Crystal Vachon, owner of Pool Street Market in Biddeford, displays her Supreme size lobster roll – one of four sizes available – at the local landmark. Tammy Wells Photo

BIDDEFORD — Pool Street Market is a place where neighborhood residents drop in for sandwiches, soda, morning coffee, bread, or other essentials.

Everyone, it seems, from the neighborhood and well beyond, stops in for lobster rolls.

The tasty delights — made in four sizes, one to suit every appetite or wallet — are made to order by Crystal Vachon, who has owned the store for the past 15 years.

Lobster meat is delivered to the market daily by Maine Shellfish in Kennebunk. During 2020, when the pandemic was topmost in people’s minds and markets for lobster weren’t as robust as they had been, she said she also purchased lobsters from family members engaged in the fishing industry.

The rolls come fresh daily from Reilley’s Bakery on Main Street.

Crystal Vachon tucks a piece of lobster meat into a Supreme size lobster roll at Pool Street Market in Biddeford. Vachon has owned the market for the past 15 years. Tammy Wells Photo

“We’ll make it however you want,” she said of the lobster rolls, which feature big chunks of Maine’s most famous meat. The roll itself may be toasted with butter or as is, your choice. Placing the lobster on a bed of lettuce, or not, is up to the customer. Then customers have another decision, do they want their lobster with mayonnaise or warm with butter, or plain.

Some like other condiments.

“Some like onions, someone recently ordered one with pickles,” said Vachon.

On an average summer day, Vachon said she goes through 30 pounds of lobster meat, making lobster rolls.

On busy, busy days, like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, the volume goes way, way up. This year, she used 90 pounds of lobster meat on each of the two holidays.

In the winter, the volume slows, but still, Vachon uses about 12 pounds of lobster meat a day.

In all, she uses about 4,500 pounds of lobster meat annually.

Vachon said she was a neighborhood child living on Oak Street and used to come to the market with her mother when she was little. When she turned 16, she began working there for then-owner Mike Bolduc.

There has been a market at 77 Pool St. address for years. She has a photo of the store when it was Janson’s in the 1940s, it was Caouette’s Market for a time and then Norm’s before it became Mike’s Pool Street Market.

After graduating from Biddeford High School, Vachon worked in an office for a year, but she said it was not for her, so she leased the market when she was 21 and then bought it 1 1/2 years later, naming the store simply Pool Street Market.

“I like the interaction with customers,” said Vachon. She likes the work — every day has its similarities but is different at the same time. And she has been there long enough to watch some of her customers who came in as children, grow up.

While markets for lobster worldwide were soft in 2020, the scarcity of lobsters and the demand in 2021 has driven up prices everywhere — and at Pool Street Market too. Vachon said raising prices was not something she wanted to do — but she had to. Still, those looking for a lobster roll there can likely find one to suit their financial circumstance. There is the Jumbo at $10.85, with about 3 ounces of lobster meat. If your appetite is hearty, the largest is the Winn, at $27.95, with about eight ounces of lobster meat — and there are two sizes in between.

Pool Street Market, perhaps best known for the lobster rolls made by owner Crystal Vachon, has been the location for a store for generations. This old photo is believed to be when the location was called Janson’s Market in the 1940s. Courtesy Image

The Jumbo, she said, is the perfect size for those with smaller appetites, young people trying out their first lobster roll, or someone looking for a treat that matches their finances.

Pool Street Market is open 12 hours most days — it closes at 6 p.m. Sunday night instead of 7. Her mother pitches in to help during the busiest hours,  her stepdaughters do as well, and her husband helps out when he’s not working his regular job, she said.

At 10 a.m. on a recent day, the phone rang with customers placing orders for pick up at noon. Someone ordered half a dozen lobster rolls, someone else wanted a ham Italian — the market’s second most popular sandwich.

Vachon also takes lobster roll orders from businesses and organizations and said she has noticed more of those sorts of orders lately. “Companies want to go local,” she said.

And she hosts frequent contests on social media, where lobster rolls are the prize.

On that sunny Thursday, Blake Laberee walked in with his young daughter, Juniper in his arms. Laberee and his family were visiting from Oregon, he said, and staying in Saco.

Laberee orderd a Supreme, which contains about six ounces of lobster meat. “We’re taking a lobster tour,” he said.

Comments are not available on this story.