Our Story

Shaw's Vintage Trailer

It all started in 1860. 

Shaw’s is one of the oldest continuously operated supermarkets in the United States with New England roots that were firmly planted in 1860, when George C. Shaw opened his first store in Portland, Maine. A few years later, another native New Englander, Maynard A. Davis, opened his first ‘Public Markets’ in Brockton and New Bedford Massachusetts.

Together, these two men sowed the seeds that would one day become Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc. And over the past 150 years, their growth can be directly attributed to the ingenuity of these two men and their belief in offering quality products and quality service.

Today, Shaw’s® and Star Market® continues to thrive and is working to become the favorite food and drug retailer in every state it operates.  Shaw’s is one of the oldest continuously operated supermarkets in the United States with its roots dating to 1860. Throughout five New England states, there are 154 store locations (including Star Market) employing approximately 19,000 employees.

Historical Dates:

  • May 26, 1860 – Twenty-seven year old George Clinton Shaw opened a small retail grocery store at 285 Middle Street in Portland, Maine. The store carried 100 items, most of which were not available from local farmers.
  • 1919 – Another ambitious New Englander named Maynard A. Davis moved from Maine to Massachusetts to seek his fortune. He established a group of small downtown grocery stores in the Brockton and New Bedford areas called Brockton Public Markets, or BPM stores. In 1919, Davis purchased the George C. Shaw Company of Portland, Maine, and operated the two companies independently.
  • 1941 – Shaw’s and BPM Stores were converted to self-service, a bold move in those days.
  • 1948 – Shaw’s/BPM began the New England Food Buyers Association, a member-owned food co-op in order to compete more effectively with the “house brands” of larger chains. This association later became Topco associates of Chicago. Today, Shaw’s continues to offer quality and value with its selection of own brands.
  • 1951 – George C. Shaw built and anchored the first “shopping center” in Maine, with the opening of its Millcreek Shopping Center in South Portland.
  • 1954 – Brockton Public Markets opened its West Shopping Center in Brockton, MA.
  • 1965 – George C. Shaw opened the first two Shaw’s locations outside of Maine in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and Derry, New Hampshire.
  • 1971 – Construction of the new offices and distribution center in East Bridgewater (Laurel Street) began. The East Bridgewater DC boasted a capacity to receive 11 railroad cars indoors, and featured 49 shipping/receiving doors. An additional 120,000 square feet of space was added 6 years later, bringing the total area under the roof of the EB distribution center to more than nine acres.
  • 1974 – Scanning Cash Registers – On August 12, 1974, Data General installed a pre-production version of its supermarket scanning system at the Stoughton BPM, the third store in the United States to install and continue to operate a customer scanning system.
  • 1979 – George C. Shaw & Company officially merged with BPM to form Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc. There were 37 stores at the time – 23 stores in the north and 14 stores in the south.
  • 1984 –A second distribution center in opened in Wells, Maine. The Wells DC was 252,000 square feet, of which 70,000 was for frozen food product. 180,000 square feet was dedicated to dry grocery, with the remaining square footage used for offices and maintenance facilities. Three years later, a 230,000 square foot expansion was added to the building.
  • 1986 – There were 47 Shaw’s Supermarket stores operating by the end of 1986.
  • During the mid-1980s, the Shaw’s SuperStore concept was rolled out, with the first superstore opening in 1984 (Dover, NH). The superstore concept increased the store size from 42,000 square feet to 53,000 square feet. Perishable department space also increased in size.
  • 1987 – Shaw’s acquired Iandoli’s Supermarkets in the Worcester-area, bringing the store count to 60.
  • 1988 – Shaw’s opened its first store in Rhode Island, located in Woonsocket.
  • 1981 – J Sainsbury plc of the United Kingdom purchases a 21% share of Shaw’s supermarkets.
  • 1987 – On July 23, 1987, Shaw’s became a wholly owned subsidiary of J Sainsbury
  • 1993 – Shaw’s acquires Cerretani’s Supermarkets north of Boston.
  • 1996 – Shaw’s acquires 8 Almacs Supermarkets locations in Rhode Island
  • 1997 – Shaw’s opens its first stores in Vermont (Colchester, and Berlin Corners).
  • 1999 – Shaw’s acquires Star Market, gaining a major presence in Greater Boston.
  • The rest is history.

Shaw’s Today – In 2013, our parent company, AB Acquisition LLC, acquired Shaw’s from SUPERVALU, a transaction that brought all Albertsons stores under singular ownership again and added Jewel-Osco, ACME Markets, and Star Markets to the growing food and drug retailer. Today, Shaw’s operates 154 stores throughout New England, which is part of a 2,200+ store operation that employs approximately 265,000 people nationwide.

All of our stores, no matter what banner they operate under, were founded around the philosophy of offering customers the products they wanted to buy at a fair price, with lots of tender, loving care. We still open our doors every day today with that in mind, and because of it, we run really great stores.

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