Community and Culture In the Aisles of Price Rite
When Carlos Feliciano talks about his first day working at the original Price Rite Supermarket in Springfield, Massachusetts, he offers the exact date so quickly it’s as if it’s seared in his mind. “October 2nd, 1995,” he says, with a glowing sense of pride, and then proceeds to launch into the sensory details of the experience, from the citrusy smell of fresh produce to the metallic clang of coins hitting the register. To an outside observer, it immediately becomes clear that this is not only a story he loves sharing, but that he is recanting a pivotal moment in his life.
As young man in his early 20’s, Feliciano was already working three other jobs when he accepted the cashier position at Price Rite. On his first day in the grocery store, he recalls that his Price Rite district manager handed him a sheet of paper listing all of the prices for the produce offerings and said, “Memorize this and come back on Monday.”
Pouring over the list during the weekend, he committed the each item with its associated cost to memory. The following Monday, the new cashier entered the store with a newfound sense of purpose along with a plethora of numbers floating through his mind. “I’ve always believed that if you’re going to do it, do it one-hundred percent,” says Feliciano. “Doesn’t matter if it’s just a part-time job or a lifelong career; you’ve got to put your whole heart into it.”
Before taking the plunge into the Price Rite family, Feliciano was working a medley of part-time positions, ranging from bank teller to correctional officer at a county jail. Yet from his very first day at the grocery store, it was clear that he was entering a workplace with a culture unlike anything else he had experienced. “I remember the distinct feeling of being seen as a person, not just a team member,” he recalls. “You’re recognized by name here at Price Rite. And they care to know things about you.”
After six months of juggling his intense work schedule, Feliciano decided it was time to fully invest in one career. “In hindsight, it was a brave move,” he says. “This was a small, relatively unheard of grocery store and I was giving up a lot of job security because, after all, jails aren’t going anywhere. Ultimately, I believed in the future of the company and thought it was well worth the risk.”
Two decades and countless promotions later, Feliciano, now 42, is still operating with the same sterling work ethic, having advanced from his early days as a cashier to a systems specialist and corporate liaison overseeing sixty Price Rite locations.
“In the beginning, things were very raw here; they didn’t even have a proper retail system,” he laughs, a particularly funny detail for a man who is now directly responsible for managing Price Rite register systems nationwide. “To be able to see this company adapt to new regulations, policies and procedures over the years has been my biggest benefit. The company and I were able to grow together.”
From breaking down pallets on the nightshift to managing schedules as a floor manager, there isn’t a position at Price Rite that Feliciano hasn’t been involved in. Part of what makes him such a successful systems specialist responsible for maintaining, installing and troubleshooting all manners of information systems is his overall knowledge of all company operations. On any given day, he uses his institutional knowledge of the skill sets needed for each and every position in the parent company.
When his phone rings, it could be an exasperated manager needing help with malfunctioning registers that are causing chaos in the express lane; or an invitation to attend a ceremonious ribbon cutting for the opening of a new location. However, it is his main job requirement that brings Feliciano the most satisfaction: interacting with his fellow employees and Price Rite customers. “Every day is new and exciting, presenting different problems to solve.”
“Nothing brings me more joy than setting up a new store then coming back in nine months and seeing all the same people there,” says Feliciano. “I’ve been in this business for so long that I’ve seen 18-year-olds grow from clerks into managers, then owning their own beautiful homes. I’ve seen customers come in as young couples, and before you know it, they’re bringing in newborns to shop for baby food.”
For Feliciano, this kind of family-centric atmosphere is what gives Price Rite such a pivotal role in the neighborhoods where the stores are located. It’s not just another stop on the errand list; it’s a community hub that makes all the other tasks of daily life possible and enjoyable. “I like to think of my job as making someone else’s tomorrow easier,” he says.
Feliciano has witnessed the value and support system that Price Rite offers its employees countless times, but he only needs to look at his own family to see the positive effects. Happily married for 25 years, Feliciano and his wife are the proud parents to five children, all of which have worked at Price Rite at some point, and have been blessed with two grandchildren, as well. Feliciano believes that the work ethic and compassion that his children first encountered at Price Rite have served as a sturdy foundation for their future successes.
As for Feliciano himself? When discussing his five-year plan, he smiles and says, “You can probably guess the answer to that question. As long as I have the blessing of being able to interact and help grow the company, I don’t see myself going anywhere.”
“Price Right is a part of me.” And in turn, Feliciano is a large part of Price Rite. Just ask the regulars who lovingly greet him as he strolls through the sliding doors of the supermarket on any given day.