John C. Elia was 16 years old when he came by himself to America from Albania in 1898. When he arrived in the states, he did not speak English, and had no formal education. He made his way to Boston where there was a sizable Albanian population.
With a loan from an Uncle of 7 dollars, John bought a pushcart and a load of bananas. In his first week in business he made seven dollars and his business was launched. From the pushcart, his business evolved into selling produce from a horse and carriage and then a truck. In 1923, he bought a home and store in Wilmington, Massachusetts and worked alongside his wife and 3 children (John Jr., Michael (Mike), & Helen).
John Elia’s children followed in his entrepreneurial spirit. In 1956, John Jr. bought what was then Buck’s Brother’s Store from Walter Buck. Elia’s Country Store was born. Mike joined his brother at the store after he got out of the army in 1957.
The store initially sold grain, produce and hardware. A pot-bellied stove in the center of the store was the focal point. The store would open at 7am and commuters would gather around the coal burning stove for warmth and talk with “the Elia Brothers”. A real sense of community developed.
The original store has been replaced by a new building. It is now run day-to-day by Mike’s children, although Dad is still involved. Although we are best known for our quality butcher shop and prepared food offerings, there is still a strong sense of community that existed years ago.