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October 12, 2018

Brackett's Market, Wilbur's of Maine win awards from Maine Grocers & Food Producers Assoc.

Courtesy / Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association.
Courtesy / Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association.
Kim Brackett, center, of Brackett's Market of Bath receives the 2018 Grocer of the Year from the Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association.

The Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association on Thursday unveiled its 2018 award winners, starting with Brackett's Market of Bath as Grocer of the Year.

Rounding out the honorees are Wilbur's of Maine Chocolate Confections of Freeport, which was named the 2018 Producer of the Year, and regional retailer-owned wholesaler Associated Grocers of New England in Pembroke, N.H., named 2018 Associate of the Year.

In a press release, the trade association noted that Brackett's Market founders Kimberly and Steve Brackett "are deeply committed to being more than just a great grocery store, they strive every day to make a difference in their town." Originally from the Atlanta area, they spent many years as employees at Kroger and were intrigued by the allure of owning a grocery store in Maine. They founded Brackett's in 1996, and moved to the current location in 2002 after renovating an old A&P. Brackett's Market employs 35 people.

"As owners, they work diligently to source local products in both product assortment and service helps set their independent store apart from both competition," the association said.

Wilbur's Chocolate Confections

Courtesy / Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association
Courtesy / Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association
Wilbur’s of Maine Chocolate Confections of Freeport was named the 2018 Producer of the Year.

Wilbur's Chocolate Confections began as a retail store in Freeport 35 years ago, founded by Tom and Catherine Wilbur. Their son, Andrew Wilbur, joined the family business in 2008 and his wife, Kristen, joined recently as well. The company employs 35 people, though the number goes up every year during the busy holiday season.

The trade association noted that the chocolatiers pride themselves on sourcing as many local ingredients as possible, including milks, creams and seasonal flavors. Besides their own retail locations, they sell to wholesale customers such as L.L.Bean.

The third winner, Associated Grocers of New England, was founded in 1946 and has grown to become the largest retailer-owned wholesaler in New England, serving independent retail grocers from Aroostook County to the Scranton, Pa., area, and into eastern New York.

A full-service wholesaler, Associated Grocers of New England offers services including traditional and digital advertising, retail bookkeeping, retail pricing and retail counseling.

Sue Johnson, recently promoted to senior category merchandiser at Associated Grocers of New England, led a grassroots effort leading to a long committee hearing discussing the effects of increasing the minimum wage on Maine's small businesses.

"Her insight to proactively share opportunities to testify and connect store members with the legislature helped ensure the discussion never silenced," the release said.

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