Pronio’s Market Beginnings
In 1912 Michele Pronio arrived in New York from Introdacqua, Italy. In June of 1913 when she was 15 years old, Rose Crugnale also came from Introdacqua with her mother and two younger brothers to live in New York City. Things were difficult at first as Michele could not speak English. Michele ventured into several businesses and began dating Rose. In 1919, Michele’s brother Fred who had settled in Hershey, Pennsylvania a few years earlier and was in the Hershey Band, told him of a small grocery business in nearby Spring Creek that was for sale.
Fred Pronio with Trumpet
Michele then bought the business and he and Rose ran the operation in the front of their home near what is now Chocolate World.
Michele Pronio outside of the Original Store
This parlor store offered a variety of goods to the community. Few residents owned cars at this time so the Pronios filled and delivered orders throughout the growing town. In addition, the delivery truck would double as a school bus for the town’s children. This personalized service would help the business to thrive.
By 1929, Rose and Michele’s family was growing as was their business. Through hard work and discipline, the Pronios were able to build a new and much larger structure on the corner of Valley Road and West Caracas Avenue. The two story structure housed the business on the lower level while Rose, Michele and their three children occupied the second floor.
Rose and Michele Pronio
Children (left to right) Vince, Elvira, Gloria
The business continued as a general store, carrying everything from shoes to groceries and everything in between. Every fall Michele would bring in grapes for the many Italian families in the area to make their own wine. This was a tradition that was carried on for many years.
Pronios General Store
(Left to right) Michele, Gloria, Vince, Frank Colangelo
The Pronio family and their business weathered the Great Depression and, in fact, “carried” many families through it. There are many stories of how customers’ bills were “forgiven” when a family was unable to pay for their groceries. It was a very difficult time for so many and the Pronio’s generosity was never forgotten.
The couple’s three children, Elvira, Vince, and Gloria, helped in the store as well. Life was busy but good with many shared holidays and vacations with Michele’s brother, Fred Pronio and his family who lived in the adjacent home. When WWII erupted, Vince entered the Navy and served in the South Pacific. Elvira and Gloria married and Vince, upon his return from duty, found that his father wanted to retire and hand the business over to him. Changing with the times, Vince restructured the store and made it into a self service grocery.
Pronio and Modesto Families
Fred Pronio’s daughter, Alma Pronio was married to Aldo Modesto. Aldo had worked for Hershey and had also served in the war. Upon his return from the war, Michele Pronio urged Aldo to join his son Vince in the managing and running of the business, The two officially took over the store in 1947.
Over the years the business continued to thrive due to both Vince and Aldo’s hard work and the pair’s emphasis on quality goods and excellent service. In 1963, they decided to build a larger and more modern grocery store diagonally across the street from their current location.
Vince and Aldo at New Store Location
A large parking lot was added to accommodate the many customers and their cars. Needless to say, the children of both Aldo and Alma Modesto and Vince and Ronnie Pronio were expected to work at the store. Michael Pronio, eldest son of Vince and Ronnie, worked in the store upon his completion of college. After Aldo Modesto retired in 1978, Michael joined Vince as his partner. With Vince’s passing in 2014, Michael took over the running of the store and continues to do so today. His four children all helped in the store during their teen years and beyond. The kids, now grown adults, will return from all corners of the country to help their father during the busy Christmas season. Pronio’s has continued to thrive in large part due to the dedication of family members, hard work, quality products and excellent customer service.
Pronio’s Market Today
Pronio’s prides itself on offering only quality meats. Trained meat cutters will prepare cuts to your specifications. In addition, meats are ground fresh daily. Pronio’s deli offers many delicious and unique items made in house. At the check out, your groceries are bagged and carried out to your car. Personalized service and quality meats and groceries will continue to serve both Pronio’s and the community well for the next 100 years.