Family-Owned Grocery Store is an Authentic Lifeline in Guthriesville
In a society speckled with superstores, Crop’s Fresh Marketplace is an authentic lifeline. The 3rd generation, family owned and independent grocery store was started in 1953 by Robert Cropper. Back then, the market was called Croppers IGA and operated in a small space on the corner of route 322 and Bondsville Road. Over the years, the market grew, expanded and changed names; ultimately moving into the Brandywine Village Shopping Center in Guthriesville.
“My dad started a little corner store, I worked beside him and the kids grew up at the store. It is a family tradition now; it is what we do” says John Cropper, 2nd generation grocer.
The grocery store is a local staple for the surrounding neighbors. “It’s important for our customers to get to know us, the family, and our management team. You can find someone to talk to in our store,” says Chad Cropper (3rd generation) and current Director of Operations at Crop’s, “We want everyone to feel welcome and comfortable.” Building this familiarity comes down to 3 key features according to Chad; cleanliness, friendly atmosphere with excellent customer service and a high-quality selection of food.
With around 150 employees, the marketplace is led by a dynamic family team, with siblings, Chad as Director of Operations, Amanda works on Marketing and Melissa is Accounting. The crew prides itself on staying on the cutting edge while maintaining the values and service their grandfather set. “We call it the Crop’s way.”
The team focuses on the tried-and-true benefits of recognizing what their customers want and customizing their inventory to fit the community. These features of the market are what really set them apart from chain and big-box competitors; friendly service from people you know and trust. “We have a large variety of options, in addition to our IGA store brand products” says Melissa. Crop’s is adaptive to shelving goods from local sources and honoring the resources our county has right in our backyard. “We like to work with local vendors and farms to feature specialty items on our shelves that are unique to our area,” says Chad.
The market totes its own in-house butcher who provides specialty cuts every day. Chad says, “you don’t have many cutters around anymore, this is the quality in option we like at Crop’s.” A big focus is on premium meats to make sure they’re offering the best around. “Our grandfather started the business based around meat. It’s always been our calling card. We want to continue to be a destination for fresh cut meat in Chester County.” The store is also home to a new electric smoker that cooks up pulled pork, brisket, chicken and ribs hot to order every day.
To meet the shifting landscape of grocery shopping, Crop’s understood that they needed to be fluid with change. They launched an online ordering service that allows shoppers to order from home and have curbside pick-up. “We built a new processing and pick-up area to accommodate the new program.” Shoppers can also join the Crop’s Family-Owned Rewards program, a loyalty card that delivers savings and incentives. Melissa says, “We’re the next generation of grocers in the family, our history is very important to us, so is continuing to find new ways to enhance our services and build for the future.” She adds that they have an online service that allows shoppers to order their custom cakes from their in-house bakery, as well.
There is no gap between business and community when it comes to Crops. “It is important for us to be a part of the community and do anything we can for them as they have supported us through the years by shopping with us” says John Cropper. Crop’s engages in ongoing partnerships that provide direct donations to area food pantries in Coatesville, Downingtown and Honey Brook. The market also has food bank donation bags at the front of the store for shoppers to donate. Recently they have done fundraising for Relay for Life, A Haven, SPCA and local sports teams to list a few. During the pandemic, the market helped to fill demands by donating antibacterial products and face masks to first responders in East and West Brandywine Police Departments and local fire companies as well as the Chester County and Brandywine Hospitals. “We always look for organizations we can work with to get involved in our community” says Chad.
An independent grocery store of this size is almost unheard of these days. Crop’s is part of the Independent Grocers Alliance (IGA) which provides them with the ability to better compete, while also allowing them to stay true to who they are—hometown store owners in a position to meet the needs of their community. IGA helps Crop’s with different warehouse needs, technical support and marketing resources. Chad says, “We’re proud to have the IGA label because the quality is excellent.” Crop’s is also a member of Family Owned Markets, a group of 9 independent family owned stores that all work together to share resources and co-generate deals and promotions together. Being part of this group also allows buying power when the store is working on securing new products.
The Cropper family is committed to staying a neighborhood market, overcoming and adapting to meet the needs of their neighbors. Visit Crop’s Fresh Marketplace at 1257 Horseshoe Pike, Downingtown and find great recipes online at cropsmarketplace.com.