Five years ago, Steven Campbell and Marissa Stahl-Hodgkins met while working at the bakery of the Whole Foods Market in Portland. Today, they have a place of their own: The Butchers & Bakers, a specialty market on Maine Street.
Both co-owners have distinct goals for the shop. Stahl-Hodgkins wants to improve the accessibility of gluten-free foods, while Campbell is passionate about sustainable meat options and food transparency.
“It’s important for [The Butchers & Bakers to be a] sustainable practice,” Campbell said. “What we want to do is basically put our money where our mouth is, see if it works. A lot of people talk about [shopping] local, and then they’ll shop somewhere else.”
Over the course of their friendship at Whole Foods, Campbell and Stahl-Hodginks discussed their dreams of opening their own bakery over late-night, post-shift phone calls.
“Marissa already had an idea of what she wanted, and I already had an idea of what I wanted. We talked about opening a business together one day,” Campbell said. “I said, ‘I’ll have a cute little butcher shop, you can have a cute little bakery, and we’ll be across the alley from each other.’”
A major reason for starting The Butchers & Bakers was to pay homage to Campbell’s late wife, Deb Campbell. To pay respect to Deb, Campbell insisted that The Butchers & Bakers be a woman-owned business and one that gives back to the community.
“I asked Marissa if she wanted to do business with me so that we could create something special,” Campbell said. “I’m gonna give her 10 of the hardest years I can, the best years I have left, and then we’re going to see her change it. If anybody can do it, [Marissa] can do it.”
For Stahl-Hodgkins and Campbell, the Brunswick area seemed like a perfect place to situate their new business.
“We really did choose Brunswick because of the College,” Stahl-Hodgkins said. “There’s a lot of intellect here. There are a lot of people wanting good quality and gluten-free food. That was a huge factor for us.”
Despite what its name might suggest, this specialty market’s merchandise is not limited to just meat and baked goods. They sell a variety of sandwiches, soups, alcohol and coffee, all of which are gluten-free.
“There was a woman the other day who said she hadn’t eaten a sandwich in eight years. There was another woman that hadn’t had bread in 20 years due to celiac disease,” Marissa said. “I love [seeing] people’s reactions when they find out that we are 100 percent gluten-free.”
In addition to the prevalence of sustainability advocacy in the Brunswick community, Stahl-Hodgkins and Campbell were also impressed with the accessibility of sustainably raised meat.
“We have great farms and great farmers,” Campbell said. “We thought, ‘why don’t we use that resource? It’s right here!’”
Campbell said he prides himself on nurturing relationships with butcher’s apprentices, chefs and the local farm industry.
“[During the hiring process], I couldn’t find a full-fledged butcher,” Campbell said. “But I know people who have experience working in kitchens—chefs and folks who just love cooking. Teaching them where their meat comes from, how the muscles react, has been fun.”
Although the storefront doesn’t mirror Campbell and Stahl-Hodgkins’ initial vision, they are proud of the finished product and are already looking to where the business could go from here.
“Who knows where Butchers & Bakers will be next,” Campbell said. “When an opportunity presents itself, you want to be in a place where you take advantage of it.”