John Naylor, right, co-founder of Rosemont Markets and Mark Law, who will replace him as CEO. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

With the recent hiring of grocery industry veteran Mark Law to serve as its chief executive officer, Rosemont Market and Bakery has entered a new era of potential growth.

The small local grocery chain had already come a long way since launching its first location on Brighton Avenue in 2005. By 2014, Rosemont had three markets in Portland, a fourth in Yarmouth, about 70 employees and $7.5 million in annual revenues.

Rosemont now has seven markets, along with a 10,000-square-foot facility on Stevens Avenue in Portland used for warehouse space and producing breads, pastries, prepared meals and floral arrangements for all its locations. The company is staffed today by about 180 employees, and pulls in between $15 and $20 million in annual revenue, according to Law.

As many as 60 local farmers and more than 200 local food producers provide inventory for Rosemont’s stores. Shoppers prize Rosemont for its Maine-sourced fresh foods and specialty products, its robust bakery and pastry department and prepared meals offerings, and its extensive, thoughtfully curated wine selection.

We sat down in late June with Law and Rosemont co-founder John Naylor – who led the company for 18 years before stepping aside for Law, though he remains involved as president and chairman of the board – to talk about Rosemont’s role in the local community, where the company is headed, and what five items are their must-haves in a Rosemont shopping basket.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.


Please tell us a few details about your professional background, Mark, and what makes you a good fit for Rosemont. 

ML: Most of my career is in specialty grocery, natural and organic food. I worked for 14 years for Whole Foods Market (in Boston and Boulder, Colorado), and had a range of positions from store manager to merchandiser/buyer. I was also a vice president of operations and purchasing there.

Then I moved to Portland, Oregon, to work for New Seasons Market, which is a local natural and organic food chain with about 25 stores in Oregon.

A lot of the work I’d done is directly applicable to the Rosemont situation; it’s just a different scale. I’ve always been personally very invested in good quality, local, small-production food and strong regional food systems and really trying to help strengthen them and add value to the community through food. I wanted to get into something smaller and really be able to make a difference in a particular region.

Mark Law, a grocery industry veteran, has been working as a consultant for the Rosemont Market and Bakery for the past year. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

So how did you first connect with John Naylor?

ML: I had left my position (at New Seasons in Oregon), and my wife and I were looking to move back East. I came here to Portland and came across Rosemont. I was just really interested in the concept, which very much aligned with what drives me from a professional and personal standpoint in terms of strong regional food systems and good neighborhood markets.


What struck me most was, usually you have a single operating specialty food store, and Rosemont was more than that. It was a neighborhood market really dedicated to local food and community, and making a difference in the communities they operated in, which is what I’d been focused on professionally on a larger scale. It was really perfect for me, and that’s why I reached out to (Naylor).

We had a couple of conversations toward the end of 2021. Then we met early in 2022 and just hit it off. We spent three or four hours at the (former Rosemont) wine bar at Thompson’s Point getting to know one another, talking food and business. We shared a lot of similar values and outlooks on businesses and how to run them. So then I started consulting with Rosemont basically for the last year.

How long is your CEO contract for, and will you be a part-owner in Rosemont?

ML: My contract is for five years. We’ve kind of created this unique structure, so there are opportunities for potential minority ownership.

You’re a Massachusetts native. Besides Rosemont, what led you to Maine?

ML: I grew up outside of Boston, my wife is from New Jersey, all of our family is back East, and both of our children are in college in the Boston area. We definitely were not looking for a large city. We wanted a small city where we could be involved in community. We love the outdoors, and you have lots to choose from here. And we love the city of Portland – great food scene, great people, and it’s small, easy to get around.


Rosemont co-founder John Naylor, right, launched the local market chain in 2005. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

John, was it ever a consideration to have one of your kids step into the role of chief executive officer?

JN: Absolutely, and it still is. Bringing Mark on, he offers something I can’t really offer. Two of my three kids have been in the business for a while now, and they’re both in senior positions in the company (Atticus Naylor is general manager and Finn Naylor is director of marketing), and they’re still at a point where it’d be great if they could learn some more things. Succession planning is something my wife has been whispering in my ear for the past couple of years. It looks like (Mark) will be able to teach my kids a lot about how to operate on a higher level.

Mark came along at the right time. My kids and Mark have been working together for a year, and the relationship between them is awesome. It’s kind of like a little family, everybody gets along, which helps the whole culture of the store.

Now that you’ve stepped aside from day-to-day operations, what is your role at Rosemont?

JN: My position right now is higher-level stuff – investment and financing. I have a lot of relationships with farms and people in the community that I continually need to introduce Mark to.

I want to be as helpful as I can, to allow Mark what he needs to do to work with my kids. And in the last two years, I’ve got two little granddaughters that are going to need me to hang out with them. Earlier today I got a phone call from (his son) Emmett asking, can you come up Thursday or Friday to put a swing set up for (his granddaughter) Oona. And I’m like, ‘Yeah, I can do that.’ That’s cool. Before Mark, that was never going to happen.


ML: One of the ways we partner really well together is that he’s developed these really complicated supply chains and simplified them in order to support the business. My experience being able to think about how we bring that to market and maybe deepen into these supply chains with new products, new ideas to partner with local farmers on and then bring them to market in a unique way at Rosemont. It’s a really good partnership. That’s 18 years of deep work he’s done in the agricultural community, the food producer community and the wine community. The wine curation that he’s built in these stores is second to none. It’s not easy to execute those types of programs consistently across multiple locations.

