Modica Market celebrates 30 years in Seaside By Wendy O. Dixon
Modica Market, which opened March 17, 1989 by Charles Modica Sr. and his wife, Sarah, began with a simple deal-sealing handshake between Modica and Seaside founder Robert Davis, and has since flourished into one of the most recognizable businesses along Highway 30A. As the market celebrates three decades in business, the next generation of Modicas — Charles Modica Jr. and Carmel Modica — run the store together.
However, it’s not just what’s on the shelves of the gourmet grocery store that draws both locals and visitors all year round to its wide selection of specialty meats and its extensive collection of wines and craft beers.
Charles Modica Jr., co-owner of Modica Market, has transformed one of the town’s first establishments into a hotspot for dining and socializing.
“We have a lot of history in small town neighborhood stores, and what those responsibilities are to those communities,” Modica, whose family previously owned a grocery store in Alabama, says. “Markets like this are kind of unique not only for food and drink but for socializing, for family gatherings, for children having their first jobs.”
Before he passed away in 2010, Charles Sr., who was considered one of the town’s founding fathers, was a recognizable face among community members, known for his bushy white beard and kind, inviting smile.
Before becoming an official Modica Market employee, Charlie Modica Jr., a 21-year-old entrepreneur, opened a small food-and-drink shop with help from Robert Davis. For seven years, Sip n’ Dip served ice cream, beer and sandwiches on Seaside’s sandy beach. Eventually, Modica shut down the business to work at the grocery store.
Keeping with the current theme of New Urbanism, Modica said he is a major supporter of easy accessibility and community involvement. Over the years, the business has also become a hub for the local children, who walk to the store after school to enjoy fresh baked cookies and leftover doughnuts from that morning.
“In the very beginning, when there weren’t a lot of businesses here, it was one of those situations where it was an easy walk for the kids to get to our store,” Modica says. “It was an independence for them, and the parents knew they were secure with us being here watching over them.”
The store functions not only for Seaside but for the community as well. Sarah Modica serves as the store’s ambassador, greeting customers and working in the Seaside community to help maintain close relationships that are vital to the town. People can find comfort knowing that one of the Modicas will be in the store to greet them as they walk in or say goodbye as they leave.