Meat market: Falvo’s looking for new suitor

The Enterprise – Michael Koff

Joseph Robilotto has worked at Falvo’s Meat Shoppe for almost four decades and been its owner for nearly three. He bought the store from Sam Falvo in 1991, and recently put it up for sale.  

NEW SCOTLAND – Joseph Robilotto will be 78 years old this year and he has yet to take his wife to Italy. He wants to but first he has to sell a lot of meat – a store’s worth in fact.

Robilotto recently listed his store, Falvo’s Meat Market on Route 85A in New Scotland, for sale at $299,000.

The shop sits on about three-quarters of an acre of land, but that’s not where the value is, Robilotto said. “The value is in the business,” he said. “The customers are already built-in; they are already here.” With more homes being built in area, it’s an opportune time, he said, to both sell the business and, for the right buyer, to increase it.

“It’s a turnkey operation; it’s ready to go,” he said.

After having worked there for 10 to 12 years, Robilotto, in 1991, bought the store from Sam Falvo. “He wanted to retire young,” Robilotto said with a laugh; Falvo was about 60 when he sold him the shop, he said.

Robilotto has been working 51 weeks a year – he closes up for one week at the end of January and heads to Aruba – and a minimum of 47 hours a week, and, those are just the hours that the shop is open to the public. It doesn’t account for all of the additional hours that go into owning a small business. “When you’ve got a business, you’re married to it,” he said.

For a long time, Robilotto didn’t even take a full week for vacation – three days was the most he’d take, he said.

“Customer service and good, quality meat,” Robilotto said, is how Falvo’s has stayed in business despite the growth and ubiquity of supermarkets and price clubs in the area. “I put myself in my customers’ shoes and I sell them what I like, and I like good stuff.”

Robilotto said that supermarkets offer different qualities of meat whereas he offers only one – the best.

For example: London broil.

Supermarkets, Robilotto said, will use the shoulder, a chewy cut of meat, whereas he will use the top round, a more tender cut of the cow. Supermarkets will use Australian lamb, he said. “I will not touch that because it is gamey.”

Another thing that Falvo’s does that supermarkets no longer do, Robilotto said, is that his shop continue to make a lot of things, like meatballs and sausage, in-house. “Everything is fresh; no preservatives,” he said.

“Customers know they’re going to get something good; they are going to get catered to; that’s how you run the business that’s how you become and stay successful,” Robilotto said. “Because otherwise, the competition will beat you on price; they don’t beat you on quality.”

Robilotto is refreshingly curt about his time Falvo’s.

Why has he worked so long, until his late 70s?

“Because I enjoy it,” he said.

What did he enjoy about the job?

“Customers,” he said.

He then elaborated.

“They are not customers like in a supermarket; they are people I know,” he said. Then, pointing to a small table with chairs, he continued, “I have had kids at that little table playing with their dolls; now they are coming in with their own children.”

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