Sarah Bresette didn’t really intend to buy anything when she walked into the new Market Basket in Westbrook on Friday. She and her dad, Raymond Bresette, just thought they would scope out the store on its opening day. But when they walked back to their car, they each carried a bag.

Raymond Bresette, 56, pulled a steak out of his, pointing to the price tag on the packaging.

“It’s such good deals,” he said. “How can this be $3?”

Sarah Bresette, 25, showed off a decorative rose she bought in the floral section. The Biddeford store was too far for regular trips, she said, but the new location is closer to where she lives in Portland.

“With the prices here, we’ll probably switch,” she said.

The father-daughter pair were among the first shoppers at the long-awaited grocery store. The 80,000-square-foot location is the 82nd Market Basket in New England, and the second in Maine. The first morning didn’t see the same long lines as when the Biddeford location opened in 2013, but company employees said that was by design during the coronavirus pandemic.


David McLean, the operations manager for Market Basket, said a couple dozen people waited in the parking lot at 5:30 a.m. The store planned to open at 6 a.m. for an hour dedicated to seniors, as other grocery stores have done, and then at 7 a.m. for the general public. Store employees opened the doors early for those first shoppers.

State guidelines allow a capacity of 400 shoppers for a store of its size, but the company set its own cap of only 300. An employee at the door counted the people walking in and out. By 9 a.m., between 100 and 200 people were milling about in the aisles, so no one was waiting out front.

McLean said people who passed by the store in recent days told him they would visit soon – just not on opening day, when they expected a crowd.

“Customers want to feel safe,” McLean said. “They want to know they can go into the store.”

Greg Savage felt that way. The 73-year-old Portland resident put a couple plastic bags into his trunk on Friday morning. He said he planned to just drive by the store, but when he didn’t see a line out front, he decided to go in. He was particularly impressed by the prepared food section, he said.

“We went in and found some bargains,” Savage said.


A sign at the entrance reminded customers of the mask requirement. Blue tape on the floors guided people to observe social distancing at the deli counter, the registers and elsewhere. The seating area was at 50 percent capacity, so guests who were sipping drinks from the nearby cafe weren’t too close to each other. Shoppers who unloaded their carts in the parking lot said they thought the store was safe and clean.

Plus, it was fully stocked.

“They had cleaning supplies, which everybody is looking for,” said 60-year-old Susan Utterstrom.

Utterstrom lives in the nearby Westbrook neighborhood and made an early trip for bleach wipes. She said she was glad the store opened Friday so the management could test its pandemic protocols before the busier weekend days.

“I did feel good about it,” she said.

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