September 19, 2014

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Lorain family-owned supermarket named Ohio’s best

Ben Fligner’s Fligner's Supermarket in Lorain was honored by the Ohio Grocers Association as the best store in the state. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

Ben Fligner’s Fligner’s Supermarket in Lorain was honored by the Ohio Grocers Association as the best store in the state. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

LORAIN — For the second year in a row, the Ohio Grocers Association has honored a Lorain County supermarket with its highest honor.

Fligner’s Supermarket in Lorain received the OGA’s 2014 Pinnacle Award. In 2013, the association recognized Village Market in Wellington with the honor for a multi-store operation.

Known for its custom-cut, full-service meat counter as well as specialty foods from Poland, Italy, Mexico and Germany, Fligner’s won the honor in the single-store category.

Ben Fligner, president and co-owner of Fligner’s Market, which was started in 1924 by grandfather Morris Fligner and great-grandfather Harry Fligner, credited the recognition to several factors including merchandising, creativity, human resources and community relations.

“We have always been very community-oriented and we care about our employees,” Fligner said. “We always look to bring the freshest products to market.”

Chief examples of that include buying beef from cattle raised on farms in the Oberlin area, as well as a recently added smokehouse for the store’s new smoked meat business.

“Those are the difference-makers for us,” Fligner said. “We strive to utilize the whole local economy. When people buy meat from Fligner’s, a lot of people benefit. The money stays in the county and goes back to local farmers.”

The familiar Broadway store opened as the Lorain Cut-Rate Fruit Co. before changing its name to Fligner’s as part of an expansion of its food items in 1933.

Known as one of the last independent supermarkets competing against today’s mega-chains, Fligner’s 35,000-square-foot operation underwent a notable expansion in 2009 with the addition of Great Lakes Smoked Meats, a $1.5 million, 7,000-square-foot meat processing operation whose nine workers make 1,200 pounds of sausages and smokies each day.

Located adjacent to Fligner’s Supermarket, the smoked meats venture was itself recognized by the Ohio Department of Agriculture in 2013 as an exemplary example of the state’s 1,100-plus food processing firms that employ some 60,000.

Great Lakes Smoked Meats anticipated an eventual doubling of production and creation of more jobs thanks to an interstate commerce agreement executed in 2013 between state and federal agriculture departments allowing sales outside Ohio by small and/or specialty meat processing firms inside Ohio that employ 25 or fewer workers.

The smoked meat business counts the region’s 60-some Marc’s stores at its biggest customer.

With about 110 employees between the supermarket and smoked meats business, Fligner’s has worked to keep employees around for long periods of time by paying medical insurance costs and providing a retirement program.

“Based on the whole industry, you keep people a lot longer that way,” Fligner said.

OGA President Nate Filler will present the Pinnacle Award to Ben Fligner and his father, Kel, during a March 4 presentation at the store.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.


  • luvmytoaster

    Congratulations! What a well deserved honor!

  • ekwaykway

    Great store and employer! Too bad the biggest challenge shopping there is making it back to your car alive.

    • jim jananavin

      The homeless shelter around the corner keeps the parking lot full of panhandlers.. My 81 year old mother loves the store but I worry about her all the time when she goes. Only thing good about it, is that they walk her out to load her groceries.

      • ekwaykway

        I shopped there a few years ago and saw a few scary looking characters in the parking lot. Good thing your mom and customers get an escort to their cars.

    • jz

      Been there a hundred times and never felt threatened. Big scarredy cat.

      • ekwaykway

        Lucky you, born with eyes in the back of your head eh?

        • jz

          I don’t know, It just doesn’t seem that bad to me. A couple old drunks here some honey boo boos there.

          • ekwaykway

            Lol, I’m not afraid to shop there, afterall I was born and raised in South Lorain. I visit my old hometown from time to time and sadly it has really gone to pot. Sad to see so many places like Bob’s Donuts and Chicken gone. Hang in there Fligners, better days are coming, I hope. :/

          • jz

            And the old George and Daisy’s bar on East 28th street. Can,t beat Fligners. Italian sausage better than any at clevelands west side market.

          • ekwaykway

            You got that right! Spent a lot of time in George & Daisy’s when I worked in the bar mill. Those truly were the good old days for sure. George used to say we made more steel in his bar with all the shop talk than we made across the street.

  • Phil Blank

    Great Hungarian sausage too, spicy.

  • HankKwah

    Love the store and the service is great. Just wish the cashiers were a little more friendly. A number of them aren’t the most congenial.

  • Sharon Covelli-Wysong

    Way to Go Ben and Dad, and the family. Have always enjoyed shopping there. I just have one question. Is the meat you sell antibiotic free? I have long wondered that.

  • ched

    Way to go…..Allways buy my meat from Fligners. It’s also nice to see the smoked meat in Marc’s Stores now. Keep the County & Ohio Market running!

  • Bob Owens

    A true “job creator”.

  • stillsleepyeyes

    Now only if they could get Ben to be mayor…………Lorain would have a chance………………

  • susan hill brown

    Congratulations! Top quality meat and workers. Glad to see that Kel and Ben get the recognition they deserve. Thank you.

    • beety

      I guess you have never seen behind the counter!

  • silkskin1960

    His non perishables are high in price, but he’s got the best meat in town…by far

    • beety

      Really? … you just said he has the best meat in town? Lmao!

      • silkskin1960

        Maybe YOU dont know NON-PARISHABLE means!

      • silkskin1960

        Maybe YOU DONT KNOW what NON-PERISHABLE means. I suggest you google it before you make a total and complete idiot of yourself….. lmao @ that

        • beety

          I’m only concerned with his meat ,just as you are. Hehehe! It took two tries for your awesome comeback?

          • silkskin1960

            What can i say? I believe in correct…….try it sometimes

          • beety

            12 hours later? You’re putting way too much thought into this:)

  • susan hill brown

    Congratulations to Kel, Ben and all the employees. Job well done.

  • Tammy Hoskins

    I come from Galion ,Ohio to Fligners to buy meat,ethnic;s and have to have a cream puff from the deli!Love your store!