Author: Samar Ghai, BSU student
Bridgewater, Massachusetts is known as somewhat of a college town, because many people concentrated in the center of Bridgewater attend the University. I am one of those people, and I am a current junior at Bridgewater State, or BSU for short. When I transferred here in the spring of 2019, I only knew one person on campus, so I used to hang out with them. One time I asked him for a good place to go for lunch, and he told me to go to Bridgemart. I was confused, because I had driven by the place a few times and thought it was merely a convenience store. Little did I know, this business was a one stop shop. I decided to go in, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Since then, I go in every Sunday for a breakfast sandwich, stop there for snacks, and personally know the owner, Mr. Premal Patel. He always strives to give the best customer service, and commit to making the store look neat and organized.
Premal, or Prem for short, has owned and operated Bridgemart since 2016. He decided to start this type of business because of the local opportunities it presented, and because he wanted to start this type of business in a college town. When he first started this business, he wanted to make sure that he was making customers feel warm and welcome, and always putting new inventory into his stores. I posed the question to Prem, “if a customer had a choice between your store, or 3 others, why would you ask them to give yours a chance first?” His response was, “we give the best service, the store his kept clean and neat, there is always someone working to help customers, and even if we do not carry a specific item, we offer several alternatives or offer to order the item for the customer”. This shows how committed Prem is to running a successful small business in Bridgewater. As an owner, he loves to interact and talk to customers. He makes most of the food when the Deli is open, and I asked him if he likes the way he manages the store, and if he would change his managerial tactics. He said, “I want to create a family atmosphere where people can have a relationship with me, and walk in and say hi and be comfortable in the store”. Prem wants to be a hands on owner and loves to build relationships with customers, and that is what makes Bridgemart special and separates it from the competition.
In terms of adding new customers, Prem wants to add Bridgemart to food delivery apps such as UberEats and DoorDash, so customers can get meals delivered right to their house. This would give him free exposure through such apps and a middleman delivery service, which is a win-win. He also wants to start using social media more. Prem said that he wants to post more on the Facebook and Instagram page, in case he changes the deli menu or has new items. He would like to continue to bring in new customers to the deli side, because he believes that if someone likes the sandwiches they will continue to come to Bridgemart on lunch breaks, for breakfast, or anytime they want a quick bite to eat.
One of the last points I want to touch on is the upcoming menthol bans in the state of Massachusetts. Starting June 1st, there will be a menthol ban on smokeable products, and it directly affects businesses like Bridgemart. Their biggest profit margins are in smokeable products. 2020 has become tough for local convenience stores, due to these FDA bans and State Bans. I will continue to support my local Bridgemart, because they continue to give me the best service and treat me like family inside the store. He wants to be on social media more, to make sure people know when there has been a change to the menu, or any new products have been added to the store. Living in Bridgewater for me would not be the same without Bridgemart, and I want to see them continue to grow and get new customers every day.