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Sonoma Market manager to retire

After 43 years in the grocery business, and nine years at Sonoma Market, the West Napa Street store’s general manager Al Minero, 62, has announced that Saturday will be his last day… for now.

Minero and his wife, Michelle, leave next week for a series of trips, first to Hawaii, then New Mexico, Grand Canyon, Sedona, Southern California, with maybe even a stop at Disneyworld.

“I have never taken off more than two weeks in my entire career, so I’m really excited,” Minero said from the market on Thursday.

Michelle Minero retired in June and Al said that, even before that, he has been mulling retirement.

“I have been talking about it long before even the acquisition (by Nugget of Sonoma Market in early 2016),” he said.

“But let’s see if my wife gets tired of me,” he laughed.

Kate Stilles of Nugget Market described Minero’s departure as more of a sabbatical. She says that the management team hopes he’ll decide to return and the door is always open.

“Al has been an integral part of Sonoma Market for a really long time,” she said. “We hope he will return but we respect his decision.”

“Al is really special and he stands for everything that our company stands for and values,” she added.

Sonoma Market co-founder Dale Downing said that in his 65 years in the grocery business, he has never worked with a better store manager than Minero.

“Al knows his product, his customer and the grocery business better than anyone,” said Downing. “The most telling thing about Al, is that he knows his customers and their kids by first name and has the respect and love of all his employees.”

Downing added that over the years, he and Al became good friends.

“I have missed him dearly since selling the market,” he said. “Erin (Downing) and I love him and his wife Michelle and wish them the best.”

Lisa Carlsson has worked with Minero on projects for the market and counts him as a friend.

“Al is such a gem to our community and Sonoma Market,” she said. “When you walk in the store and see his handsome smiling face in a dapper suit, you just can’t help but smile. He will really be missed.”

Because Minero is so visible in the community, most Sonoma Market shoppers assume he lives in the Valley, but he and his wife have lived in Petaluma for the past 39 years

“I would love to live in Sonoma,” he said. “If we win the lottery, that’s where we are moving.”

“This place is my home, it is my family,” he said. “I’m excited for what comes next but leaving is really bittersweet. There is no other community like this.”

Stop by to say goodbye – Minero’s last day at the market is Saturday.

Stilles said that a new general manager, Cody Moody, is on site at Sonoma Market this week, working with Minero on a smooth transition. Until this week, Moody managed Nugget’s Tiburon market.

“Cody is a great guy, with great energy and very community minded,” she said. “He was our obvious choice and we think the community is really going to like him.”

Contact Lorna at lorna.sheridan@sonomanews.com.