One of the more popular topics on the Hyde Park community Facebook pages is the transformation that Hyde Park Shaw's grocery store has undergone under its new leadership of April Ricci, Store Director. HOHP recently sat down to learn more about April and her commitment to Hyde Park beyond her role at Shaw's.
How did you come to Hyde Park and how you became involved with the store?
I’ve lived here my whole life - [Hyde Park] is close to my heart! I’ve worked at Shaw’s for about 18 years and one of the things they do when you become management is that they move you around a lot. Within the last 5 years I’ve heard a lot of talk from neighbors, family and friends that the Hyde Park location wasn’t up to par for our community. I had originally stepped in and spoke to some people in the corporate office and I said, “Why don’t you let me go over there?” Typically they don’t like people to work close to home; they like to bring people out of their comfort zone, but I thought it was best that I begged to go back. Within a year or two someone happened to be leaving and I said, “Please just give me the opportunity during this round - there’s a lot of negative feedback. I think I can do some good to change the place around if you give me some time to do it.”
What challenges have you faced at the Hyde Park Shaw’s?
When I first went back a lot of the rumors I heard about were true. It had changed a lot so my biggest challenge was to change that culture. That is still a work in progress; it’s something that had worked over time in a downward spiral so it’s probably going to take even more time [to improve]. It’ll never be perfect, but better.
Another challenge is you want to hear as much feedback as you can, and most of it's unfortunately negative so trying to balance getting the place up to par, but also fixing all the small things that you can to win that battle.
Can you speak to some of your greater involvement in the Hyde Park community and some of the clean up efforts?
It starts in my parking lot at Shaw's, but I try to extend myself down Hyde Park Ave. both ways. I feel like I owe it to people. Some of it can be my trash in my parking lot blowing both ways so I try to go at least once a week to collect garbage, but it’s almost even beyond garbage because all summer long our carriages are scattered everywhere. We try to make [carriage retrieval] a fun thing for the employees, especially the kids. We’ll make it a day where we walk the neighborhood. It’s not really a day of work now; it’s fun but you’re cleaning and you’re taking care of your community too.
The first priority in the first snowstorm was to get the sidewalk shoveled. It remember last year when I first came, people were concerned about the sidewalk not being shoveled consistently. There’s also a handicap ramp coming from Blake Estates. I try to keep involved in every way that I can. It’s important to me because it’s important to the community and I’m also a part of this community. I expect the building to have the same standards as us. A lot of people that work at the [Hyde Park Shaw’s location] aren’t from Hyde Park so it’s good now to set this tone and culture: to keep clean, respect our neighbors and our neighborhood.
At the time of this interview April had also successfully applied for the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck to visit the store parking lot. It was an extensive application process in which she petitioned for Hyde Park to have this special event - she wrote a 3-page letter! The truck visited Shaws on Saturday, December 14, 2020.
Is there any collaboration with Blake Estates or other businesses in your corridor?
I’m closely involved with Blake Estates, but mostly with the seniors - we love and appreciate them more than you know! We’ve never discussed a cleaning plan together; maybe that’s a good idea or plan I can seek out with Robin [the manager of Blake Estates].
As Shaw’s manager, what are some of your goals for 2020?
To continue to keep clean, continue to meet our customers’ needs, most importantly to listen - that’s the #1 thing that keeps me going. You have to listen, whether good or bad, continue to expand our variety and continue to get better. My goal is to continue to move up and forward - not look in the past.
As a long-time resident, what do you look forward to in Hyde Park?
I see a lot of changes coming - sometimes change is needed to get better. Something I would like to see happen, and something I’m trying to implement at Shaw's, is we need to change our store fronts. I love that Main Streets put the wreaths [during the holiday season]. We need to expose all the great things about Hyde Park!
I notice people like to comment about Shaw's on Facebook, but what’s the most constructive way for people to give feedback about Shaw's to you? Can we give feedback to Shaw's corporate?
I tell people to contact me via Facebook - I may not be able to respond in a timely manner, but I read all the messages. They can also contact the store and I’ve given local business owners my number too so we can work together. I like the direct contact so I can hear from the person - it works better. I know it sounds cliche, “Fill out the survey!” but ultimately, our surveys go directly to our corporate office in Bridgewater, and it comes right back to us. They do see it, whether good or bad! There’s also social media for Shaw's too. Corporate sees it and passes it along to me - Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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Quiana first came to Boston as a college student, graduating from Wellesley College in 2002 and returned in 2016 to live in Hyde Park with her husband and two children.