Sadly, sometimes a business must shutter its doors. Reasons vary, but ultimately it means an empty building or storefront, a loss of jobs and revenue.
In 2011, three well-known family-owned stores closed -- Manzella's Fruit Market, neighboring Giovanni Bakery, and Giglio's Market. Bad news, without a doubt, since all three businesses had been around for decades.
The good news is, for the customer who prefers to shop close to home, a few local stalwarts remain.
Hodell's Cake Shop
Hodell's has been in business for 55 years, starting in Detroit, but they moved to their Harper (just north of 13 Mile) location 17 years ago, where they now have more room and more parking.
Doug Hodell is now the owner, taking over entirely once his father Dennis retired. Sadly, he passed away, last year.
The storefront is filled with display cakes, whetting a customer's appetite for sweets, but inside there's much more. Cannolis, cakes (both ready to purchase and ready to order, made with their signature butter-cream frosting), donuts, coffee cakes, pastries, cookies and other treats entice shoppers. If you're looking for a traditional sweet, consider the "Sleeping Beauties," which are similar to the classic Bumpy Cakes.
Hodell comes in at 2:30 each morning to start baking all the goodies. (The only thing they don't bake are the breads, which come from Sweetheart Bakery in Warren.)
Hodell also likes to try and give back to the community. Whatever doesn't sell gets donated to Nativity Church in Detroit, and he also likes to lend his talents to fundraisers.
Hodell's Cake Shop is located at 31387 Harper. Store hours are 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday. Call 586-294-1100 to learn more. Also check them out on Facebook.
A bit south along the drag is another local shop, the Harper Bakery, just a few blocks north of 10 Mile.
Husband and wife Ted and Goldie Zdravkovski have owned the store since 1981, though it's been open more than 50 years.
The shop is a multi-tasker, as the Zdravkovskis sell a few grocery items -- milk, juice, flour, paper plates and similar grocery items -- but the real enticement is the bakery part of the shop. As soon as one walks in the door they'll see cases full of baked goods -- the work of the mister.
He comes in at 3 each morning to bake breads, cannolis, cookies (from classic chocolate chip to traditional Italian treats). He also makes cakes, danishes, pies (full-size, miniature, and sugar-free) and a whole lot more. They even sell pasties -- beef, chicken and Spanish (with cheese and eggs) -- as well as submarines, and make pizza to order.
Harper Bakery is located at 25600 Harper, and is open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, and 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Call 586-775-4330 to learn more.
Since the closures of Manzellas', Giovanni's and Giglio's, Village Market general manager Jerry Monterosso says they've seen no big uptick in customers.
"We've shared customers for years," he says. Presumably, some for decades, since Village Market has been in the same location for 63 years.
Now they've just made some tweaks to accommodate customers' wants and needs, including adding more Italian products -- lunch meats and special cuts of meat, for example -- as a result.
He says they also have a new Italian sausage recipe, and they now sell lamb and veal, since people used to get that at Manzella's. They also have grown their produce section as well as their deli, but otherwise it's business as usual. Customers still come in for essentials and their signature nacho cheese dip, and shop the big variety of prepared foods, from more than 20 salads to hot and cold items, all at reasonable prices.
That some people think a smaller business charges bigger prices, Monterosso disputes that. "We're small with competitive prices," he says, and they always try to offer good sales.
Village Market is located at 28510 Harper, and is open daily 8:30 a.m.-9 p.m. To learn more, call 586-771-1187 or visit their website at www.guastellosvillagemkt.com, to learn about weekly specials and more.
Nino Salvaggio is another survivor -- and has thrived -- in the area. The St. Clair Shores store is the first of the three Ninos to be erected, in 1979. The other stores are located in Clinton Township and in Troy.
Joe Santoro, senior buyer for Nino's, says they're seeing more customers lately, but it's hard to pin down an exact number. They've added a few more products -- deli meats and some other Italian goods -- but there's been no dramatic change in the shop's aisles. They still sell a wide variety of international items, staples and specialty items, produce, flowers, meats, cheeses, sweets and breads, wine, and more.
When the other businesses closed, new customers came in asking about products and Santoro says they tried to accommodate. "If we don't have it, we can get it."
A customer can either come in and ask a manager about ordering a specific product, or you can visit the website and make a request. Either way would work, Santoro says.
Nino Salvaggio is located at 27900 Harper, and is open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and 8 a.m.-7 p.m. on Sundays. Call 586-778-3650 or visit them on-line at ninosalvaggio.com to learn more.