Retired Entrepreneur, Musician & Meat Cutter
It’s a privilege to introduce the “Mainer of the Month” for August 2016, Marc Breton, a retired
songwriter, musician, entrepreneur and meat cutter. In this interview, we merely scratch the surface of Marc’s incredible life journey.
Marc Breton was born in Biddeford, Maine in 1952. He was the third of eight children; Lorraine, Linda, Lucy, Susan, June, John, and Jimmy. They all were raised and grew up in Maine. His mother was a war bride from England and met his father while serving in the U.S. Navy Seabees.
A war bride is a term used in reference to military personnel who married foreign women in times of war or during military occupations of foreign countries. – Wikipedia.org
Marc fell in love with his high school sweetheart.
“It was love at first sight. I remember watching her in high school as a baton thrower. She looked good!”
The two married in 1975 and went on to have two children, Rebekah (1981) and Bethany (1985). They bought a home and raised their family in Saco, Maine.
Marc is now retired and lives in his dream home on Estes Lake, after a long 46 years working as a meat cutter at Shaw’s Supermarket. “This is the life”.
I consider myself just a plain jane guy, but was able to retire. I no longer have anyone to report to… well, besides my grandchildren!
At the age of 14, Marc developed a passion for music and began playing at local venues. His inspiration came from his father who taught him a few chords on the guitar, a young musician who he remembers playing at his high school and his love for the Beatles.
Over the years, Marc played in many different groups. The biggest and most fun were his time with the band, Exit 5. The band cut a 45 record (old Viny record with 2 songs on each side) which you could hear all around Maine on local jukeboxes and radio stations. The two hit songs were both written by Marc; “I need your love” and “Girl of my life”.
“I enjoy singing, writing music and playing the guitar, but producing music is where my heart is at.”
At the time, the band was one of the most popular in the Saco area and played all over Maine.
“We played wherever they would tolerate us.”
By his mid 30’s, Marc started to write and record jingles for local businesses, including (but not limited to), Shaw’s Supermarket, Hollywood Hair, Rapid Rays, and Funtown USA.
“The one I’m the proudest of is the Funtown jingle which ran in the late 1980’s. It was catchy and people loved it. I also wrote the Shaw’s Super Saver jingle which played throughout Maine every 15 minutes. By the end of the day, my coworkers wanted to kill me! (laughs)”
Click below to play the popular Funtown jingle
If Marc was not playing music or working as a meat cutter for Shaws, he was brainstorming ways to become a millionaire.
His first venture started in 1978 when he sold his favorite Corvette in order to purchase a stake into Funtown USA’s new roller coaster called “The Galaxi Coaster”. The partnership was shared with 25 other owners known as Lucre, Inc. The roller coaster was eventually sold back to the owners of Funtown.
A year later, Marc and a couple friends opened a teen disco in Biddeford, Maine at what is now know as the Depot. The venture only lasted a few months as the disco craze was overtaken by Rock’n’Roll.
Marc jokingly replied, “Well, that was OK. I was never a disco guy anyways!”.
Soon after, he purchased a convenient store in Lyman, Jackson’s Corner, which intersects two heavily traveled roads, Route 35 and Route 111. The success of the business allowed him to expand and open an attached ice cream shop named “Ice Cream Haven”. The business was eventually sold.
“That was a great time! I remember all of my family working there to keep things running smoothly.”
Marc’s next venture started out of frustration while working at Shaws Supermarket. Day after day, he would load the meat cases for his customers. This would require him to remove the signage, move all of the older cuts to the front of the case and place the fresh cuts to the back (a real pain in the rump steak – haha). Marc knew there needed to be a better way! He started drawing up designs for a new device with his friend Ken Janson. After a lot of hard work, the pair were issued a United States Patent for the device on August 21, 1984 (Patent #4,466,592).
The patent description reads, “A sign holder especially adapted for use in food display cases such as meat cases wherein a portion of the sign holder is retained in the price tag retention molding of the case, and the sign-holding portion is adapted to move downward out of the way when loading the case and to spring back to its original position when the loading procedure has been completed.”
Marc went on to sell hundreds of units to Shaws and other grocery stores at trade shows in Chicago. The business eventually faded out as new meat cases were developed. Marc didn’t stop there!
