as well, he says, from an older, established community to a population of younger families with children.
“It’s vibrant, but there’s definitely been a lot of generational customers who shopped here with their parents, and now they’re shopping with their own kids,” he says. “There’s a great community feel.”
Up next for The Fruit Center Marketplace is an overhaul of its Milton produce department.
“We blow the place up regularly to keep it fresh,” Mignosa says.