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Nov 13, 2008 10:10 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Quogue man wins nearly $1,600 in groceries during shopping spree

Nov 13, 2008 10:10 AM

In these difficult economic times, most people would welcome the idea of someone else picking up their grocery tab—even if the deal comes with one small catch.

For Frank Masin of East Quogue, the catch was that he had just four minutes to fill his shopping cart with as many groceries as possible—up to five of any single item—while simultaneously navigating his way around other customers at the King Kullen on Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays last Thursday morning.

Armed with a map drawn by his wife, who won the shopping spree through a raffle sponsored by the Hampton Bays Rotary Club, and trailed by a team of club members all manning empty shopping carts to hand off to him when needed, Mr. Masin raced around the aisles as soon as the store clock read 8 a.m. For the next 240 seconds, he filled shopping cart after shopping cart with packages of steaks, bags of frozen shrimp, several bottles of Tide laundry detergent, and packages of diapers for his 6-month-old grandson, Brandon.

When the shopping spree was over, and all of the items checked out, Mr. Masin learned that he had racked up a $1,574 bill.

“I got about 85 percent of what we had looked at,” said Mr. Masin, referring to his wife, Carol, after the shopping spree. “If I had another minute, I could have got the rest of it.”

Carol Masin was one of several hundred people who had purchased raffle tickets from the Hampton Bays Rotary Club, as part of its annual fund-raiser benefitting the food pantry that operates out of the Church of Saint Rosalie’s on East Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays.

The Rotary Club notified Ms. Masin, who had previously purchased four $5 tickets, that she had won the raffle just two days before the event. Because she had to work that day, Ms. Masin enlisted the help of her husband, though Mr. Masin later noted that their first choice would have been their adult son, Bob Masin. But he also had to work, leaving only Mr. Masin to complete the spree.

According to club member and past president Mike Firestone, the Hampton Bays Rotary Club has hosted the event for the past three years. The revenue generated by the raffle tickets—totaling around $5,200 this year—paid for Mr. Masin’s shopping spree while the balance benefitted the church’s food pantry. The money donated to the food pantry will help feed families in need during Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season.

Deacon Bob Mongillo, the director of Saint Rosalie’s social ministry, said the Rotary Club’s donation was a huge help this year because of the current economic crisis. “It’s phenomenal this year because the supermarkets weren’t giving out the turkeys,” he said. “It was an answer to a prayer.”

The night before the shopping spree, Mr. Masin and his wife scouted the supermarket and drew a map of all the key items he needed to target. He explained that he wanted to grab the expensive items first, including high-priced meat and seafood.

“The biggest items, outside of meats, are things like large bottles of Tide that don’t expire but you use over a long period,” Mr. Masin said. “I was so focused.”

Additionally, Mr. Masin also took orders from his son and daughter, Kerry Firth. “I was running for people who had different requests,” he explained.

At 8 a.m. last Thursday, Mr. Masin left his starting position near the cash registers at the King Kullen, weaving his way past early morning shoppers. Seconds later, an supermarket employee used the store’s loudspeaker system to warn other customers to “Watch out for Frank!” Meanwhile, Rotary Club members trailed Mr. Masin with empty shopping carts; when he filled one, another was handed off to him.

“I was glad to have those Rotary people,” said Mr. Masin who, along with his wife, works at Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Quogue.

In addition to steaks, frozen shrimp, laundry detergent and diapers, Mr. Masin’s bounty included lots of ground beef, several large hams, multiple bottles of Advil, cartons of eggs, tubes of toothpaste, bottles of Peter Luger Steak House Sauce, and a 12-pack of Samuel Adams Winter Lager.

“I did get Talking Elmo,” noted Mr. Masin, referring to the last item that he grabbed for his grandson.

Afterward, Mr. Masin noted that winning $1,574 worth of groceries will be a big help for him and his family, especially with the holidays fast approaching. “The price of food has gone up,” he said, adding that he would have also enjoyed a shopping spree at Wild By Nature, an organic supermarket also owned by King Kullen.

With five shopping carts full of groceries, Mr. Masin recruited Rotary Club members to help transport the goods to his car. He then noted that he intends to share his groceries with his two grown children.

“It was quite an event,” Mr. Masin said. “It was like a road race.”

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