Art Bisson and his brother Bob Bisson preparing beef steaks Payal Gangishetti / The Times Record

After 92 years, an iconic family-run butcher shop in Topsham will be closing its retail store this August.

The third-generation owners of L&P Bisson and Sons, a dairy and meat market on Meadow Road in Topsham, recently announced plans to close the retail store their grandfather started, citing health issues and lack of employees because of the pandemic.

“We have been doing this for years now, but lately, we are unable to keep up with things,” said one of the owners, Priscilla Pollock. “We are not able to get enough help we can rely upon. Before the pandemic, we had four girls work with us at the store, but they quit as soon as the pandemic started. Now we are unable to find any help considering there are not many youngsters around.”

Pollock has worked at the family farm and the retail store with her 10 siblings since she was a kid. While other siblings went in different directions, Pollock said that she and her three brothers stuck around and took care of the family business.

Pollock said her grandparents Arthur and Odile Bisson bought a dairy farm in 1929 and named it Beachwood Farm Dairy, where they would milk cows to sell to local stores. Later, the couple bought a slaughterhouse and some farms in the area.

Pollock’s father, Paul Bisson, expanded the business, added a larger storefront in 1968 and renamed the business L&P Bisson and Sons.

The store is currently run by Priscilla Pollock, 72, and her three brothers Art Bisson,70, Bob Bission, 71, and Andy Bisson, 63.

These days, Art and Bob manage the retail market store and smokehouse, while his brother Andy is in charge of the farm, dairy, and slaughterhouse, buying and selling cattle, and Pollock takes care of the accounts. On most of the days, their children also help them in the farms and the smokehouse.

Pollock, however, said it’s getting difficult for her aging siblings and her to manage everything on their own.

“We start our day at 3 a.m. and continue till late in the evening. It’s a lot of work to manage, considering we are getting older now,” said Art Bisson. “It’s not the store alone that we manage. We also slaughter animals and process them for other farms. We are unable to keep up with the things, it’s just too much to handle. Our health is not supporting us anymore.”

Art Bisson added that it’s not an overnight decision to shut down the store and they have been thinking about it for some time now. “Even our kids are not willing to take over the business as they think it’s too much work to handle,” he said.

From left, Art Bisson, Priscilla Pollock, Bob Bisson and Diana Bisson. Payal Gangishetti

The store has been serving the town’s 8,000 residents with fresh meat and dairy products, like beef, chicken, pork, raw and pasteurized milk, cream, butter, and a few other grocery items. The meat accounts for most of their business.

Their smoked chicken is a fast-moving item, especially their chicken pies made with their family recipe. “Pies usually are our fast-selling items. We always ensure we have enough stocked up for our customers,” said Pollock.

Even during the pandemic, Pollock said they managed to do curbside business, though the store was closed. “We had like 400 customers one day. It’s heartbreaking to shut down the store. We are thankful to our customers for supporting us all these years,” said Pollock.

“I have been visiting the store for more than 20 years now. My father knew the store owners personally. They are very friendly and welcoming. It’s sad that the store is shutting down, said Kim Harvery Tessari, a resident of Gardiner. “We travel to Topsham once every month to buy milk, butter, steak and bacon from them. I was raised on a dairy farm, so when I visit the store, it smells the same. It’s a lot of good memories for me.”

The Family Business Statistic 2021 states that only 30% of family-owned businesses last until the second generation, and only 12% will make it to the third generation. Moreover, 47% of people who own a family business plan to retire within the next five years but don’t have any succession plan in place.

“It’s sad that the Bissons are closing their store. It’s a famous store and people like visiting them. In general, we have been hearing about the hiring need for quite some time now from many businesses. Maine has had an aging population for a long time now, so we knew this was coming,” said Cory R. King, executive director of Southern Midcoast Maine Chambers.

The Bissons will continue to sell their dairy products like milk and butter and are contemplating selling hamburgers and pies.

The store is currently open on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Most of the freezers and shelves empty at the L&P Bisson and Sons LLC store in Topsham.


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