By Kathy Brown
(September 18, 2021) — Many people referred to the Higganum Market as “Ming’s” because he left such a mark on the place. Those people will now have to get used to calling it “Pete’s.”
Ming Chou bought the Market in May 2013, and Prakash “Pete” Patel purchased the store in June. The Patel family was actually interested in purchasing the Market from Ming four years ago, but at that time, the Grange (owners of the building in which the Market is housed) didn’t think that they had enough retail experience. In those four years, the Patel family went from owning two retail businesses to eight, mostly liquor stores, all in Massachusetts. The Higganum Market is their first “full blown grocery” and their first business in Connecticut.
Unfortunately, when we contacted Pete to do the interview about the new business, we learned that he had been in a serious accident, resulting in many fractures. He is currently in a rehab facility in Connecticut, awaiting multiple surgeries. He had recently moved from Maryland where he had been in manufacturing, to Connecticut to run the Market. We were, however, able to speak with Pete’s brother Samir, who lives in Massachusetts and manages some of their other retail stores.
One of the things that the Higganum Market has been known for is their butcher, and that staff hasn’t changed under the new ownership. The front end staff is also unchanged. The deli staff has changed, but Samir said that they knew that when they purchased the store, because the deli staff follows Ming from store to store as he establishes each business.
Pete did hire a store manager, George Jones, who manages the store in Pete’s absence.
Another thing that the Market has been known for is specialty foods. For a small store, they have extensive variety for vegans, gluten free/special diets, gourmands, and other foodies. The aisles have many smaller shelving units in them with specialty foods: gluten free breads, granola and organic cereals, baked goods, and more.
While taking photographs to go with this article, I counted 40 varieties of maple and other syrups like Madagascar vanilla infused maple syrup, blueberry syrup, cinnamon infused maple syrup, barrel-aged maple syrup, Lyle’s Golden Syrup, and date nectar.
Likewise, there were over 100 varieties of barbecue sauces and marinades, including roasted garlic honey barbecue sauce, sugar free barbecue sauce, Naughty Dog Habanero & Jalapeno barbecue sauce, and Sweet Baby Rays in several varieties.
They have many varieties of nut butters and teas, pastas and spices, fresh bread, alternative milks, and much, much more.
When asked, Samir said that the way Ming had the store was very successful so “there was no point changing.” They wanted the business for four years, and it was “a well run and profitable business.” Ming stayed on for a short time to help with the transition.
Samir said that there might be some bumps because of Pete being in the hospital for the foreseeable future in terms of stocking products, but that if patrons are patient, “I promise we’ll get it back to normal,” said Samir. If there are any changes that you like, let them know.
Photos by Kathy Brown, except photo of Pete provided by Samir Patel.