BRUNSWICK — For nearly a century, Bamforth Marine has been family-owned and located on Maine Street.

Now, the business, started in 1924, may not mark its 100th birthday if a parking lot expansion planned by the nearby Hannaford Supermarket comes to fruition.

“The boats, the trailers, every space you see a boat parked is space they want back,” said Gary Favreau, owner of Bamforth Marine. His grandfather started the business, which originally serviced cars and batteries before moving into marine repair and supply. They’re the oldest Evinrude engine dealer in the state.

The issue stems from a narrow strip of land that surrounds the back and side of Favreau’s business at 206 Maine St., which the business doesn’t own. The space has been used by Bamforth Marine for decades under a license agreement with Hannaford. At this time of year, the area is packed with boats waiting to be serviced before winter storage. While some of the vessels can fit into the garage space, larger boats won’t through the doors and even if they did, wouldn’t fit inside.

While the license agreement with Hannaford started in 1988, the use of the space by Bamforth goes back even further than that.

Gary Favreau points out photos hanging in his shope of the store as it existed in the 1930s.
Staff photo by Chris Chase

“We always had permission to use it,” said Favreau. In the days when elm trees still lined Maine Street, Favreau’s father and grandfather reached agreements with nearby businesses to use portions of their land in exchange for maintaining it. Bamforth has paved the land his boats sit on multiple times.

Hannaford is asking for the land back so it can install a parking-lot expansion. “We’ve been signaling for a long time that we were going to have to make this change, we’ve held it off as long as we could,” said Mike Norton, a representative for the company. “It’s probably several years later than it could have been.”

The property is leased by Hannaford from Pejepscot Historical Society, according to Brunswick’s tax maps.

Norton said the agreement, which allows Bamforth Marine to use the space at no cost, has been longstanding, but the demand at the store and increasing activity downtown has led to the need to expand Hannaford’s parking.

“We had to make a decision around that property, because basically the demand on that property is really strong based on the vibrancy and strength of downtown Brunswick,” said Norton. “We would have been happy keeping the existing arrangement if we could have, but we’ve been pushed by growth.”

A recent letter from Hannaford to Favreau indicates the company wants the space back by Dec. 31.

According to Norton, a dozen or more parking spaces will be installed, intended for employees of the store.

Favreau said he has already been looking for a new location for his business for the same reasons Hannaford is looking to expand its parking. The increased demand downtown, and on Bamforth Marine, has made working in such a small space a challenge. Favreau already has plans drawn up for a new building at a new location.

Outboard motors are stuffed into every nook and cranny of Bamforth Marine, highlighting the limited space. Staff photo by Chris Chase

“I desperately want to move off of Maine Street,” he said.

Finding that location, however, has proven difficult. With real estate costs at a high point, purchasing enough land and building on it would be expensive. Plus, finding a spot that would tolerate the business isn’t easy either.

“Every space I seem to look at in this town, it’s not zoned for what I want to do,” said Favreau.

He does have some locations in mind, and has been in conversation with the town, but nothing is nailed down and he estimates he’s at least a “year out” from having anything lined up.
Instead of a year, he has under a month.

However, the letter announcing the termination of the license agreement initially had an earlier date, which was extended to Dec. 31 by Hannaford. According to Norton, that time can’t be extended any further.

“We really do feel like that is space that we’re going to need to take care of our customers,” he said. “When the space was not as in demand it was relatively easy to say, ‘yeah, this is an understanding, this is the way we do business.’ There comes a point where you start to disadvantage your own customers.”

For Favreau, it would mean being unable to perform maintenance on larger boats at the facility, being unable to access two of his exterior doors, and likely being unable to continue the business.

Boats located at the rear of Bamforth Marine would have to go in order to accommodate parking spots planned by Hannaford. Staff photo by Chris Chase

“Basically, they’ll run me off Maine Street,” he said.

All he asks, he said, is that Hannaford gives him enough time to move the business.

“Work with me as long as you can.”