In 1989, Marc and business partner, Don Paquette, had a breakthrough idea. They began collecting and selling bicycles out of Marc’s garage in Saco. The business was known as “Bike Icons”. It was so successful the duo was featured in a number of media outlets, such as; The Chronical (Boston-based publication), Channel 13 & Channel 6 news, Downeast Magazine, Portlander Magazine and all the local newspapers. They also showcased their collection at Shaws Supermarket and allowed people to ride a bike at the LeKermesse Festival (everyone rode at their own risk – haha).
Marc’s favorite bikes were the Schwinn Black Phantom and the Schwinn Krate series. He owned all six (Apple Krate, Pea Picker, Lemon Peeler, Orange Krate, Grey Ghost and Cotton Picker) until just a few years ago. To this day, the only bike he refuses to part with is a 1964 Huffy that his parents bought for him with S&H Green Stamps.
S&H Green Stamps were trading stamps popular in the United States from the 1930s until the late 1980s. They were distributed as part of a rewards program operated by the Sperry & Hutchinson company. Customers would receive stamps at the checkout counter of supermarkets, department stores, and gasoline stations among other retailers, which could be redeemed for products in the catalog. -Wikipedia
I helped dig the foundation to Funtown’s Atmosphere ride and was the guinea pig when it came to testing it out. The owners would often ask for my opinion about the choice of music to play. I also became the voice of “the cat meow” at Funtown’s Haunted House ride, which no longer exists.
“Short-lived” Movie Career
In 1996, Marc surprised his family with being extra’s in a major motion picture, The Preacher’s Wife, starring Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington. His daughters were just eleven and fifteen at the time and loved Whitney Houston.
“I’ll always remember the night I came home from work and told my wife and young daughters what we would be doing on Winter vacation. After lots of laughing and guessing, I told them that were all going to be extras in a major motion picture starring Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington. I will never forget the expressions on their face and their excitement.”
Marc and his youngest daughter made the final cut and can be seen in the skating scene (which was filmed at Deering Oaks Park). Marc was wearing a yellow jacket with a hat and daughter a purple jacket. They can be seen in the video attached at 1:55.
In 1996, Marc was back at it again. He and his wife became movie extra’s in the film, Message in the Bottle, starring Kevin Costner, Paul Newman, and Robin Wright Penn. Unfortunately, they never made the final cut.
Marc made a final last pitch effort in his “big movie career” by playing a role in an Inspirational Film Festival. He jokes,
“Where my name was actually in the credits!”.
Lightning Round With Marc Breton
Favorite Restaurant: Davids KPT
Favorite Place: Estes Lake
Favorite Season: Spring
Favorite Beach: Pine Point
What gadget can you not live without? Flashlight
What news outlet do you follow? WCSH
Question & Answers With Marc Breton
1. What has been your biggest success in life?
Obviously, my wife of 41 years and my family, daughters, their husbands and grandchildren. For someone without a college education, I did very well working at Shaws for 46 years, yet still being able to retire at 62 and build my home on Estes Lake. That was always a dream of mine.
2. Tell us what you love about Maine
The change of the seasons – from bright sunny days of Summer to leaves turning beautiful colors in the Fall.
3. Why have you stayed in Maine all your life?
I’m comfortable and happy. I have everything I need and love here.
4. What is one thing you would change about Maine?
I know we need tourism, but the heavy summer traffic is a bummer for a Mainer. I’ve always enjoyed the slower pace of Maine.
5. If you were given $500 to spend in Maine – how would you spend it?
I would invest it in my 1966 Dodge Charger – another dream come true of mine! I’ve always been a Chevy guy, but I fell in love with this Mopar! If there was money leftover, I would take all the kids out for ice cream.
Follow-up: Can you tell me about your cars? What is the one car you haven’t owned but would like to?
I’ve had a lot of nice cars. My favorites were my 1957 Chevy’s, 1969 Corvette and now my 1966 Dodge Charger. I would love to own a 1964 Chevy SS (Super Sport).
6. If you could go back 30 years with all of the knowledge you have today what would you tell yourself?
I always wanted to be a millionaire, but now I realize I am happy with everything I have. I couldn’t ask for anything else.
7. What advice would you give younger generations to prepare them for retirement?
Getting to retirement is all about working hard. I worked 46 years at Shaws and spent most of my weekends playing music. There were a lot of tough times and sacrifices. I also took risks in businesses and the stock market. They didn’t all succeed, but I learned a lot from those experiences.
8. Final Question: What do you mean by “This is the life”?
Well, I consider myself just a plain jane guy, but was able to get to retire. I no longer have anyone to report to (besides my grandchildren).
… I am happy with everything I have. I couldn’t ask for anything else.