A South Portland market that has touched the lives of countless city residents, employees and customers since it opened more than 80 years ago is closing.

Legion Square Market, also known as Smaha’s market, will soon close after it sells off its remaining inventory.

Alan Cardinal, owner of Smaha’s Legion Square in South Portland, in 2015. Joel Page/Portland Press Herald

The building at 101 Ocean St. in the Knightville neighborhood will be put on the market following a discount inventory sale that will begin Wednesday, Jan. 11, owner and operator Alan Cardinal said in a telephone interview Monday night.

Cardinal said he and his wife, Sylvia Most, decided to sell the business after 11 years so that they could focus on family matters.

“As with many families, we find ourselves pulled in many directions as needs change and priorities shift. And as with many small Maine businesses, we find circumstances make it more and more difficult to maintain a business – and family commitments,” Cardinal wrote in a farewell letter that will be posted Tuesday on the market’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

“Due to a confluence of events, it is with great difficulty that my wife and I will be closing Legion Square Market in South Portland. We have many emerging responsibilities within our family both near and far, and we need to make those our focus,” Cardinal said. “This is a sad moment for us, and we will miss being a part of this thriving neighborhood.”


Thomas Smaha, the longtime owner of the Legion Square Market, died Jan. 7, 2021, at the age of 77. Smaha’s father, John, opened the market in 1939. Thomas Smaha took over the business in 1969, and operated it for 43 years.

Smaha sold the business and building to Cardinal in 2012. Cardinal has operated the market with his wife and two kids since then.

Thomas Smaha, former owner of the Legion Square Market and son of its founder, John Smaha, stands in the iconic South Portland grocery in 2007. Alan Cardinal, who bought the market in 2012, is selling the store, which has been in business since 1939. John Patriquin/Portland Press Herald

“It’s sad. And it was not my goal. I wanted to carry on the legacy,” Cardinal said of his decision to close the market.

Cardinal in an interview with the Press Herald last year lamented Smaha’s death. He said rarely a week goes by that someone doesn’t stop by to share a story about Smaha.

“It’s hard to have someone who had that much of their life poured into a community pass. He touched so many people’s lives,” Cardinal said. “We bought a business that had a legacy … it needs to be celebrated and enhanced and he allowed us to do that. He meant a lot to the community. A lot of people are heartbroken by his passing.”

Cardinal said he is proud that Legion Square Market made it safely through the COVID pandemic, while offering the community its fresh cut meats and grocery items. Over the years, Smaha’s developed a reputation for having the largest full service meat department, cut to order, in greater Portland.

“We got through COVID with a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” said Cardinal, which will make closing now all that much harder.

“This is a sad moment for us, and we will miss being a part of this thriving neighborhood. We will miss serving the many families who trust us with their daily and weekly marketing,” Cardinal said in his farewell message.

“We’re proud of having been a steadfast source of necessities during the height of the pandemic and lockdowns, as well as being a sponsor for many local fundraisers and charities,” he added. “We appreciate your support and the hard work of our employees during the past decade. And we appreciate your caring during this challenging transition.”

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