Thanks to Fremont News-Messenger for this original
article dated March 19, 2014
Ballville E-Z Shop has been a family-run business since 1981. It is a point of pride for its current owner, Steve Karlovetz, who bought the business from his parents in 2001. “We’ve been very fortunate,” he said.
“Mom and Pops don’t stick around anymore.”
The shop, at 1512 River St., was originally a small meat market before it was purchased by his parents, Karlovetz said. After its original owner passed away, Karlovetz’s father, Richard Karlovetz, would sit outside to get an idea of the amount of traffic that passed through the area. Finding it sufficient, he purchased the business with his wife, Barbara Karlovetz.
Karlovetz said he did not change much when he took over the shop.
“I just built on their philosophy, and that’s about it,” he said. “They knew what they were doing. Pay attention to what the customer wants, and pay attention to your business if you want to stay in it.”
Although his parents retired, Karlovetz said his mother still works part-time at the shop, where she bakes and helps in other areas.
Karlovetz said he works seven days a week, and the shop has not been closed in 22 years — not even on Christmas.
“Christmas Day is the day I get thanked the most,” he said. “I do it for the customers. There’s nobody else open and they always forget something, but we’re here.”
The E-Z shop is “famous” for its prime ribs during the holidays, Karlovetz said, and their meat selection is a best-seller, year-round with about 50 different lunchmeat selections. Karlovetz said he buys many of his meats locally from Tanks Meats.
“My number one priority when it comes to meats is no hormones,” he said. “I just think that’s where we’re getting a lot of our cancers.”
The shop also offers fresh chicken and pork, but the most popular item by far is ground chuck.
“In 31 years, I don’t think there’s a day gone by where someone doesn’t compliment it,” Karlovetz said.
The shop also houses a deli. All dishes are homemade in the store, and there are about 75 selections depending on the time of year. Potato and macaroni salads are customer favorites, and the recipes have been in the family for 30 years.
“Each year we add a little more,” Karlovetz said. “Cookie trays, pastry trays, fruit trays, vegetable trays — anything for any occasion.”
The shop also has a seafood selection, including crab legs, lobster and shrimp.
A convenience store and drive-thru are attached to the shop, carrying about 90 different local and imported wines, craft beers and basic necessities like milk and eggs.
“We carry anything they can pick up and go instead of driving downtown or anywhere else,” Karlovetz said. The drive-thru comes in handy for disabled customers who can call in their orders and pick them up without ever having to leave their car.
The E-Z shop employs about 20 people, and some have worked there for more than a decade.
“That’s part of our success,” Karlovetz said. “I have long-term, good, loyal employees.”
Katherine Collins, who has worked as a clerk at the shop for 15 years, said all the customers know who she is and she knows all the customers.
“They’re like family,” she said. “It’s a close-knit atmosphere. You know all the customers and what their kids are doing.”
That close-knit atmosphere is what appeals to customers.
“They absolutely love us,” Karlovetz said. “Small businesses like this have come and gone, and they’re mostly gone. In order to keep a business going like this you have to have a one-on-one relationship with your customers. I listen to them,” Karlovetz said. “If they come and say, ‘Hey Steve, your hamburger is a little too fatty,’ I’ll make sure it gets taken care of right away.”
Looking to the future, Karlovetz said he wants to work more with hot foods and fresh subs. When it comes time to retire, he hopes one of his long-term employees will take over.
“They would know what they’re getting into,” he said.
While keeping his parents’ legacy and influence on the shop intact, Karlovetz said in 2011 he added more coolers, an office, a cutting room and expanded the kitchen. He said it was to keep up with the growth of the business, but otherwise not much has changed.
“If you love what you’re doing, you’re going to be successful,” he said. “That was the number one thing they taught me.”