Known for always having the basic essentials from beer to subs, this corner store located at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Marlborough Street is about to enter a new chapter in its long life in the neighborhood.
Established in 1939, Marlboro Market has been serving the needs of the Back Bay for close to a century. Now, the current owners, the Malone Family, are stepping down after 45 years of ownership. The store is switching hands to a new family made up of five brothers from the Middle East.
“I never thought we would sell,” said Deb Malone. “I used to run the store with my sister Michelle, who passed away this past September. I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to sell to someone who is interested. This is really a two-person job; as of right now, I have no life.”
The Malone family opened the basement to retail sales in 1980, doubling the size of the store. They added a deli and have a wide selection of craft beer, wine, and liquor. Due to its proximity to so many schools, it is known for showcasing the vast amount of fake ID’s on the wall.
One thing, Deb said her family always was proud of the fact that they were open every day of the year, no matter what.
During the Blizzard of ’78, the store was featured on the local news because it was still open.
Her father and uncle bought the store from two brothers going back to Italy. The store went from from two Italian immigrants to two Irish immigrants, and is now going to a crop of new immigrants from the Middle East. Deb said it was important that the store remain in the community, and she’s happy that is going onto another family.
Deb grew up in Stoneham, with her two sisters. When she was younger she would travel with her father into Boston every weekend and school vacation to help out. Her first job was to sort the recycling for 25 cents an hour.
“My father would come in at a quarter to five in the morning and say, ‘It’s time to make the donuts!’, or if it was in the winter and snowing outside he would sing, ‘Baby its cold outside,’” said Deb.
Eventually, Deb and her sister Susan took over the store after her father and uncle wanted to retire in 2009. Following that stint, Deb moved to L.A. for some time before returning in 2012 to run the store with her other sister Michelle.
“It’s a lot of responsibility and the neighborhood has changed so much,” said Deb. “When we first took over the store it was not a very nice neighborhood – it was very sketch-tastic.”
Deb said that her Dad taught her to have a really great work ethic and working so many hours is worth it.
“It’s been a great experience,” said Deb. “I got to meet all the different people who came in here. The market itself is an institution.”
She’s run into people from as far away as L.A., New York City and Florida who have stopped her in the street to say, “OMG I love your store!”
“It stays with people,” said Deb. “Even though my family no longer owns the store there are a lot of memories and that’s ok.”
Deb said she struggled with the thought of having to sell the store but, her sister, Susan, who currently has another great job, wouldn’t have been able to help. Deb grappled with the question on how you give up something that has no rent and no loan and helped her father provide for a wife and three kids.
But, she realized it was more of her father and uncle’s dream than her own. It was a lot of work for one person to do so, it was time to move on.
Deb said she feels comforted that the memories of the store will continue to go on.
“It is a part of the community and people’s memories from college students to young professionals in their 20s to people living in the Back Bay,” said Deb.
After getting off the phone Deb relied the message of her father Tom who said, “There’s so many stories it can fill a book.”
Up next, Deb said she is continuing to move from the Back Bay to Revere. Although she’s not sure what she’s going to do next she’s excited to take some well earned vacation time to re-boot and start over.
“I’ve been so focused on this and the sale and moving everything at the same time that I don’t know what the next chapter will be,” said Deb. “It feels really good to have no idea, but there’s a little bit of fear too.”