Robert LaBonne Jr.

Company: LaBonne's Markets

Location: Woodbury

Company/organization description

LaBonne's Markets was founded in 1962 by Hy LaBonne and his son Bob LaBonne Sr as two butchers with 4 generations in the industry in small store on Main ST in Watertown CT in just 800 square feet. Today we have grow to 420 associates with 4 stores in Watertown, Woodbury, Salisbury and Prospect serving over 30,000 customers a week. We have been able to compete in this very competitive industry with our amazing people and their passion for great food and superior service.

Tell us about the entrepreneurial milestones you accomplished?

LaBonne's Markets had a 56% sales increase in 2020. This was done through several initiatives, a acquisition of a new store in Prospect and the effective first to market safety procedures to keep our associates, vendors, customers and community safe. We were the first retail store in the country to take temperatures every day, first with plastic shields in our deli area and on both sides of our cashiers. These moves grew our costumer confidence and it expanded our customer base by over 25%.

What type of entrepreneur are you?

Main Street - local business focus

What CT entrepreneur ecosystem resources have helped you succeed?

All our safety measures mentioned above, plus the support of our local food banks in 2020 with our Round Up Cash register receipt program that supported our 4 local food banks, the United Way and other charities helping those struggling last year during the pandemic. In total we donated over $40,000 to these organizations. We also partnered with several small biz in CT to collaborate new products. Pumpkinfest Beer with Reverie Brewery Company. Little Dipper Ice Cream and Transcend Brewery.

Nominator Justification

We had a record sales year with a 56% sales increase up to almost $54m. Next we were the first retail store in the country to take the temperatures of every associate, vendor and customer in an effort to keep our people, their families and our community safe. We also were the first with plastic shields between the customers and the deli counter associates, plus we installed clear shower curtains behind cashiers. All these steps led to record sales and extreme customer confidence.

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