It would be impossible to tell the story of Jerry’s without going back a few years. Around 1972 Jerry Turci started a business wholesaling cosmetics and fragrances in a small store on 17th Street in New York City. At that time 17th St. was the center for fragrance wholesalers. Some were wholesale to the trade only and others like Jerry were open to the public. Based on Jerry’s commitment to offering only the very best products at the lowest possible price he became well known and quite successful. His skills as a shrewd buyer sharpened as did his talent for knowing exactly what the customer was looking for. As time passed the need for larger and less expensive warehouse space facilitated the move to New Jersey. At first the New Jersey location handled only warehousing but there was an area that was zoned for retail. Jerry decided to make a storefront and open to the public and felt “if we do $1,000.00 a week, why not?”
Along with the cosmetics and perfumes he started to sell candy from Perugina. Other packaged food vendors started to approach Jerry with their products and slowly a food store was evolving. One day he chose to sell brick oven bread from Hudson County when his customers complained that they could not find good bread locally. The combination of goods plus the low prices became the talk of the town and the store was always busy. A few walls came down and the retail space expanded.
At about this time, Jerry and his wife made their first trip to London and of course a visit to Harrods. Jerry marveled at the Food Courts and realized they backed up to the Cosmetic Departments. Why wouldn’t the same idea work in New Jersey? As soon as he arrived home more walls came down, a large kitchen was built, a delicatessen counter was constructed, cold cut vendors contacted and incredibly a food market took over. The cosmetics and fragrances were pushed to the back.
The philosophy has stayed the same, always the best products at the lowest possible prices. Jerry found his true niche. Good food, well prepared had always been important to him. A chef was hiding in his soul and he loved sharing the authentic Italian recipes from his childhood in Naples with his customers. His brother in law Vito Fadda had been a chef in Italy, training from the age of 14. Jerry invited him to come and teach the kitchen staff instilling authenticity and passion in his team. At the deli counter every day over 60 different prepared dishes based on many of Vito’s recipes are available. This is not a deli counter that offers potato or macaroni salad but if you love eggplant rollatini or broccoli rabe and sausage you’ll be happy.
The store has continually evolved, a cheese counter was added and at this point there are over 600 different cheeses to entice customers. Every day fresh mozzarella is made in the kitchen under Jerry’s watchful eye and at holiday time it becomes an all day process with mozzarella selling as fast as it can be made. A Pastry counter offers cakes, cookies, pastries and specialty chocolates. Many of these are baked on the premises. Homemade Tiramisu and Bread Pudding made from Panetone are among the best sellers.
In 1999 Jerry was able to acquire a Liquor License so that wines could be sold along with food. The focus was on Italian wine, yet still offering a selection of wines from all over the world. At this time the inventory has been growing to almost 1,000 different labels. Wine tasting takes place twice a week.
With each visit to a Food Trade Show, whether here in the United States or abroad, Jerry finds more items to thrill his clientele with. Walls have been as expanded as much as possible and there is now about 6,000 square feet of retail space. To allow more expansion of our wine and food department we have decided to let go of our cosmetics and fragrances.
The latest venture that is taking place is the expansion of private label products. Several years ago Jerry began packaging Pasta Sauces based on his family’s recipes. Marinara, Filetto di Pomodoro, Vodka, Bolognese, Fra Diavolo and Puttanesca Sauces are all made in the kitchen of the store and jarred the old fashioned way. Jerry now wholesales the Marinara and Filetto di Pomodoro Sauces to Zabars in Manhattan and selected Whole Foods Markets in the New York metro area. Plans are in the works to increase the wholesale distribution. Baked goods, pastas, vinegars, oils and tomatoes are also under the Jerry’s label. Jerry has spent much time in Italy searching for quality producers of the most important elements of Italian cuisine and has packaged under his name San Marzano Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinegar from Modena. Our newest innovation is our new eCommerce website!
Jerry’s has become a destination for lovers of gourmet, customers spend hours slowly taking it all in. At Christmas regular clients know to come early because by 8:00 am there is a line that stretches out to the parking lot with Jerry himself working the door to control the crowd. Jerry's daughters, Mara, Francesca and Genna, all play major roles in the running of this bustling business. Jerry's wife Isabella is also a true asset and helps to over see the company and its future. Our extended family is made up of over 40 employees ranging from specialists, managers, cooks, bakers and cashiers. It has become a large store yet with a small, neighborhood feeling where everyone seems to know each other.
Because of the ideal location off the highway at the doorway to New Jersey from the George Washington Bridge, customers come from all over the tri state area. It is not unusual to meet people from Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Long Island. In the summer months customers load up their vehicles on the way to the Hamptons or the Jersey Shore. The tour of the parking lot is always interesting; there are Bentleys to pickup trucks, only to prove gourmets come in all packages!