By Steve Colhoun
Special to The Bangor Daily News
JONESPORT, Maine - Up to now, a hardware store, some antiques and nautical shops, a small IGA grocery and Tall Barney’ s Restaurant have been the extent of the offerings on Main Street in this coastal town. Now an upscale, full-service supermarket is slated to open in late September.
Under construction since early May, the 16,000-square-foot development on Route 187 at the west end of Jonesport will house not only a full line of food and household needs, according to owner Manfred Darkey, but also an in-store bakery, a deli and butcher counter, and a liquor section. And, of course, there will be a steady supply of seafood from local fishermen.
“You can’ t get it any fresher” than right off the town docks, Darkey said.
While he has operated a lobster-bait business here for 28 years, Darkey said, he began buying the property nearly that long ago and had a dream of growing it into a major town asset from the beginning. In the last year, he decided the time was ripe for a modern superstore.
Under the umbrella of Surefine products, Darkey said his shelves will be supplied by Associated Grocers.
Incorporated as Manaford’ s Supermarket, Darkey explained that he plans to employ 16 to 20 workers initially, including his wife, son and daughter.
When asked how a town with a year-round population of barely 1,300 residents would support such a large venture, Darkey said there are about 6,000 people living within a 12-mile radius, including Addison, Jonesboro, Columbia, Columbia Falls and Beals.
Millard Alley, manager of the IGA in the center of town, which has been there for 39 years, said, “It’ s going to be some interesting competition.” Alley declined to predict how the new store might affect his bottom line, adding only, “That’ s business, so they say.”
Darkey said the 30-acre parcel allows plenty of room for more development and said he has been approached by some prospective tenants but has no commitments. He said he can foresee opening a gardening and landscaping business under his management in the not-too-distant future.
As for his lobster-bait business, Darkey said he had no intention of stopping his daily deliveries to fill the traps of the local fleet.