The Jungle Jim Story
Purses to produce
In 1971, he set up his first semi-permanent produce stand in a parking lot, on the corner of Erie and High Street in Hamilton. He worked 21-hour days, slept on the premises and showered under a hose, behind the building. When the place sold, he had to move. The same thing happened with several other locations, including the corner of Symmes and Route 4, in Fairfield. Vacant lots that had gone unnoticed for months, suddenly became hot when he landed on them. Jim mused that he’d missed his calling, he should have probably gone into selling real estate!
In 1974, he found the land he wanted to purchase. Owners Jim Ivers and Bruce Cunagin were willing to sell, but a $10,000 down payment wasn’t enough. They insisted he’d need a co-signer. There was a silence. Then Bruce’s mother, Fanny, a third owner spoke up, “I’ll co-sign.” Jim Bonaminio now believed in guardian angels. He had two, Fanny Cunagin, and Esther Benzing. Esther was president of Fairfield’s planning commission. In 1975 city officials were reluctant to okay a permit for a fruit and vegetable market because the area was zoned industrial, not commercial. The commission admitted an exception had been made, for a nearby Arthur Treacher’s because that was where workers ate lunch. “What’s the difference,” Esther queried, “between having a fish sandwich and having an apple or an orange?” She banged her gavel and said, “Permission granted and good luck son.”
Jungle Jim’s International Market was born. A mere cubicle at 4,200 square feet, but it was a start. Before long, more and more products were added, and expansion continues to this day. Jungle Jim’s International Market is a place where the first rule is to treat customers like gold. The second is to have fun doing it. People come from several states away for the unique shopping experience Jungle Jim’s International Market offers.