When the SouthCoast Was Dotted With Fernandes Supermarkets
Supermarkets and supermarket chains tend to come and go. Fernandes Super Market, Inc. was a Norton-based regional chain with stores in Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
I recall two Fernandes Super Markets in New Bedford, one on Rockdale Avenue, where the New Bedford Police Department headquarters are now. The other was at the intersection of Route 140 and Acushnet Avenue north of Pa Raffa's.
There may have been a Fernandes Super Market on Cove Road and one on Dartmouth Street, but I'm not sure. There was a Fernandes Super Market in Fairhaven, but I don't recall where.
The Claire T. Carney Library at UMass Dartmouth says, "There is no official history of the founding and running of Fernandes Super Market, Inc." The library has pieced together what it has learned about the company.
After serving in the military and graduating from Boston University, Joseph Fernandes "took over his father's small grocery and butcher shop" in 1947. The original store opened on West Main Street in Norton in 1933.
According to the library, "For the next 32 years, he slowly, but assuredly grew the initial single store into a total of 37 Fernandes Super Markets." The family-owned the supermarket chain from 1947 to 1979.
Fernandes sold the chain to Springfield Sugar in 1979. The library says, "It's not clear why the chain was sold," though a daughter suggested labor disputes might have been a part of it. The company filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 1978.
The first New Bedford store may have opened in 1960.
An interesting tidbit: as of 2020, none of the buildings that house Fernandes Super Markets are grocery stores.