L to R: MaryBeth Duffy, Raymond Miller, Robyn Miller, Adeline Miller and Charles Miller.
In 2010, Charles Miller recognized home-grown values of commitment, community, and collaboration when he and his family decided to move to the area as owners of an Enfield ShopRite. These days, these qualities will remain in their thoughts and actions even as they pass the store to new owners.
“It’s bittersweet … yet a bit of a relief too,” said former key owner Charles about the transition that was in consideration for two or three years. According to Charles, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced many environmental compliances for the industry in the past decade. “It was a new world of compliance of disposal and recycling of products we sold,” said Charles. The new owners will face the more recent changes in grocery selling practices, “with e-commerce being the biggest,” said Charles.
How It Began
He recalled how “something special about the Enfield community,” nestled in North Central Connecticut, spoke to the Miller family as the out-of-towners got involved with the possibility of opening the new ShopRite at the Brookside Plaza eleven years ago. The journey started when New Jersey-based Wakefern Foods Corp., the largest retailers’ cooperative group of supermarkets in the United States, invited Raymond Miller, the family patriarch, into co-op membership after he had worked for over 35 years in the company.
The invitation led to Raymond launching Miller Farms Family Markets, The ShopRite of Enfield, with his daughter MaryBeth Duffy and son Charles Miller in 2009. MaryBeth previously ran a travel agency in New Jersey, where she would stay – in proximity to the Wakefern Corp. base. Charles, who had started a home-building and contractor business in the state of Washington after a post-college stint as an Alaskan fisherman, headed east.
“I came back from the West Coast and looked at locations with Dad,” reminisced Charles Miller, just days after the Enfield ShopRite changed ownership in February. In time, the Millers were invited to a vetting process for the Enfield location (which was previously a Shaw’s market).
“To their credit, they were very concerned with success and a long term commitment to the store and the community,” said Charles, who currently serves as president of the North Central Connecticut Chamber of Commerce. In the past Charles and his wife Robyn Lee have also co-chaired the Asnuntuck Community College Foundation’s annual murder-mystery dinner and participated with fund-raising efforts for local non-profits including the Enfield Food Shelf.
NCCCC will continue Kindness Award
In addition, The Miller Family established the ShopRite Kindness award in 2014 to showcase North Central Connecticut high school students who make their school a better place through daily acts of kindness and compassion. The criteria for the award is not scholastic or athletic accomplishments, but rather teacher-nominated students who have shown themselves to be responsible and encouraging role models to the school community.
“It was my father’s brainchild to look beyond scholastics and recognize students who are participating in improving our world,” said Charles. The NCCCC will continue the Miller Family tradition to recognize the compassionate acts of area high school students with the Northern Connecticut Act of Kindness Awards.
Charles recalled a conversation he had with customer who contacted him upon hearing the news of the sale of the store.
“It made me think of the first time I met you,” said the customer. “I came up to the service desk and you said, ‘Tell me what I can do to help and I’ll do it.’
“He went on to say, ‘You never lost that part of it.’ “It was so meaningful to hear that,” said Charles.
By Laura B Hayden