NORTHFIELD — Marking a half century in any business is worthy of a celebration. Tilton Market, owned and operated by the second generation of the Senese family has notched 50 years as the go-to neighborhood market at the corner of Zion and Tilton roads in Northfield.
It began back in 1956 when Joe Guerrier opened Joe’s Market, and he later expanded the building and remained until 1970. Guerrier sold the business and the property to Rich Senese and Joe Mazzeo in 1970 and the two then opened the Tilton Market on Aug. 30, 1970.
Senese and Mazzeo operated the market together for 13 years. In 1983, Mazzeo sold his portion of the business to Senese. A year later, Senese renovated and expanded the market, adding 25 feet to the rear of the building and moving the entrance along with the parking to the rear of the building.
The original building had a flat roof and after lots of repairs the owners decided to change the roof and the look of the market and in 2004 the building had a complete facelift.
Northfield Mayor Erland Chau presented current owners Alisa Senese Kember and her brother Michael Senese with a proclamation on Saturday, Oct. 10 congratulating them on their milestone and their continuing to be a partner in Northfield’s success.
City Council President Frank Perri said, “Tilton Market is a part of Northfield. You know you can come here at the last minute and get something great for dinner. For holiday dinners, I got the crown roast here every year for Christmas.”
Alicia Garry echoed the sentiment adding, “Tilton Market is just where you go. They have whatever you need, it is so easy to get in and get out and you know all of the staff and they know you by name and that is special. Plus, you see all your neighbors here. I am so happy Tilton Market is right here in Northfield.”
Kember, who lives in Mullica Township said her days start around 3:30 a.m. and she is in the store long before the customers arrive to make sure everything operates at optimal level every day. She talked about when she began working in the market.
“I was just a kid; we all were when we started here. I worked as a cashier and stocking shelves. All four of my kids have worked here and will still come in if we are really busy and I need them, that’s what we do.” she said.
Both her brother Bob, now retired, and her brother Michael have had all of their kids working in some capacity in the store over the years. They stocked shelves, sliced lunch meat, made salads, packed the freezers, took out the trash and worked at the checkout.
Matt McLeish of Egg Harbor Township is the Tilton Market meat department manager.
“I have worked here for six years and I love my job. I really like serving the public,” said McLeish.
Back in the popular deli department, Lewis Johnson and Phoebe Pugh were busy slicing lunch meat, cheese and ladling up salads, soups and more during the busy lunch hour Saturday. Johnson has been on the deli crew for more than a year, and he said he likes the people and the pace of the job. Pugh is new to the deli and said she likes working with the customers.
Kember talked about some of the challenges of operating a family business, but said the pandemic was unlike anything she had seen before.
“Product became hard to get, and we really had to search to keep our shelves stocked and get what our customers wanted and needed,” said Kember. “I have a lot of wonderful customers who are elderly and who were really scared. They would call me and say they needed something. How can I let them down? I had to get creative and really track down some items, but we did it. We really do listen to our customers and do whatever we can for them.”
Tilton Market is also a place to see neighbors not just shopping, they are working the checkout and behind the deli counter. There are those who are on the first job, working along with those who have retired and want to work several days a week.
“They are all a part of the Tilton Market family, but I do love it when a kid comes in and we are able to give them their first job,” Kember said.
She reflected for a moment before running to answer a customer's question.
“I got to work with my dad, my brothers, my kids, my nieces and nephews and so many good people and our customers are great. I guess I probably know nine out of 10 customers by their first name, and that really is pretty special," she said.
Tilton Market is located at 1524 Tilton Road in Northfield and are open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Look for their daily specials on Facebook or visit www.tiltonmarket.com
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