2012-08-24 / In the News

Scarborough resident buys popular market

By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer

Alan Cardinal of Scarborough, the new owner of Legion Square Market in South Portland, known locally as Smaha’s, said he has no plans to make drastic changes to the store. (Jack Flagler photo) Alan Cardinal of Scarborough, the new owner of Legion Square Market in South Portland, known locally as Smaha’s, said he has no plans to make drastic changes to the store. (Jack Flagler photo) SOUTH PORTLAND — The name of Legion Square Market, known to locals as Smaha’s, will not be changing. Nor will the staff, the selection of products, or the feel of the store. But for the first time since 1939, Smaha’s will no longer be owned by a member of the Smaha family.

Tom Smaha, who has run the store since 1967, when he inherited the business from his father, decided this spring to put the store on the market. Smaha, 68, said he thought it might take years to sell the store, but within weeks he found a buyer — Alan Cardinal, a former Hannaford executive from Scarborough.

Cardinal said Smaha’s was a perfect fit for his needs. He said the store has a “wonderful legacy” in a “wonderful community” of loyal customers, and he stressed that customers can expect the same shopping experience they have become used to since the longstanding market opened in 1939.

Alan Cardinal Alan Cardinal Cardinal said in a news release that he and his wife, Sylvia Most, a former Scarborough Town Councilor, “will continue to operate the store in the hands-on tradition of a family business.”

“I want people to understand, whatever they hear about or see. It’s not changing what this brand is. It will always have the Legion Square Market connection. Right now, there’s no plan for a change,” Cardinal said.

Smaha felt it was important to find a buyer for the store that would keep the family name and tradition alive. He started working at the store at the age of 14, sweeping, cleaning and performing whatever other odd jobs needed to be done. Since then, Smaha said he has made sure the store prioritized personal contact and devotion to quality that he is confident will continue.

“We’ve earned the reputation of doing things right and people like it, especially the locals,” Smaha said.

Cardinal officially assumed ownership of the store on Aug. 1, but Smaha plans to stay at the store through the end of October to assist with the transition. Smaha also said he will come in for a few days to help out during the busy holiday season, when he said business quadruples. Then, he plans to enjoy his retirement.

“I’m going to travel some. I like to boat, so I’ll spend some more time on my boat during the summer,” Smaha said. “I’ve got four kids in the area and five grandchildren. We’ll stay busy.”

Smaha was a vocal critic of the South Portland City Council’s decision to change the parking arrangement in the Knightville area to a parallel parking arrangement on both sides of the street. At a council workshop on Monday, Aug. 20, Smaha, Cardinal and Most were in attendance along with a number of other business owners and customers in the area to protest the change.

The council ultimately decided by a 6-1 decision to maintain the angled parking in front of Smaha’s and the other shops on Ocean Street between D Street and E Street. Traffic on that section of Ocean Street will become one-way when construction finishes in the fall.

“I think in this process, what it showed is local government at its best,” said Cardinal.

“It was an open process. I heard everybody ask questions all around, share their opinions, and then come to a conclusion. I really appreciate watching that in action, that’s what this is all about.”

“There seems to be a spirit of compromise and understanding,” said Most. “The decisions are a balance of what the engineers and the theory say is the best, and what the public feels is the best.”

No matter how his customers park in front of the store, Cardinal said he’s looking forward to serving the nearly 2,000 people who shop at Smaha’s each week.

“I’m excited to continue Legion Square Market’s tradition of providing quality products and great service to the local community,” Cardinal said.

“The Smaha family’s practices established a trust with customers that will remain unbroken.” Want to comment on this story? Login to our website at www.leader.mainelymediallc.com and leave your thoughts.

Return to top