Ted’s IGA Celebrates 50 Years of Growth & Community

Jun 24, 2024

When Ted’s IGA opened its doors to the public in February of 1974, new owners Ted Armata and his son Todge might have been stepping into business together for the first time, but they were certainly not grocery store newcomers. Rather, both had been raised in the aisles, as Ted’s father had opened the family’s first store in Holyoke, Massachusetts in 1932 called Churchhill Market. The Armata family then expanded into a group of five stores across Connecticut and Massachusetts. These were operated and known as Armata’s Markets.

Todge and his brother David have fond memories of growing up in the industry, including when their grandfather introduced one of the first refrigerated retail cases, a technological marvel in those days. As kids, they would spend hours completing inventory, making deliveries to their five locations, or ringing up orders with the hand cranked register.

When Ted and Todge took control of their own store in Hebron, Connecticut, the town was just 5,000 people, though it has grown to 9,000 today. The area joke is that Hebron has more cows than people. David joined the team full-time in 1980. In 1982, Ted’s officially became Ted’s IGA.

Fast forward a few decades, and the third generation of the Armata family is now onboard. Todge’s daughter Jen works in the courtesy booth at the front and David’s son Steven works in the bakery department.

Growth and Expansion

Although the original store was small at just 10,000 square feet, the Armatas always envisioned bigger things. Ted made sure to keep two walls clear of HVAC, mechanical, and piping systems to more easily accommodate expansion. Today, the store has more than doubled to 22,000 square feet.

Impressively, through two expansions, they never closed their doors. Instead, they knocked holes in the walls and connected steel so that they could continue the structure without disrupting the existing interior.

It hasn’t just been the exterior that has seen major updates over the years. Following in Todge and David’s grandfather’s footsteps, the family continues to embrace new technology. Ted’s was one of the first stores that was host supported for NCR scanning. They also use electronic shelf tags, rewards programs, and consumer targeting.

As a result, they have developed several unique offerings, such as their milk program, which provides customers with a free gallon of milk after they purchase ten, and they have extended their senior citizen discount to Monday through Friday — a big differentiator when surrounding stores limit the discount to just one day per week.

There are, however, strategic limits to their technological adoption. Self-scanners, for example, are not in the plan. Instead, Ted’s embraces the human touch with friendly cashiers, baggers and carry out service. They believe that top notch-customer service is truly their biggest differentiator.

Armata FamilyThe Armata family

Unique Offerings

All departments also offer a number of unique products. 

The deli department, which boasts the best fried chicken in the area, is one stand out. Their prepared foods and daily dinners, including the house roast beef and rotisserie chicken, are also popular offerings.

In the bakery, there are two desserts that really set them apart: their signature cream pies with real whipped cream and their signature blueberry muffins made with fresh berries from the local blueberry farm.

Another pride of Ted’s is the meat department. Unlike most stores that locate the meat toward the back of the store, Ted’s meat department is the first thing you see when you enter. They believe that having a strong, center-of-the- plate meat image reinforces the fresh meal concept and enhances the consumer's shopping journey.

Ted’s also has a number of unique seasonal offerings. Customers flock to the store for the greenhouse in May and June, which offers organic plants, mulch, and bedding materials from local producers Gilberties Plants and seeds from Wethersfield's Hart Seed Company.

Their pumpkin patch is popular in September and October, which culminates on Halloween when people make the quarter-mile walk on Main Street to visit the store and local businesses during the annual Trick or Treat festivities.

They also host regular classic car shows, featuring live bands in support of local charities.

Giving Back

Ted’s IGA's relationship with the community is of paramount importance to them.

“We are so proud to be able to give back to the town of Hebron, local events in the community, and are honored to be part of this town," they told us.

The store sponsors golf tournaments, provides food for community events, supports AHM youth services, and sponsors everything from the local Lion’s Club to youth sports. They have also held kids festivals and even sent two kids to NASA space camp.

About a year and a half ago, the plaza that Ted’s is located in suffered a devastating fire. Thanks to the valiant efforts of the fire department, they never had to close and damage to the store was minimal. Every other store in the plaza, however, was shut down for more than a year. Thankfully, all are now back open. Ted’s, in their normal giving fashion, held a fundraiser for the fire department, featuring dunk tanks, hot dogs, and raffles.

Teds Collage

Building their Unique Brand

Another unmistakable differentiator is the family themselves. They bring their positivity and exuberance to the store every day and reflect it in their digital presence as well. They report that they have received lots of traction from what they call “goofy” reels, including one in which Jen put their famous cream pie in Todge’s face. Their online presence, including YouTube and Facebook, reflects this brand with lots of videos and pictures featuring the family and employees.


The brothers also credit the IGA programs, such as the IGA Coca-Cola Institute, for helping them maintain their success.

“We do appreciate what IGA has done for us and we wear this IGA logo on our shirts with pride,” Todge explained.

They also note that the IGA Assessment visits help them be better business owners and they are proud to have been a Five Star store since the conception of the program.

Celebrating Five Decades

While Ted’s has so many events and promotions that everyday seems like a bit of a celebration, they are amplifying it even more this year for their 50th anniversary.

To mark the occasion, Ted’s is offering special sales and giveaways, including gift cards, grills, coolers, skateboards, and even overnight stays at hotel rooms. They are also featuring demos and samplings throughout the stores. Of course, they plan to tie in their normal festivities, such as car shows and a sidewalk sale. And since no good celebration would be complete without a special outfit, they had 50 year anniversary t-shirts printed up.

image2Ted's IGA 50th Anniversary logo t-shirt on Amy, an associate

Asked about the secret to 50 years in business, the brothers agree that they couldn’t have done it without their amazing employees, six of whom have been at the store for 40+ years. They even have second generation employees working there today. They say it creates a family atmosphere, with generations of people growing up seeing the same faces year after year.

And, of course, they couldn’t do it without their customers.

“The customers really are phenomenal — they ask about my kids, and look at pictures,” Jen explained. "There’s really nothing like it, it’s truly like and extended family.”

Todge and David couldn’t agree more, adding, “We really are a hometown market. It’s a community here. It really is unique.”

And with the third generation already working there, Ted’s IGA looks to be in good hands today and as it moves into the next 50 years.

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