Lance Cowan, the owner of The Local in Orono.
Lance Cowan, the owner of The Local, poses for a picture inside his new store on Oct. 11, 2022. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

Lance Cowan remembers the heyday of the Orono Thriftway market from when he was a kid growing up in Orono. 

He remembers the lines that used to stretch from the three registers in the front straight to the back of the store. He remembers the meat counter, one of the only ones in the area for a while, Cowan said. 

Now, after nearly four decades in service, the Thriftway is gone. In its place is Cowan’s new market, The Local.  

The Local in Orono.
The Local seen here Oct. 11, 2022, is a new market in Orono owned by Lance Cowan, who is from Orono. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

The Thriftway has a storied history in Orono as a neighborhood market that catered to locals and college students alike. The market is located between multiple neighborhoods and just outside the University of Maine’s campus. 

Last month, Cowan opened the doors to The Local and presented the town with a fresh market that had received a much-needed facelift, he said. 

“It’s been a staple in Orono for 30, 40 years, probably more than that,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to revitalize it and bring it back.”

Cowan grew up just down the street from his new market. He and business partners Kostas and Kelly Bazmpas started the process of buying the store from its previous owner in 2020, but the deal for the building wasn’t finalized until this past May, he said.

In three months, Cowan’s team of contractors, electricians and plumbers gutted the Thriftway so they could remake the space, Cowan said. 

Lance Cowan, owner of The Local, stocks products.
Lance Cowan, the owner of a new market in Orono called The Local, moves boxes of drinks from the beer cooler on Oct. 11, 2022. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

“When we got in, in May, we knew the place needed a facelift, but we didn’t understand how much of a facelift was needed until we got in,” he said. 

The Local launched with a soft opening about a month ago. It features a completely redesigned interior with wood paneling and new lighting. As for its offerings, it has a robust selection of liquor, a beer cave, fresh produce, cheese, meats and more.

“We felt that Orono was missing a market,” Cowan said. “We wanted to give a kind of small market that people can come in and they don’t have to spend 40 minutes here. They can come in and out.”

An employee at The Local in Orono restocks wine.
ORONO, Maine — An employee at The Local restocks wine on Oct. 11, 2022. The Local is a new market in Orono owned by Lance Cowan, who is from Orono. (Sawyer Loftus | BDN)

So far, in the month it’s been open, Cowan said The Local has generated a healthy amount of foot traffic.

The store’s offerings will expand soon as Bill’s Bagels, a home bagel bakery operation that has sold its goods at farmers markets around the Bangor area, will move its baking operations into the store and open up a counter.

“The best part about it, though, is just the reactions that people get when they first come in,” Cowan said, “especially the people that are from Orono, the locals that know what the Thriftway was 30 years ago.”

The Local, a new market in Orono sells everything from cereal to fresh vegetables, seen here Oct. 11, 2022. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

The Local is open seven days a week. The market is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, and 8 a.m. to 11 p..m. Thursday through Saturday. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays.

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Sawyer Loftus

Sawyer Loftus is a reporter covering Old Town, Orono and the surrounding areas. A recent graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he's worked for Vermont Public Radio, The...