Looking back over 18 years of running Rosemont, are there things you’d have done differently?

JN: There are probably a few things, but for the most part, sticking to what the core was really made it happen – the community, the farm support, the local food… Like any business, you make a few bad decisions. But I think you need to make those, you have to live through some of these things to get to the high mark.

How did the pandemic affect Rosemont?

JN: It affected us in a very positive way. It made us a little quicker on our feet. It made staff really good at solving problems, being creative. And that, I think, is good for small businesses. The one thing that hurt, like everybody else, sometimes you wonder where all the workforce went. But we’re having fewer problems than a lot of businesses because (Rosemont) has a good core. It’s a really good place to work. The food and benefits are good. We try to pay our people as well as we can.

ML: It’s been a challenging time to hire, but we’ve done pretty well and I think we’re in good shape comparatively. But it’s still a difficult market for hiring.


JN: During the pandemic, we didn’t have an online curbside thing, but our guys figured it out in 48 hours. We have some extraordinary people with us now, and they’ll probably be with us for a while.

We were making decisions then on a more day-to-day basis, and now we’re good problem-solvers, but we just have to start thinking out a little farther and start to plan a little more into the future. Mark is helping us with that, getting us back to what a normal, good operation would be.

Can you explain what led to the closings of your Commercial Street location in 2018 and the Thompson’s Point market and wine bar this January?

JN: With Commercial Street, downtown is kind of a touristy place, and after September or October, there’s not a lot going on down there. After Commercial Street, I realized that for Rosemont, the neighborhoods were really where it’s at.

That’s what we look for now, communities and neighborhoods. I live in one of the neighborhoods of the stores, and one of the things that makes me the happiest is when I’m out gardening and I see a guy pulling his wagon down the street with his little girl and a Rosemont baguette hanging off the back. That’s what we’re all about. Or when you see a real estate listing that says house for sale, and it says (one of the draws is that) there’s a Rosemont Market down the street. That’s what we’re here for.

Thompson’s Point was just a difficult place for people to get to. We really wanted to highlight our fabulous wine program, but there are just not enough people going down there who could support us. We work well in a community of people who appreciate what we’re trying to do.


Do you plan to open more market locations?

ML: Yes, we do. It’s just a little too soon to say how many or where. In the future, we’ll open more in Maine neighborhoods, but we don’t really know where just yet. I think new areas in the outskirts (of Portland) or maybe even a little farther out.

What do the next five to 10 years look like for Rosemont?

ML: To me, I’m barely a month into this role, but it looks exciting. Rosemont has such a great presence and great products and relationships. For us in the near future, it’s really about how do we continue to bring that to life in new and exciting ways and share that with our communities. Then how can we also try some new things, then potentially use that experience to open some more markets.

It’s very hard to run small, independent grocery stores. There’s a lot of complexity to it, and it’s extremely costly compared to what it is to run large-scale grocery stores. But this is a really unique model, and it’s going to be an exciting few years, for sure.

What would you say has been Rosemont’s biggest impact on local food systems?


JN: It’s been a real benefit for a lot of farmers. We started in 2005 when the local food movement was really starting to build, and I think we’re a huge contributor to it. If you talk to a lot of farmers in the state of Maine, they’re really happy that Rosemont is here.

We’ve also helped out a lot in shoulder seasons with value-added products from a lot of dairy, produce and meat farms. And our customers appreciate it. It’s not inexpensive, but our goal is to make sure we pay and support our farmers. I think it’s important.

ML: Also, there are a lot of small-and medium-size food producers and farmers that need to be commercially viable, and they don’t have the scale to support big chains of stores, so Rosemont is a really good fit for them. It’s really a nice partnership because it can work both ways. We can get really unique, timely seasonal products and delicious food, and they have an outlet that has some buying scale but isn’t too big for them to be able to sell to.

Okay, Bonus Round: If you could only put five items in your Rosemont shopping basket right now, what do you choose?

JN: Chicken from Sumner Valley Farm – it’s pasture-raised and we can only get it in the summer. Local asparagus from R. Belanger & Sons Farm. Strawberries, and our pound cake would be great with the strawberries. A Rosemont baguette, and a Nerello Mascalese from Nicosia. It’s a medium-bodied light red from Sicily that you can chill, so it’s easy summertime drinking.

ML: I’d definitely have the strawberries. Local strawberries are just a whole other level from year-round strawberries. I’d do the Rosemont blueberry pie. We have incredible skill in the pastry department. I’d include a wine that John selected — he’s got a great palate. I’d also get scallops. I’ve been eating a lot of scallops since I moved here, and they’re really phenomenal. We didn’t get this kind of scallop out West. And then I’d throw in a Rosemont baguette – it’s an exceptional baguette.

Anything we haven’t touched on that you wanted to add? 

JN: I’m really happy that Mark has come into Rosemont’s realm, It’s going to be awesome for us. The way he’s gone about his business, staff is inspired. Nobody’s leaving and everybody’s psyched and looking forward. It’s really good to have this kind of inspiration, especially coming out of where we’ve all been for the last couple of years.

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