The Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association (MGFPA) has named it 2018 award recipients. Brackett’s Market of Bath is the 2018 Grocer of the Year; Wilbur’s of Maine Chocolate Confections of Freeport is the 2018 Producer of the Year; and Associated Grocers of New England (AGNE) of Pembroke, New Hampshire, is the 2018 Associate of the Year.
Brackett’s Market was founded by Kimberly and Steve Brackett in 1996. The store is locally owned and an IGA “Hometown Proud” 5-star supermarket. The Bracketts work to source local products and support their community. Knowing customers by name, their personal connection in both product assortment and service helps set their independent store apart from the competition, says MGFPA.
In 2002, the Bracketts completely renovated an old A&P store building located on Front Street in Bath, employing 35 people.
Peter Larkin, National Grocers Association (NGA) president and CEO, wrote to share his appreciation, “Congratulations Kim on this very well-deserved award. You and the team at Brackett’s should be proud of what you’ve accomplished. I know from my own personal experience of shopping at your store, you have set the standard for what independent grocers are all about by providing high quality products, great service and support for the community. On behalf of the NGA family, we are proud to have you as a member and appreciate your service as a member on the board of directors. We’re so fortunate that Kim has a supportive group behind her which allows her to take time away from the store to be involved in all of these important groups including MGFPA.”
Wilbur’s Chocolate Confections began as a retail store in Freeport 35 years ago, founded by Tom and Catherine Wilbur. Wilbur’s is a multi-generation, family-owned business. Son Andrew Wilbur joined the family business in 2008, and his wife, Kristin, joined recently as well. The company employs 35 employees, and the Wilburs say they strive to create a family atmosphere in both their workplace as well as in their retail stores. They remain active in the Maine-business scene and have dedicated much of their time to advocating for small business owners at the statehouse in Augusta and working with the media.
The chocolatiers pride themselves in sourcing as many local ingredients as possible including milks, creams and seasonal flavors, helping support the Maine economy. They sell their product from their retail locations as well as wholesale, which includes large accounts such as LL Bean. The company has three storefronts, including two in Freeport and one on Main Street in Brunswick.
“The Wilbur’s family has been involved in the Maine specialty food movement for 35 years. Their dedication to quality, innovative chocolate confections and their influence and contributions to the overall Maine food scene is outstanding,” said Cathe Morrill, MGFPA board president.
Founded in 1946 by a group of independent grocers, AGNE has grown to be the largest retailer-owned wholesaler in New England, servicing independent retail grocers from Aroostook County to the Scranton, Pennsylvania, area and into eastern New York. A full-service wholesaler, AGNE offers services that include traditional and digital advertising, retail bookkeeping, retail pricing, retail counseling and more.
AGNE’s Community Connection program is committed to making a positive impact on the lives of people in the communities it serves by giving back 100 percent of all contributions donated to fund the program. It is for this community commitment that AGNE is recognized as 2018 Associate of the Year.
The awards were formally presented on Oct. 10 at MGFPA’s Annual Summit in New Gloucester, Maine, at the Pineland Farms Event Facility.