New owner of grocery store in Oswego aims to continue Bosco’s family tradition
By Steve Yablonski
The steady stream of vehicles in and out of the parking lot is the same. The name is the same; so are the storefront and all the products and staff. The service is still top-notch.
And, that’s just how the new owner wants to keep things.
Mike Ward owns a store in Chili, a Rochester suburb, and now expanded his enterprise with the addition of the eastside Oswego landmark.
The intention is to leave everything the same, Ward explained.
“It’s going to be the same folks that are here, Bosco’s name and Bosco’s tradition. It’s what attracted us to the store to begin with. So we don’t want to change anything. I’m not looking to make a big splash. This store has been so successful for decades. I can see, maybe down the road a few months, some little things, but nothing’s that’s going to disrupt the flow of things,” he said. “I am just kind of learning what the mix is here first. “I want to get to know the customers, what they like and what they want. We’ll take a good look at everything. If folks are looking for something, we’ll try to get it for them.”
There may be some little things in merchandising, maybe some different varieties.
“This will be our second location,” Ward said. “Our other store is in Chili, New York, on the other side of Rochester.”
“We actually buy from the same meat supplier [as Bosco’s]. They approached us and said we have this location that we think is kind of unique and we think that you’d be a good fit for it. They said it is something that you want to take a look at and we said, ‘yes.’ Theresa [Himes] has done so much here, we respect what the family has done, the way they run the store, the quality products … that was the connection. We got together and started talking and here we are,” he said.
Bosco’s Meats was opened in 1959 by Joseph and Barbara Bosco across the street from where it currently stands at 343 East Ave. After 33 years, they retired, selling the store to their three children, Joseph, John and Theresa Himes.
Currently, Himes is president and chief financial officer.
She started working at the store when she was 14 years old.
“I can’t forget it; I had to work Christmas Day that year,” she laughed. “Officially, on the books kind of thing, I started in 1972.”
“I started nights in high school. I got done in 1973 and my dad said, ‘alright, you’re in charge of everything but the meat department,’” she continued.
Ward’s commitment to continuing Bosco’s legacy was “one of the things that were so encouraging for me,” Himes said.
“When Mike put in his purchase offer, he said he wanted to keep our business the way it is. He didn’t want to come in and re-invent the wheel. He wanted to come in and just enhance what we did. This will carry on our name; because we didn’t have succession if we didn’t do something,” Himes said. “I felt very comfortable handing the reins to him, I’ll tell you that. Mike took the baton.”
“Right down the line we have been very invested in this community, our neighborhood. We want to hire kids, people that live around here; we want to invest in our community,” Himes said. “Mike feels the same way. So, it’s going to be a win-win for everyone.”
Himes has had people who’ve worked for her when she was younger, and now their children have started working for her, and their kids are coming in with them.
“We’ve been very fortunate. We’ve had a lot of community support,” she said. “We’ve been lucky to draw from the community for our employees and staff. We have a fantastic staff; our staff made us. We could not do what we did just the three of us, Joe, John and I. We had to have help to expand the property and keep our products at the quality that we wanted to be. So we’re really pretty lucky.”
A win-win situation
“I’m going to retire. It was a pleasure, 99% of the time, truly. I love my costumers. I love my staff. And honestly, you know, it is hard work. This business is hard work, it is not easy. It is not for the faint of heart; trust me when I tell you that. It’s a 24/7 and you just have those days when you go home and you think, ‘why?’ and there are days when you go home and think, ‘wow, this is a great day,’” she said. “It’s a win-win, for all of us.”
“I love what I did and I know Mike loves what he does, he loves the business. That’s the one thing, when you love what you do, the time flies by. Fifty years went by so quick; I don’t know where the time went! I really don’t. We put our kids through school, they got to work here, they got to learn work ethic and they got to meet some great people,” Himes added. “We have wonderful, wonderful customers; and when I had [daughter] Melissa, I probably got 20 dresses from our customers. It’s just so sweet that these people think of you as part of their family. I think this community is very family-oriented and I love that about Oswego.”
Part of the store’s longevity can be attributed to treating customers “like family and vice versa,” Himes explained. The relationships formed with the customers inside the store has resulted in friendships outside the store, she pointed out.
“People appreciate having the best for their meals, their holiday meals. People do appreciate the fact that we are so conscientious, that we do our best. We don’t want anybody to be unhappy; I think Mike will continue that,” Himes said.
Himes said she is happy to have had great people to work with and wonderful customers every day … “I love being here, it’s been my life.”
“I actually am really looking forward to spending more time with my family and friends,” she added.