The West Falmouth Market on Route 28A, which has been a staple in the community since 1902, is now under new ownership. In the next few months, customers can expect to see significant changes to the store’s operations.
Danielle A. and Thomas G. Johnson of North Falmouth purchased the building on November 16 from previous owners Branch J. Parrish of West Falmouth, Kenneth Cook of Centerville and Martin R. Macrae of Mashpee. The transaction was facilitated by The Realty Advisory, Inc., of Centerville.
The popular market has been in the Parrish family since 1984, but has a much longer history in Falmouth.
Owner and founder William F. Bourne established the local business in 1899, when he first began traveling door-to-door with a butcher’s cart selling meat to local families. The market was built in 1902 under the name W.F. Bourne Meat & Provisions, otherwise known as Bourne’s Market. Over the years, the store evolved into the West Falmouth Market and began providing grocery items, frozen foods and ice cream; during World War II, newspapers were sold from the store for the first time.
Now, Mr. and Ms. Johnson will make their own mark on the market’s history.
The couple previously lived in Sterling, but frequently traveled for work, Ms. Johnson to Worcester as a banker and Mr. Johnson all over New England as a medical sales representative.
A few years ago, Mr. Johnson was diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer. Over the course of his treatment, Mr. Johnson saw 11 different doctors, had nine surgeries and underwent 39 rounds of radiation. He recovered from his wounds last year, but while Mr. Johnson was still in treatment, his mother and two friends died. At that point, he and his wife decided to chart a new course in life.
“We decided that life was far too short to be doing what we didn’t like,” Ms. Johnson said.
In contrast to their lives spent working in urban centers, the pair had dreamed about owning and operating a small-town market for over a decade. The couple was intimately familiar with Falmouth, where Mr. Johnson’s parents had lived since 1986, and in August Mr. and Ms Johnson moved to North Falmouth full time.
When asked about their inspiration for purchasing the West Falmouth Market, Ms. Johnson said, “We love food, we love wine, we love people and I love to cook.”
Since starting at the market earlier this month, Mr. and Ms. Johnson have taken a hands-on approach to its operations. In the past two weeks, the couple has already introduced entirely homemade soups cooked by Ms. Johnson; started a dinner delivery service; added about 25 new wine selections; and created social media accounts for the store on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
“We’re both working about 120 hours a week apiece,” Ms. Johnson said excitedly.
The new home-delivery service was inspired by Mr. Johnson’s mother, who lost her driver’s license near the end of her life. Grocery stores in town would not travel out to North Falmouth, so for nine months Mr. and Ms. Johnson visited Falmouth regularly with collections of frozen home-cooked meals.
“For any of the homebound elderly people, we want to make sure we provide good food, good wine and good groceries,” Ms. Johnson said.
And there are still more changes to come: inspired by her love of cooking, Ms. Johnson hopes to increase the number of foods made from scratch, add a grocery section for gluten-free options and work with the Falmouth Farmers Market to introduce more local produce.
Drawing from his background in sales, Mr. Johnson has been working with vendors to reduce product prices and “pass the savings down to the customers.” Ms. Johnson said the owners have already been able to drop prices on their wine and beer selections. Ms. Johnson also plans to host weekly wine tastings leading up to the holiday season, starting December 3 with an organic wine assortment.
When the couple purchased the market last month, they also inherited an open building permit for extensive renovations. Ms. Johnson said that construction was originally planned for October, but was interrupted by the market’s sale.
In the next few months, Ms. Johnson said they would make minor aesthetic changes, such as re-painting the building. Full construction could begin in February, and the couple plans to add more retail space and double the size of the kitchen.
Some things, however, will stay the same.
“Multiple people have told me we can’t change the squeaky door,” she said, laughing.
As they plan for the future, Ms. Johnson said she and her husband want to take community input into account: customers can send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Outside of her work at the market, Ms. Johnson said she hopes to get involved with some local organizations, including the Falmouth Service Center, Emerson House and West Falmouth Library.
Mr. Johnson—whose father is hall of famer Thomas (Tomcat) Johnson of the Boston Bruins—is an avid hockey player and fan, and he has already connected with and donated to the local hockey booster club.