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Supermarket Sweep

When online grocers started closing shop, a family-owned store grabbed the market.

Family-owned and operated since 1930, Santoni's Super Market is historic--but it's no dinosaur when it comes to technology. As the dotcom bust claimed online grocers in 2001, Robert Santoni Sr., 61, and Rob Santoni Jr., 40, added online orders, letting MyWebGrocer.com handle back-end services. "We already had the infrastructure in place with procedures and vehicles delivering phone-in and faxed orders," says Santoni Jr. "Adding this was a natural next step."

Santoni's found a customer base beyond its immediate Baltimore area, says Santoni Jr. The number of web orders increased 50 percent each year for the first three years, and each order now averages about $100. The store's internet orders compose 1 percent of total sales, which are projected to top $16 million this year. Other local grocers eventually added online orders, but Santoni's volume never waned. Says Santoni Jr., "We're a single store; we can react at a moment's notice."

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This article was originally published in the August 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Supermarket Sweep.

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