Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association Awards 2019 Grocer, Producer, and Associate of the Year

AUGUSTA, MAINE  – October 11th, 2019  – The Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association is proud to announce their respected 2019 award recipients. Will’s Shop ‘n Save of Dover-Foxcroft as the 2019 Grocer of the Year;  Coastal Maine Popcorn Co. of Boothbay Harbor as the 2019 Food Producer of the Year; and C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc. of Keene, NH as the 2019 Associate of the Year.

Will’s Shop ‘n Save of Dover-Foxcroft as the 2019 Grocer of the Year

On April 17, 2011, Will and his wife Melissa Wedge opened their doors as Will’s Shop ‘n Save in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine. Following his passion of owning and operating his own store, Will previously held the role of Director of Fresh Merchandising for Hannaford Supermarkets. His store features the optimal combination of locally sourced goods, particularly local produce, and quality goods procured via his partnership with Hannaford Supermarkets. He passionately crafted the store’s layout to ensure customers can shop with ease.

An important factor in the success of many of our state’s independent stores is the connection made within their communities. He prides himself on working to meet customers’ needs and earning their loyalty by doing so. Will’s Shop ‘n Save is very consumer-centric.   As customers shop associates ask them if they found everything they were looking for.  If not, Will & Melissa travel to the full-variety Hannaford stores in Bangor in search of requested items.  Melissa jokes, this weekly trip is officially called “date night”.  Over the years, Will’s has added over 5,000 items to please their customers and be viewed as a locally owned supermarket who cares.  Their colleague, Dave Duley, Director of Independent Sales and Retail Capital Planning, is pleased to recognize their award, “Hannaford is very proud to be a supply partner of Will’s Shop ‘n Save.  Will and Melissa Wedge consistently operate a great store, and their connection to their community is inspirational.” Whether it’s in-store relationships, involvement with the town’s array of events, or the engaging fun on their Facebook page, it’s evident their customers and the community see themselves as a part of the Wedge family.

The Maine Grocers & Food Producers is honored to recognize Will for his persistent advocacy and willingness to connect with his elected officials. He has lent his voice and industry perspective on a variety of issues, ranging from the raising minimum wage, to last session’s attempt at restrictive scheduling legislation. “Will has always stepped up to assist in matters that involve regulation and legislation.  He sees the value in and results of getting involved with his state officials.  Will’s background of working with a large supermarket operator and owing his own store serves him well to understand issues and their effects on all grocery members of MGFPA”, states Judy Knapp, Government Relations, Retail Business Services, an Ahold Delhaize company.

The 2019 Grocer of the Year award undoubtedly belongs to Will Wedge of Will’s Shop ‘n Save. Will was hired in September of 1979 and has spent 40 years in the grocery sector as of last month. He is “very proud to be in the food industry” and we are thrilled to celebrate his success and longevity!

Coastal Maine Popcorn Co. of Boothbay Harbor as the 2019 Food Producer of the Year

Julie and Paul Roberts started Coastal Maine Popcorn because, well let’s be honest, what could be more fun than making and selling delicious, eye-popping flavors of popcorn? Eleven years ago, this past June, they opened their doors bringing popcorn back to the bustling, little town of Boothbay Harbor, Maine. The couple has found success by expanding their reach throughout the United States, including retail stores and an expansive wholesale program. They’ve positioned themselves as the ideal gift, offering personalized options for special events, corporate giving and fundraising.

They credit their customers’ reactions as to what “fuels their passion”. Offering more than 40 flavors, from classic kettle corn or white cheddar to Mint Chocolate Cookie or Maine Blueberry Pancake, there’s an option guaranteed to please everyone. ­­­If you’ve yet to try one of their flavors, you’ll be amazed at how your palate and mind will burst with amazement as it makes the connection between the popcorn’s airy texture and unique flavor combination! The flavors mimic exactly the taste you anticipate based on the name and description.  At Coastal Maine Popcorn, all their popcorn is handmade one batch at a time. They follow the Maine Coast tradition of creating a quality product that is second to none.

As a customer for 10 years, Sheila Nappi owner of Bow Street Market in Freeport, proclaims, “Paul & Julie exemplify the hard work of small business owners.  They are independent, risk-takers, ambitious, personable, and above all, they are purveyors of a line of flavorful gourmet popcorn.  It’s what drives them.  Their risks and passion to produce a high-quality, local treat moves our taste buds forward.  And we need them!”

Since day one, their focus has been on producing the world’s best popcorn while providing world-class customer service. The team at Coastal Maine Popcorn values the relationship they have with their customers and works hard to foster it through honesty and integrity – and great tasting popcorn! Together they work diligently, day after day, to make sure that all of their customers are taken care of. “Coastal Maine Popcorn is a great vendor partner. You deal directly with the owners, one on one, resulting in superior personal customer service. They are always willing to go the extra mile to make sure our stores are in- stock with what our customers are looking for! Everything is made right here in Maine and sold in all of our Maine stores”, states Alan Martel, Maine District Manager, Shaw’s Supermarkets.

The Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association is proud to honor Coastal Maine Popcorn Co. as a dedicated member who has leveraged our partnership with an unmatched willingness to participate and provide samples that surprise our taste buds time after time. A genuine congratulations to the entire team and cheers to Julie and Paul on all your accomplishments!

C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc. of Keene, NH as the 2019 Associate of the Year

C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc. and is the largest privately-held wholesale grocery supply company in the U.S. and the industry leader in supply chain innovation. Founded as a supplier to independent grocery stores, the company began in 1918 and they celebrated 100 years in business last year. Today, they service customers of all sizes, supplying more than 7,700 independent supermarkets, chain stores, military bases and institutions with over 137,000 different products!

They keep their company values “alive through a culture that embraces differences, promotes innovation and is focused on giving back.” Their core initiatives include, eliminating hunger, strengthening communities, protecting the environment, and encouraging volunteerism. In August of 2019, their corporate golf charity donated more than $1.5 million to non-profit organizations devoted to ending pediatric cancer and childhood hunger issues. While in June they announced that multiple initiatives involving recycling efforts, reduced energy use and the offsetting of greenhouse gases resulted in the diversion of 104,809 tons of items from local landfills and offset 25 percent of the total emissions from electricity use in its distribution centers.

Their values run deep and customers can attest, Joshua Tweedie, owner of Hillside, Mars Hill & Star City IGA’s notes, “I’ve been working with C&S Wholesale Grocers for the last 2 ½ years.  Without their assistance, I’m certain that my transition in buying the stores would have been much more difficult.  Having the ability to quickly reach Brian and or the C&S Customer Support staff via phone or email when I have a question, concern, addressing an issue, or helping me with a special customer order, is truly a game-changer. C&S Wholesale Grocers has been a great business partner and I truly appreciate all of their help and support.”

We are pleased to recognize C&S Wholesale Grocers as our 2019 Associate of the Year for their commitment to the Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association and their dedication to the prosperity of the grocer and food industry. MGFPA Board Member Brian Beaudry, Retail Account Manager and colleague John Sabbagh, Senior Director of Business Development are a joy to work with. They’re always willing to participate in events, make contributions that aid in the success of our events and do so with a smile. Congratulations to C&S Wholesale Grocers and a warm-hearted thank you!

The awards will be formally presented on Thursday, October 24th at the Annual Summit in Rockport, ME at the Samoset Resort.  Awarded annually these prestigious honors are given to MGFPA members who meet the highest standards of excellence in providing a positive workplace, increased sales, contributions to the food industry through legislative or educational activities, and a commitment to furthering opportunities for other Maine businesses.