Star Market was a New England chain of supermarkets owned by the Mugar family, based in Greater Boston. Through many mergers and acquisitions, Star Market eventually combined with Shaw’s Market, and in the end it became part of the SUPERVALU family of subsidiaries.
In 1918, Sarkis Mugar paid $800 for a small grocery store in Watertown, Massachusetts. Recently arriving from Armenia 12 years earlier in 1906, he embarked on his own personal quest to fulfill his American dream.
His son Stephen P. Mugar, (1901–1984), assisted him in his family endeavor, only to find himself running the whole operation when his father Sarkis abruptly passed away after a car accident in 1922. Stephen suddenly found himself supporting his mother and sisters in place of his father. Through his unending commitment to the Star Market, it quickly grew in size and quality, affording him success and prosperity that few at that time could enjoy.
Keeping success in the family, Stephen hired his first cousin, John M. Mugar, in the early 1930’s. As helpful as he was, Stephen still encouraging John to finish his education at Tuft’s University. John took his advice, and graduated magna cum laude in 1937 and served as a Trustee from 1966-1989. Over the years, the 2 got along very well, and eventually John took over the family business as President and Chairman of the Star family of stores.
At one point in their history together, John had to leave to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II, however, as soon as the war ended, he came right back home and continued his service to his cousin, helping him grow the store throughout the Boston region.
The Star Markets are credited with some innovative firsts in the supermarket industry, such as wrapping meats in cellophane to make them more appealing to their clients. They were also the first to implement the conveyor belt that moved the groceries to a central loading point near the parking lot. Star recognized that their patrons wanted self service, and a whole lot more. They wanted to be able to help themselves, without waiting for store personnel, but also have someone available to help if they needed it. The Star Market chain recognized this requirement among their patrons, and found a way to accommodate them. For this reason, people came from long distances to find what they needed at the Star Markets.
John M. Mugar found himself in a new adventure in 1964, when the Star Market Company was combined with Chicago’s Jewel Tea Company, who wisely decided to retain the Star name and logo. They not only took control of Star Markets, but held on to Mr. Mugler as well; another very smart business move to their credit. Mr. Mugler stayed on as their Chairman until 1978.
Now that Star Market was enjoying added success, the Jewel Company decided to come up with a new concept that included a food and drug store chain. This new chain was branded “Star-Osco”, and went on to grow and expand with equal success for all those involved.
Eventually Jewel was bought out by American Stores in 1984, and the Star-Osco brand was returned to simply Star Markets, directed and controlled by one management team. This team operated quite well for several years, but was then sold in 1994 to Investcorp, and the ‘Osco’ brand was set aside at least for the time being.
Investcorp hired then president of Staples, Henry Nasella, to be the Chairman and CEO of Star Markets, where he remained for several years. Under his leadership, Star Markets expanded the supermarket chain to include specialty brands through Wild Harvest.
Another large and well known investor named Sainsbury’s eventually bought the Star Market chain from Investcorp in 1999, for $490 million. These were hectic times, and this turnover was soon turned over again when Albertsons bought Sainsbury’s American supermarket assets in 2004. This included Star Markets, and the Star-Osco brands, so these two well acquainted companies could be reunited again together in one corporate house.
In 2006, SUPERVALU, CVS, Cerberus Capital and other investors took control of Albertson’s with the goal of dividing it all up into smaller, more manageable divisions. SUPERVALU ended up with the Shaw’s and Star Market chains.
Because of the local history associated with the Star Market name, Shaw’s made the announcement that in August of 2008, the former Shaw’s at 1065 Commonwealth Avenue in Allston would have its official grand re-opening as a Star Market. This was approximately 8 years after it had its name changed to Shaw’s.
Headquarters: Operating under the Shaw’s Market, headquartered in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts.
No. of Stores: approximately 60 throughout Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. (2010)
No. of Employees: unknown
Geography: Greater Boston/ New England
Special Services: Bakery, dairy, deli, floral, frozen foods, grocery, organic, liquor, meat, pharmacy, produce, seafood, snacks, sushi
most national brands, as well as several of their own; Wild Harvest , Farm Stand® fresh produce, Stone Ridge Creamery® real ice cream.
Acme, Albertson’s, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh Food and Pharmacy, The Market, Hornbachers, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Osco Pharmacy, Sav-On Pharmacy, Save-A-Lot, Shaw’s, Shop n’ Save, Shopper’s, SuperValu