On Sept. 9 2022, Lance Cowan opened an all-new Orono marketplace called The Local, located on Park Street outside of the University of Maine campus.
The Local was built on the foundation of Thriftway, an older neighborhood market and a staple in the town of Orono for several decades. Customers familiar with the older Thriftway will enter The Local and be greeted with an all-new polished interior complete with wood paneling along the walls and a refurbished front-end design.
As an Orono native, Cowan has been in the local industry for around ten years. He was previously affiliated with many different Orono businesses such as the Orono House of Pizza. When Cowan and his team acquired the location earlier this summer, he looked to give the store a much-needed rework.
The Local has been operating for the past month after a small but steady launch.
Cowan knew that the store needed to make a good first impression in order to live up to the previous store’s legacy. The team made sure to refine and polish the store in every way possible, all the way down to fixing bugs with the computer system.
“We didn’t want to get too busy and not be ready for it,” Cowan said. “First time people come in, the experience wouldn’t be good for them.”
Because of the location of the market on Park Street, UMaine students with limited vehicle transportation are able to walk down and grab much-needed essentials if they choose. The Local operates on the idea that customers will grab their desired items and exit the store within a reasonable timeframe, designing its layout for convenience.
Cowan states that The Local will try and get as many local products available as possible. However, on top of providing essentials, The Local offers some exclusive products as well. As for any novelty items, The Local will try to expand into other niche products like soaps, scented candles, and mugs.
Other collaborations that The Local partners with include other local businesses such as Bill’s Bagels, based in Eddington. Coming soon, The Local will add in a special Bill’s Bagels section within the store for customers to stop by and order freshly made bagels. Customers can also purchase them in singles or in a three-pack.
Coffee is another product at the store provided by other local businesses. Freshly roasted coffee bags are provided by Black Bear Roasting in Orono, and ground coffee bags are provided by Carrabassett Coffee Company and Katahdin Coffee Co.
Not only will The Local function as an all-in-one convenient location, but as a distributor of products from Maine businesses.
As for possible goals in the near future, Cowan says that he and his company want to get into delivery using a Point of Service system so that people can order their necessities online as well.
The Local has received very positive feedback from the Orono community. With the Bill’s Bagels addition opening soon and the delivery system in the works, Cowan and his team have revitalized a staple of Orono’s local business and turned it into something new and exciting.
“To be able to revitalize it, to bring it back, has been fulfilling,” Cowan said. “If you had seen the store before, we knew we had to give it a complete facelift. Going into it, we had to bring new life to it.”
The store is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.