Odds are, you’ve driven by Pio Market thousands of times, but unless you live in the 46805 neighborhood, you may not realize what a treasure it is. In an era of mega supermarkets, it’s a throwback to another era. Located at 1225 East State Blvd, it’s been in business for 101 years.
For the past 39 years, it’s been under the ownership of Neal Butler. Butler bought the store from Bob and Lela Pio who had the market for 30 years. Butler was a 15-year old student at North Side High School in 1973 when he stopped in the store to see if they needed any help. It turns out they did. The Pio’s asked him to come back later the same day and he never left. With a loan from his parents, Butler bought the store from the Pio’s in 1982 when they were ready to retire.
By design, little has changed over the years. Pio’s Market specializes in fine meats and deli products. Butler goes out of his way to keep things the way they were. In an era where many think bigger is better, Butler says the opposite approach to the modern supermarket works for him. “They have their way of getting people to come back, but we have our own way of keeping our customers happy.”
Great products and customer service from the staff of five keeps the regulars coming back year after year. Jerry Fabini, the so-called “Meat Stylist”, knows a thing or two about neighborhood stores. He owned Redding’s Meat Market on the corner of Rivermet and Oneida for ten years. He’s worked at Pio’s for the last 17 years. Fabini banters back and forth with customers with a quick, sarcastic wit that fills the store with laughter. Fabini says Pio’s Market is a little niche in history, and Butler takes care of his people and customers the right way. “It’s the only job he’s ever had. He’s a fixture here. He is Pio Market.”
Dar Shaw has worked at the store the past six years. She says “It’s kind of like Little House on the Prairie or the Waltons.” Stepping inside the doors, it’s hard to argue. Butler knows the charm of the place is what keeps the business humming along after all these years. “If they’re looking for the newest and greatest thing, they’re probably not going to shop here.”
It’s why Neal Butler and Pio Market are Positively Fort Wayne!