By Kevin Zimmerman
December 9, 2018
A pair of former Edible Arrangements executives are putting a new spin on that name by opening BD Provisions — offering what they call “a carefully curated collection” of bulk foods, coffee and health and beauty items — in Newtown.
“My wife and I were on vacation this past spring,” said co-founder John Boccuzzi at the 125 S. Main St. store. “We saw a bulk store that we kind of liked, but it wasn’t at all focused on being environmentally friendly. When we got back home we started talking it over and decided to try it ourselves, but with a more local angle — for example, our honey is produced within 100 miles of the store — and we try to make it as eco-friendly as possible.”
Most of Provisions’ wares — nuts, beans, pastas, spices, candy and grains — are stored in some 200 self-serve barrels, allowing customers to scoop what they want into biodegradable bags or reusable glass mason jars. Recipes for soup, brownies and the like are taped to the top of the barrel with the relevant ingredients to further cut down on paper. Customers simply photograph the recipe or can retrieve it from Provisions’ website.
The store also features a dozen artisanal olive oils and vinegars on tap.
One of its centerpieces is Midnight Joe, its own line of coffee beans, which sits alongside several others ranging from decaf to dark; Joe is named for an uncle of Boccuzzi’s who was rarely seen without a cup in his hand. His visage adorns the bags produced, with a larger version of the logo hanging near Provisions’ large coffee roaster. “He’s been gone for some time now,” Boccuzzi said, “but this was our way of paying a little tribute to him — his kids really like it.”
Boccuzzi’s background in consulting and branding includes nearly four years as vice president of sales, B2B gifting and customer care at Edible Arrangements, the Wallingford-based chain that produces fresh fruit arrangements similar to floral bouquets. There he met Tony DiPippa, now the former chief operating officer and chief financial officer at Edible. The duo, along with wives Cynthia and Tara, began seeking space around the county in April and opened on Nov. 10. (The Boccuzzis and DiPippas provide the “BD” in “BD Provisions,” he noted.)
“We’ve been Newtown residents for 22 years,” Boccuzzi said. “We looked at spaces in Westport, where Tony and Tara live, Wilton, Fairfield, South Norwalk and Southport, but (Newtown) really represents our roots. We knew the concept could work here and we believe in the town.”
Provisions is bringing additional traffic to Newtown’s Highland Plaza, a slow-to-fill commercial site anchored by the Fusion 25 Asian restaurant and Butcher’s Best meat market. According to Boccuzzi, the 2,000-square-foot store — 1,600 of which makes up the retail component — is easily surpassing the foot traffic he and DiPippa had forecast, with sales growing by double digits each week.
“We were a little surprised when we first opened,” he recalled. “People were coming in and looking around but not really buying very much — just a small amount of olive oil or flour. But pretty soon they started coming back and buying larger quantities. I had one customer who started out trying a half a cup of rice and now she’s coming back and buying it three pounds at a time.”
Provisions is also looking to expand into the wholesale business. Boccuzzi said he’s already made a deal with one local restaurant for coffee. The company is also open to customer suggestions for additional goods, which led to its plan to add homemade dog and horse treats soon.
Such success, Boccuzzi said, has almost inevitably led to talk of franchising the concept.
“We’ve had half a dozen people contact us about that already, including one from Hartford,” he beamed. “We’ll probably start exploring that in the first quarter of next year.” The idea would again be that additional stores would be within 100 miles of Newtown, to allow better control and in-person visits. Since Provisions manufactures its own furniture, additional stores would maintain a similar appearance, he said.