By Jo O’Connor
Chances are, if you know where Cape Porpoise is, you know of Bradbury Brothers Market. Set across the street from the fire station with aged white clapboards, it has become a landmark celebrated for 85 years of being in business, and thriving through five sets of owners, including four generations of the Bradbury family.
The journey from the origins of Bradbury Brothers Market as a small outpost in 1934 to cultural iconic location has been a rich one.
Frank Bradbury (son of Charles and Hattie) grew up on a farm in Cornish, Maine and moved to Lynn, Massachusetts to become a street conductor. There, he lived in a small apartment above a restaurant, where fate intervened. He met and fell in love with the landlord’s daughter, Alta. They married, had six children and worked tirelessly throughout the Great Depression. Eager to start anew, they eventually moved to Maine, where they settled down on a small Cape Porpoise farm. Country life enabled them to survive and even thrive through those difficult years.
Once their footing was established, Frank decided he wanted more.
In 1934, Frank sold 100 hens from his barn, cashed in his family insurance policies and with the proceeds was able to buy an 8×10-foot structure — the beginnings of Bradbury’s Grocery. It was a modest start. At first, the Bradbury’s sold milk and eggs from their farm, and Alta cooked short-order meals over a three-burner gas stove in a large iron frying pan.
Modest as it was, the business continued to expand. In 1942, Frank, along with his son Wilbur, purchased another store across the street and established its current location.
In 1946, another son Charles (aka Milton), who had just returned from a tour of duty in the Army Air Corps in Africa, joined his brother to form Bradbury Bros. Market. Together, Wilbur and Milton owned the business for 30 years.
In 1977, the brothers realized the next Bradbury generation lacked interest in running the business and put it up for sale. Vick Chewning and Jon Swennes purchased the store and owned it for 13 years making upgrades along the way.
In 1990, the market swung back to Bradbury family ownership when third generation cousins, Tom Bradbury and Stedman Seavey, purchased the market from Swennes and Chewning. For 15 years, they ran a community-styled market. In 2005, Tom sold his interest to Stedman to devote himself to the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust.
Stedman remained at the store for more than 25 years. However, as he put it “…the milk crates and beer cases are getting heavier and I’m not getting any younger.” With that in mind, Stedman made the decision to sell.
In December of 2015, Stedman closed on the sale of Bradbury Brothers Market to new owners Jim and Christine Faiella. Stedman felt it was the right time to do so. “As difficult a decision as it was to let the store go, it was made easier knowing the caliber of the new owners and their desire to maintain the store’s character as the community market,” said Stedman.
Enter Jim and Christine Faiella. In 2015, a competent pair, who had run two successful community grocery stores in NH — purchased Bradbury’s. Jim and Christine were active owners who were dedicated to working with the Cape Porpoise community, customers and employees. Since that time, the post office within the market has closed.
In the early July 2023, the Faiellas sold the business to the husband and wife team of Michele Tourangeau and Tim Pasterczyk, who have both long been in the restaurant, hospitality and tourism industries. They have been connected to southern Maine for a few decades. Tourangeau had been the Bradbury Brothers wine and beer distributor for nine years before they took over the market.
Now 89 years old, Bradbury Brothers Market is still going strong. The new owners have got great plans to make their vision come true.
In an effort to enhance the shopping experience, they have installed surround sound music, put in a modern phone system, created a new logo and kept all the existing employees in place. They have expanded the grab’n’go menu and created some holiday-themed events.
“We are so community-minded and are looking to honoring the deep and long traditions that Bradbury Brothers Market has always represented. We look forward to meeting and serving many people in this community,” said Tourangeau.
Of course, Bradbury’s will still offer a full deli and sub-shop menu featuring Boars Head brand deli meats and cheeses as well as serve up exceptional offerings of Bradbury’s renowned Meat Department. Don’t forget to visit their expansive wine and liquor section too.
Over the years, the store has played host to a community that includes former President George Bush (41), First Lady Barbara Bush, the national press corps and the town’s own cast of notable characters. One story says that Frank Bradbury became so irate with famed local 20th century novelist/Pulitzer prize-winning author Kenneth Roberts that he almost tossed the writer out of the store. Rumor says that the disagreement had to do with his clothing.
Known as the true hub of Cape Porpoise, Bradbury Brothers Market success is an indication of how well-known the grocery store has become. It’s the go-to local gathering place that combines modern service with traditional values. Through it all, there remains a strong sense of community, an unequivocal appreciation of the beauty of the area and the warmth of its people and visitors. Because . . . All roads lead to Bradburys.