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Oldest, family-owned market: The history of the Santa Cruz institution, Shopper’s Corner

Presented by Shopper's Corner
Family photo taken in 1998 at Shopper's Corner.

Ask any Santa Cruz native for some of their favorite local grocer recommendations, and Shopper’s Corner is sure to make the list. This beloved family-owned business is one of Santa Cruz County’s only remaining independent supermarkets.

Jim Beauregard who grew up working in the store remembers when the grocery landscape was quite different. “Back in the 40’s and 50’s, there were independent markets everywhere and every one of them was owned by someone from our community here in Santa Cruz,” says Beauregard. “We didn’t have big box stores like you see today.”

While many may not know, this quaint Eastside storefront boasts an incredibly expansive history.

“Our customer service is the best in town. Everybody behind that counter- and throughout the store- is going to go the extra mile. It’s what we do.”

— Jim Beauregard, second-generation owner of Shopper’s Corner

Shopper’s Corner began in 1937 with the sale of one of Espindola markets to two of its store managers, Ed Calwell and Carl Schwartz. After a year of accumulated debt and hard times amidst the post-Depression era, the two couldn’t break even. In 1939, they sold the market to two other Espindola employees Emmett “Bud” Beauregard and Vincent Williams.

As the story goes, these young men in their early 20’s bought the market for a dollar, 50 cents apiece, and about a $6,000 debt. They signed their contract on butcher paper and shook hands over a pickle barrel. From there, they went on to build a competitive one-store grocery empire that sowed itself deep into the hearts of the Santa Cruz Community.

“They really know what they’re talking about and the friendliness harkens back to another time. They all know me by name and every one of them is eager to help. They want to give you what you want, however you want it.”

— Marisa Johnston, Westside resident and 10-year customer of Shopper’s Corner

Initially, they struggled to make ends meet. Half the men’s weekly salaries went straight to the County Bank to pay off their loan. Both men were whisked away in World War II for almost four years. Upon their return, the market wasn’t quite making it, but they were eager to transform it. Since then, business has grown nearly every year.

During the ‘70s, Beauregard’s son, Jim, who worked at the store as a boy, returned to run the shop. Beauregard bought Williams out in 1994, and since has transformed it into the specialty store that we know and love today by updating the mix of specialty foods and international foods while also increasing organic produce & natural food selection to meet customer demand.

Fast forward to today, where Jim’s son, Andre Beauregard, is leading Shopper’s Corner to even more unparalleled success as this niche market continues to thrive. In 2017, Andre got the store “Green Certified” and added 270 solar panels to the store’s roof which reduces their carbon footprint by nearly 100,000 pounds of carbon annually. While the family may have retained some of its unique trademarks, such as the iconic “Time to Shop” clock and vintage “Food Market Wines” sign and hardwood floors, Andre ensures that the store’s offerings inside continue to evolve and grow with its community’s wants and needs.

“Before we had social media, grocery stores were like community centers where you didn’t just go to get groceries. People came in daily to catch up on the news, talk sports, local gossip, see their friends and neighbors. We are lucky that we still have that kind of atmosphere here today.”

— Andre Beauregard, third-generation owner of Shopper’s Corner

This local gem happily celebrates their 85th anniversary this year having been passed down through the family for three generations. They are consistently voted Best Grocery Store, Butcher Shop and Wine Selection in Santa Cruz, and pride themselves on working with as many local vendors as possible.

Maintaining their nostalgic look and feel, along with the commitment of providing excellent customer service, Shopper’s Corner has always been and will be a place where locals can meet and shop for generations.