The thousands and thousands of local customers who have come through McCarrick’s Dairy in the 65 years it has been on Route 25A in Rocky Point know it as much more than a dairy.
Beside the extensive line of dairy products it has a deli, produce, canned items, cereal and pet food—basically a full market.
The genesis of McCarrick’s is like the classic American success story. The children of immigrants take the small business the parents had begun, expand it, and further establish it as a business—and social—landmark of the community.
Brother and sister Hugh McCarrick and Bridget Idtensohn talked about the history of the family business.
“It’s exactly a hundred years ago this year that my grandparents—Hugh and Bridget—came from Silgo, Ireland," Hugh, who along with his brother Kevin, owns McCarrick’s, said. "They settled right here, had a farm with cows and chickens. My grandmother had grown up on a farm.”
The elder McCarricks responded to the local need for dairy products and began delivering milk twice a day.
“It went that way until a little before WWII,” McCarrick said. The elder Hugh McCarrick has passed away; Hugh’s uncle, also named Hugh—was basically running the farm by then.
The family stopped dairy production, but continued home delivery of milk, supplied by Oak Tree Dairy in Northport. To this day the store still carries milk with the labels of Oak Tree and McCarrick’s.
“My father Thomas served in WWII—that’s how he met my mother, Phyllis; she was a Navy Wave,” McCarrick said.
After the couple settled back home the family eventually opened an office in the building now occupied by the dry cleaners next to the present McCarrick’s.
“It was originally just for the account end of the business,”Idtensohn said, “but then we started selling milk and other items from there—cold cuts, groceries.”
“In those days,” McCarrick said, “the expressway only went up to Smithtown. So to get out here, you’d have to take 25A. My father would keep the store open late on Friday and Saturday for the people who were coming out to the country.”
The present McCarrick’s store opened at the beginning of the 1980's and further cemented itself as a vital presence in the community.
Alice, a customer who was being taken care of at the register by Kevin McCarrick, Jr., son of one of the owners, said, “I always find what I need here. I’ve been living in Shoreham forty years so I don’t have to go far to shop.”
Kevin Jr. is one of the many family members who work or have worked at McCarrick’s. Hugh and Bridget had nine siblings in their family, “and most of them have worked here,” she said. Her two sons, Steven and Mitchell, also work at McCarrick’s.
The fact that the business is so much a part of the family can’t help but make costumers feel at the very least, friends of the family.
“People don’t just come here to shop but to talk.” Idtensohn said. “We know the names of our regular customers and they know us. When little kids come in we give them pretzels.”
McCarricks, however, are not the only ones working McCarrick’s, which has employed many young people in the community. Customers have remarked on the politeness and efficiency of the store’s young employees.
“Employees are the first reflection the customer has,” Idtensohn said. “We tell our young people, ‘There’s no reason you can’t be nice.’”
Being “nice,” family run and providing a variety a products for shoppers without supermarket-length lines is the continuing formula that has made McCarrick’s a local mainstay whose future promises to be as rich as its past.