BARNEGAT, NJ -Mom and Pop stores offer customers a few advantages. For one, the service level most often exceeds that of big-box retailers. When Bob Trotta first opened Bob’s Carpet & Flooring, doing just installations in 1981, he embraced a personal touch that earned him the trust of local consumers. His son, Chris Trotta, continues his father’s legacy with that same dedication to making buyers happy.
In 1977, Bob Trotta came to the Ocean County area as a transplant from Cliffside Park in Bergen County. Truth be told, Bob’s original goal was to follow his high school sweetheart, the former Anna Michaels. Her family made the decision to move to Brick in Anna’s senior year.
Bob knew Anna was the woman he would one day marry. It turns out his premonitions came true.
Meanwhile, there was a problem. Back in 1977, the Jersey shore was filled with more tourists than full-time residents. As a result, it became a difficult task to find a job. Bob was therefore grateful when he landed a position as a carpet installer helper. He had no experience.
Bob saw his opportunity to learn a trade and mastered it. By the time he and Anna married, Bob was ready to do carpet and flooring installations on his own. He quickly earned a reputation as someone who would get jobs done with accuracy and efficiency.
For more than a decade, Bob limited his work to just installation jobs. However, he began to grow a real understanding of the different types of flooring. Bob sensed customers would really benefit from his knowledge in debating what floors or carpets to put down in their homes.
From Installation to Sales Promotions
Bob’s Carpet & Flooring started as a retail business indoors at the original Manahawkin Flea Market on East Bay Avenue. By then, Bob and Anna had two sons, Chris and Bobby. The flea market only opened on weekends, and Bob saw it as an opportunity to showcase reasonably priced area rugs, besides flooring.
“I was still in high school when I first started working for my dad at the flea market,” reminisced Chris. “I loved being around him and watching him in action.”
As a youngster, Chris spent a great deal of time with his father. His dad coached and sponsored local Stafford teams. Chris used his time off from school to learn the intricacies of installation.
“My father was passionate about making things work,” stressed Chris. “He listened to how customers wanted their floor coverings to look and did everything to make them happy.”
By the time Bob’s Carpet & Flooring moved to its current location at 325 South Main Street in Barnegat, it was a booming family business. Bob hired others to do the installation work and needed a bigger showroom to consult with people interested in all types of floors and carpets.
For a long while, Anna and Chris both came into the store to work with Bob. He was well known throughout the community and had no trouble talking to anyone. Bob attended mass at St. Mary’s in Barnegat every morning. His reputation centered around his kindness and brought in customers from all over Southern Ocean County.
Ultimately, the national economy took a downturn, and Anna and Chris left to find other means of supplementing their incomes.
“People were more worried about putting food on the table rather than caring about what they were stepping on,” recalled Anna.
However, Bob was not a quitter. His wife credited her late husband for taking a business that was on life support and refusing to pull the plug. Bob persisted and resurrected the carpet and flooring company from what seemed its inevitable demise.
Chris Returns to Bob’s Carpet & Flooring
Nearly a decade ago, the Trotta family got some bad news. However, Bob did not let a diagnosis of prostate cancer stop him from showing up at work. He didn’t take off any time and rejected offers for help.
Three years later, matters got worse. In 2014, Bob learned he now had esophageal cancer. Once again, Bob loved making his customers happy and limited his time away from the store. However, Bob also seemed to have some inner knowledge concerning where things were headed.
At that time, Chris was working at a golf course in Monmouth County. He returned full time to the business that still bears his father’s name in 2015.
“My dad made me a co-owner of the business,” said Chris. “He knew he was dying and wanted everything in place.”
It’s almost three years since Bob Trotta passed away on August 30, 2016. Father and son strengthened their bond as they again worked side by side.
According to Chris, he learned from the best in the trade. However, Chris continues to enhance his knowledge, which includes training courses within the floorcovering industry.
“I like the business,” said Chris, with a smile. “I am able to give customers better prices and great quality. It’s one of the advantages of not paying hourly wages or commissioned salespeople.”
Most recently, Anna also returned to Bob’s Carpet & Flooring. She’s primarily there to help Chris with office duties so he can service clients.
“Bob knew his stuff,” said Anna. “He made sure that Chris understood the business wasn’t just about selling carpets and floors. It’s also about making the relationships that come from even simple repair jobs.”
Stephanie A. Faughnan is a local journalist and Director of Writefully Inspired, a professional writing and resume service. Feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.