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The Grocery Fortune My Family Had No Idea We Missed Out On
Were your ancestors there when today's massive brands were start-ups?
If you have ever been to New England, specifically Maine, you probably saw at least one Hannaford Brothers grocery store. You might have even bought your eggs and milk at one at some point, too. You can find me at Hannaford at least once a week, buying my favorite foods. Chances are you'll find me in the cocoa aisle (6) grabbing hot chocolate mix.
Until today, I had no idea that my family narrowly missed out on being Hannaford.
I’d known that my 3rd-great-grandfather, George C. Mountfort, was a grocery store owner in the late 1800s in South Portland, Maine. But recently, I did a deeper dive into his grocery business. George and his brother founded it in 1873 and called it “Mountfort Brothers.” Only a few miles away, guess who else founded a grocery business? Arthur Hannaford. He started Hannaford Bros. within the decade (1883).
One of those two grocery businesses had $4,300,000,000 in total revenue in 2022. The other went out of business in the early 1900s. Can you guess which one is which?
I cannot believe it! My family competed with Hannaford Brothers in the late 1800s. In an alternative universe, the Mountforts could have beat them out! But I suppose it wasn’t meant to be. What did your relatives witness? Did they compete with any brands that you see or use daily? Chances are, they might have!
Jack Palmer is a History and Psychology double-major at Duke University. I’ve done genealogy research since I was 10 and love writing about it for family, friends, and anybody else who might enjoy a blast from the past.
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