(Freeport, Maine) – Shopping at Bow Street Market in Freeport, Maine, is a sweet reminder of days gone by; a time when local foods were the order of the day, and the grocer knew everyone by name. It’s an independent, family owned business that’s built on “the memories of what food shopping used to be.” Stroll through its aisles, chat with the bakery staff, the butchers, the produce people, and you’ll come to understand why this neighborhood market is a cornerstone of the community.
“Bow Street Market is an amazing place,” says Gerry Lalime, a Career Resource Specialist for Work Opportunities Unlimited. “It’s been sustaining and supporting the community for decades, and nowhere is that more evident than in their philosophy of providing opportunity for all. Yes, Bow Street’s niche is rooted in selling exceptional local farm products to their customers, but they go the extra mile when it comes to hiring and supporting people with disabilities, especially people with significant challenges.”
Chris, William, Carmen and Carnie are fixtures at Bow Street Market. Chris owns aisle 3; he stocks the shelves with care and precision, it’s the same for Carmen in aisle 6. Don’t even think about washing the dishes in the deli on Mon., Wed., Thurs., as that is Chris’s domain; William rocks it in the meat department and Carnie is new to the job and works hard supporting the deli staff.
“Bow Street has been great at carving out positions according to our client’s abilities,” says Lalime. “But what’s truly amazing, is the thoughtful ways in which they have designed a workplace environment that recognizes the needs of these employees, and then works to support them while on the job; it’s unbelievable to see them in action.”
“All of our team members are engaged in the process,” says Jim Frey, general manager at Bow Street Market. “We’re very much into teaching and guiding, so if we see someone struggling, having a bad day or if they seem a little lost, we step in.”
“When I started with William four years ago, I explained his disability to management and they, in turn, educated their staff and explained the process for communication with William,” says Lalime. As a result of their attention to what matters, they have natural supports in place and Chris, William, Carmen and Carnie are thriving there; they are an integral part of the Bow Street workforce.
“We recognize that everyone has ability, that everyone has something they can contribute,” says Frey. “We always like to give someone a chance, but the reality is, these are jobs that need doing; they’re time consuming, and when we’re busy, they’re the tasks that get left behind. Carmen checks dates on food, Chris helps with stocking and doing dishes… it’s all very helpful and allows us to focus on the bigger picture. So, to have these employees come and work hard to get the job done, benefits us all. Here at Bow Street, they’re not sheltered behind a wall somewhere, they’re out on the floor mixing with customers, and that’s the way it should be.”
“Our clients would not be successful without the team of incredible people at Bow Street,” says Lalime. “No one sees Chris, William, Carmen and Carnie as ‘less than’, they see them as enhancing the workforce; it’s a remarkable place with remarkable people.”