Recent developments in our convenience store trade got me wondering what it says about our local market; what our market can support and what does not thrive here.

By my count, Rockland is currently served primarily by four corporate convenience stores. All have gas, lottery tickets, beer, cigarettes and pizza. Each has the flavor of the owner’s identity and some have their own store brands.

So I took a look back, with a snapshot from the Rockland City Directory of 1965. The picture revealed just more than 20 neighborhood stores all around town, and most within walking distance.

These stores had penny candy, groceries, produce, cigarettes (some had meat departments) and beer. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights, the evening before the publication date, The Courier-Gazette was on hand for purchase.

The Courier-Gazette drove traffic into the stores and, with it, sales. A Courier under the arm on the way out was accompanied by a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread and perhaps a six-pack of beer.

Like clockwork.

I bought my very first six-pack from Mazzeo Super Market on Rankin Street. When I got my state ID, I continued to buy from them but also ventured out to Lessard’s on Willow Street. Eventually I spread my buying around.

Mazzeo had an old walk-in cooler with a heavy door, a tiny window and sawdust on the floor. Sometimes there would be an empty beer in there. Charlie Jordan, who once worked there, told me the help would sometimes look through the window and catch a beer drinker in action. They would drop the butcher’s steel down through the lock and keep him in the cooler until the cops came.

Charlie’s family ran Jordan’s Super Market in the Crockett Block on Rockland’s north end. It had lobster tanks that were filled by water pumped from Rockland Harbor. The sound of the tanks and the gushing saltwater was like a small waterfall.

Kevin Wilson, my longtime gearhead friend, helped me fill in the blanks on the small markets that occupied the bottom of the old Rankin Block. His first recollection was Copeland’s, Nate Copeland proprietor, followed by Boynton’s, run by the Boynton brothers Dennis and Dave.

My historian friend John Bird reminded me about Naum and Adams, where Liberator Brewing currently is located. The Economy family sold fruit and produce where Camden National Bank is now.

Fuller Market at 662 Crescent St. is still largely intact and wonderfully unrestored. I would say it is the last remaining old style market building in town. A truly wonderful thing could happen there.

I am thinking of the Lincolnville Center General Store and its loving restoration. I think the new south end would support it. And like Lincolnville General, it would be a destination.

Below is my snapshot from 1965:

•The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (The A & P), 564 to 574 Main St. (AutoZone)

•Bucklin Store, 324 Old County Road (Joe French’s Quality Car Care)

•Curtis Food Store, 216 Main St. (Trilliam Soaps)

•Curtis Pleez-ing Food Center, 67 Main St. (Southend Grocery)

•Maurice Duncan – Duncan’s Market, 156 Main St. (Primrose Framing)

•Eddie’s Self Service, 610 Main St. (Rankin Block/Rankin Center)

•Friendly Market, 662 Main St. (Residence, corner of Cottage Street)

•Fuller Market, 68 Crescent St. (Corner of Pacific Street, unoccupied and intact)

•Glen Rha Market, 9 Park St. (Camden National drive-thru)

•Jordan’s Super Market, 745 Main St. (Parking lot next to Claws)

•Kaler’s Store, 534 Old County Road (Nouria-Shell convenience store)

•Lena’s Groceries, 212 Main St. (Between Brunswick House and Trillium Soaps)

•Lessard’s Market, 17 Willow St. (Rockland Savings Bank drive-thru)

•The Market Basket, 119 Main St. (Across from Jesse’s Market)

•Mazzeo Super Market, 235 Rankin St. (Across from the Elks Club)

•Moon’s Grocery, 167 New County Road (O’Hara Enterprises)

•Post’s Corner Grocery, 3 Holmes St. (Near Main Street intersection)

•F. G. Priest, 109 Park St. (Corner of Lyle Street next to the Fire Department)

•Rockland IGA Foodliner, 724 Main St. (Next to Sargent Lock and Safe)

•Sampson’s Red and White Market, 195 Park St. (Rockland Foodservice)

•Sprowl’s Market – Bud Sprowl proprietor, 131 North Main St. (Oceanside Deli)

Glenn Billington is a lifelong resident of Rockland and has worked for The Courier-Gazette and The Free Press since 1989.

Former Fuller Market at 662 Crescent St, in Rockland. Photo by Glenn Billington