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Dedicated Manteca merchant dies
Aldo Brocchini remembered as tireless, honest, hard-worker
Aldo Brocchini - photo by Photo Contributed
One of Manteca’s great movers and shakers has died.

Aldo Brocchini, longtime owner of Accent Carpets One and the former Ace Hardware Store in Manteca, died Thursday night at Kaiser Modesto after a short illness. Friends, business acquaintances, employees and customers remembered the always amiable Brocchini as a people person, a progressive thinker, a shrewd businessman and a great business promoter with a golden heart.

His death at the age of 82 came as a shock to many who remembered him as someone who was always full of vitality and an indefatigable worker who was a permanent fixture at Accent Carpets all six days of the week that the business was open.

“This is a very hard thing to say: we were good friends for many, many years. He had vitality and strength. He was just a strong person,” said longtime business colleague and friend Ken Hafer.

Another longtime friend and colleague, John Mendosa of the former Mendosa’s store in downtown Manteca, was also shocked to hear of Brocchini’s sudden passing.

“I’ve known Aldo since high school (at Manteca High). He was a couple of years ahead of me. That’s how long we’ve known each other. We were friends all through the years. He was in business and I was in business. We served on the (Manteca Chamber’s) Merchants Division together,” recalled Mendosa.

“This is a real shocker because it happened so fast,” he said of his old friend’s passing.

Just last December, Mendosa said he and his wife attended a holiday function at a mutual friend’s home with Brocchini and his wife Mabel and a few other relatives and friends.

“Aldo was in great shape. We laughed and we talked. You never knew there was anything wrong with him,” Mendosa remembered.

Always the tireless businessman that everybody knew, Brocchini continued working at Accent Carpets up until three weeks ago, said Sandy LaMar who has worked there for 29 years.

Manteca’s “Pumpkin King,” George Perry, was one of those who often stopped at Accent Carpets to visit with Brocchini and talk about the old times and, of course, about business. He was actually making one of those visits to his old friend on Friday when he learned about the sad news.

“What a fine man,” he said of Brocchini.

“Of course, he was younger than me,” said the 90-year-old Perry, but he remembers Brocchini as one of the people who pushed for the perennial success of the still widely popular annual Manteca Pumpkin Fair.
An astute,  forward-thinking  businessman
Perry, who is still involved in the George Perry & Sons business that he started, remembers one particular experience which he said exemplified Broccini’s fairness and kindness as a businessman. When Perry needed a new carpet at home, he went to Accent Carpets. One wall needed an upgrade that was not in the original job order but Brocchini went ahead and did it. When Perry went to pay for it, he said Brocchini insisted on the original price. “That’s what I told you, George,” Perry recalled Brocchini telling him.

While installing his carpet, Brocchini’s workers noticed an 8-inch-square stain in one of the Perrys’ bathrooms. Perry couldn’t recall what caused the stain. But, he said, Brocchini “sent a man here and the man said, ‘I could cut that out, patch it and you wouldn’t know the difference.’”

Sure enough, that’s what happened. “So I said, Aldo, how much do I owe you? And he said, ‘you don’t owe me anything.’ He was that kind of a person. That’s why you respected him,” Perry said.

Many people had similar stories to tell about Brocchini.

“He was a great person to do business with,” agreed Alice Hafer who, with husband Ken, own and operate several businesses in town.

The Hafers were also good friends with the Brocchinis because all their children went to St. Anthony’s School together. Both families each had three children.

“Aldo’s a fine man. He’s a good businessman, a great businessman and a forward-thinker,” said Mendosa who still has a hard time referring to his longtime friend in the past tense.

“He was always looking ahead. He could see opportunities coming that many people could not see,” he added.

One of those forward-thinking ideas that Brocchini helped develop was keeping businesses downtown open for longer hours in the evening on Thursdays. This was back in the mid-1950s, recalled a longtime businessman in town who did not want to be identified.

“We were trying to get business stirred up in town; things were not all that great in town. Nobody did Thursday night business in those days,” he said.

To help promote Thursday-night shopping downtown, Brocchini hatched up an idea to help draw the big crowds. That idea was to have people come into the stores downtown and pick up a ticket for the drawing of a washer and/or dryer.
“We’d buy the washer and dryer from him (Brocchini)” at the old Ace Hardware Store, “and then we gave that item away at the drawing. It was really exciting. We got decent crowds. This was Aldo’s idea; he was a promoter,” the businessman said

To help promote Thursday-night shopping downtown, Brocchini hatched up an idea to help draw the big crowds. That idea was to have people come into the stores downtown and pick up a ticket for the drawing of a washer and/or dryer.

After that, they came up with the idea of “Balloon Days.” All the downtown stores that participated purchased an ad section in the Manteca Bulletin enticing customers to visit their store and pick up a balloon. Inside each balloon was a discount coupon. Customers who came into the store would pop a balloon and right away use the coupon to purchase the item identified on the coupon.

“He was definitely a businessman,” said LaMar who worked with Ken Chastain at the Manteca Accent Carpets. The business also has a branch in Tracy which Brocchini opened first before he started the store in Manteca in 1974.

“I learned a lot from him. I learned to be disciplined - work is work and play is play. Aldo played just as hard as he worked. If he was going to take you to dinner or  a party, you’re going to have a good time. If you’re doing business, you’re going to do business time. He was a big influence in my life in that respect. I learned a lot of values from him,” said LaMar whose in-laws owned and operated another longtime family-owned business in town, Redi-Mark, which is now owned by her sister-in-law, Diane.

Another couple that attests to Brocchini’s astuteness as a businessman and as a friend is Lois Page and her husband Glenn who knew Brocchini very well through their mutual involvement for many years in the Manteca Chamber of Commerce.

“Mabel was really involved in the Manteca Chamber of Commerce, and through Mabel I got to know Aldo. He was just a wonderful man, very likable,” said Page who worked in the Chamber office for 10 years.

“He touched a lot of lives, in business and in personal life. He will be missed,” said Lois who will pay a final gesture of friendship to Brocchini at his funeral on Thursday next week. As a member of the Manteca Police Department’s volunteer SHARP (Seniors Helping Area Residents and Police), Lois will be helping control the traffic as the funeral procession proceeds from P.L. Fry & Son to the Mass of Christian Burial at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, and then on to St. John’s Catholic Cemetery in Escalon.

Viewing at P.L. Fry & Son on North Union Road will be on Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m., and the funeral Mass at St. Anthony’s will be at 10:30 a.m.