When it opened in 1947, Armando “Eddie” Pacheco called his store “Reliable Self-Service Market” because at the time, it was uncommon for customers, rather than clerks, to pick their own items from the shelves. The trend caught on, and while the other five markets on Circuit Avenue withered, Mr. Pacheco bought three other buildings and a spot for a parking lot (hence the uneven floors and aisles). Today, the store is owned by Eddie Pacheco’s son Robert, who shares the responsibilities with his wife, son, and daughter.
When did you first start taking responsibilities at the store?
After school, helping my dad since I was maybe 12.
What has changed about the store over the years?
A lot of the product lines have changed, but especially the technology. It was a big deal to get scanning registers and digital scales.
What has stayed a staple of the business from the start?
We have a lot of long-time employees, and long-time customers. We like to think that we give personal service, that we know our customers. We have a great local Island customer base from all the towns.
What’s the most challenging part of running a business on the Vineyard?
That’s a hard question. It’s all challenging, but you come in and give it your best every day. Come in tomorrow and do the same thing.
What’s it like working so closely with your family?
We have a fairly good sized store, so we’re kind of broken up into our own departments. I work mostly in the meat department with my son, my daughter works mostly at the front, and my wife works in the back office taking care of the books, payroll, and things like that. Naturally we all work together, but it’s not like we’re side by side in a small room.
What are some of the benefits of having a family business?
We’ve been doing it for so long, it comes second nature.
What do you love about your Oak Bluffs location?
It’s a great central location. We have the post office and the hardware store, and Linda Jean’s, which are all convenient neighbors. Phillips has been our neighbor since we started in 1947. We used to be in the store where Basics is now, but even when we moved, we just moved to the other side of Phillips. They’ve been on one side or the other for sixty-something years.
What is your most memorable experience at the store?
Sometimes you get a little brushed up when there’s a hurricane or extreme weather condition, but you just deal with it. Hurricane Bob was a crazy day to be at work. My customers really don’t panic that much, but you still know on those days they will want to get to the store. So you try to do your best to serve them when they get here.
Do you ever have issues getting your deliveries to the Island?
We own our own tractor trailer, so we do it ourselves, picking things up from a distribution center in New Hampshire. We have a very good driver, so it works pretty smoothly, and we always have control over it.
What are your plans for the future of the business? Will it stay in the family?
I don’t plan any big changes. Both my children are working in the business, and they seem interested in it. We do remodels and updates as we go along, but our location makes it hard for us to do any major expansions.
What sets Reliable apart from other grocery stores on the Island?
We have a personalized butcher department, we do a lot of cut-to-order meats, marinated and stuffed products, store made meatballs and meatloaf. Things like that are not as easy to come by in other stores.
What would your parents say about the business today?
I think they’d get a chuckle out of it if they saw the store crowded, saw their grandkids working hard. They’d get a chuckle out of it.
In a good way?
Yeah, in a good way.