Regular customers at historical Giglio’s Market saddened as owners move into retirement

By: Julie Snyder | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published April 6, 2011


ST. CLAIR SHORES — March 30 was a sad day in St. Clair Shores, as one of the city’s oldest and most beloved family-owned food markets closed for its final business day.

Tears were flowing as many of Giglio’s Market’s most devoted customers said goodbye after more than 85 years of friendly service, family tradition and sausage.

Questions like “Where am I going to get my Italian cheeses?” and “Where am I going to get spinach pie?” and “Where am I going to get my meats?” filled the air as Francesca Giglio, co-owner with her husband Aldo Giglio, explained that she and Aldo, 79, simply want to retire.

“The economy isn’t helping,” said Francesca, 64. “But we want to retire. To our customers, thank you for your support through the history of Giglio’s Market.”

That history dates back to 1926 when Italian immigrant Frank Giglio Sr., Aldo’s late father, opened his authentic Italian market in Detroit’s Eastern Market area. Over the years, Giglio’s became a destination, widely known for its variety of fresh and imported Italian foods, such as pasta — they had the largest selection in Michigan — plus wine, cheese, meats, bread, olives and herbs, among other items.

Francesca, whose family moved to the area from Italy 53 years ago, was well-known for her cooking and baking skills, especially her soups and sauces, and she often catered weddings, showers and other local events. “I’ve been cooking since I was a girl,” said Francesca. “I love to cook. People love my cooking because I use only fresh ingredients, fresh herbs. That’s the best way to cook.”

And Giglio’s was best known for their handmade sausage.

“Our handmade sausage was a lot of people’s favorite,” said Francesca. “They are asking me where they’re going to get their sausage now that we are closing.”

Giglio’s Market was owned and operated by Aldo, Francesca and Aldo’s brother Jim for many years until Jim died from cancer six years ago. Aldo and Francesca’s son Frank Jr. later stepped in and helped run the business, as did the couple’s four other children in one aspect or another. The Giglios have nine grandchildren.

Giglio’s Market relocated to Harper Avenue in St. Clair Shores in 1988 and was open seven days a week.

“We have loved it here,” said Francesca, adding that their regular customers from Detroit followed them to St. Clair Shores.

Former St. Clair Shores resident Jennifer Coppola drove in from Sterling Heights on Giglio’s Market’s last day of business to stock up on the Italian cheeses and spices she uses for cooking.

“I’m sad. I didn’t know they were closing,” said Coppola. “I don’t know where I’m going to go now.”

Francesca said Giglio’s Market was not only a family-owned business; they also served many generations of families.

St. Clair Shores resident Augustino Giordano had been going to Giglio’s Market for 65 years, starting when his mother would take him along on shopping trips to their former location on Gratiot as an infant.

“This place is the best,” said Giordano. “They had the best sausage around. I’m going to miss it.”

Francesca said she plans to continue catering for her closest regulars and friends while Aldo recuperates from upcoming surgery.

“We were a family-oriented store, but we were more than a store,” said Francesca. “We took pride in what we did here, and our customers got to know us as people and as friends, and we got to know our customers personally. We knew their good times and their bad times. That I will miss.”