May 1, 2011

Tom Atwell: Roots for this hardy seed store run 100 years deep in Maine

By Tom Atwell
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Allen, Sterling & Lothrop at its Falmouth location circa 1970.

Courtesy photos

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ASL when it was located on Exchange Street in Portland.

Additional Photos Below

"We always did a big business with annuals and perennials, and we had the foot traffic, anyway," Brannigan said.

In winter, the Falmouth Farmers Market operates out of a greenhouse on the ASL site. Brannigan said the market brings a little traffic into his store, but he does it mostly to help out the local farmers.

"It seems like there is a huge surge of people who want to buy locally," he said. "And there is a surge of people having backyard gardens. They are concerned about their health, and want to grow their own food."

Another way that Allen, Sterling & Lothrop differs from most companies is that it is closed on Sundays -- and that won't change until Shawn leaves, if ever.

"The biggest reason is that I am a Christian," he said, "and I think people should spend the day going to church and spending time with their family. God is a big part of the success of our business, and I figure we should give him some of our time."

And he thinks it would be unfair to ask his employees to work Sundays if he isn't willing to work Sundays himself.

Brannigan is 46 now, and has three sons, ages 12, 15 and 18. He doesn't know if the younger boys will have any interest in joining the business.

He does know the 18-year-old has no interest. Instead, he is going to go into law enforcement and will enroll at Southern Maine Community College.

Tom Atwell can be contacted at 791-6362 or at


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Additional Photos

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An interior shot of the seed operation at one of its earlier Portland locations.

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Allen, Sterling & Lothrop was once located between Federal and Middle streets in Portland.

Courtesy photo


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