CAMDEN – Happy Birthday, French & Brawn. The market place celebrated 150 years in the same location on Saturday, June 16. Occupying the same corner at Elm and Mechanic streets in downtown Camden, it was originally called the Cleveland and Simonton Store established in 1868, and then victim of the fire of 1892, which leveled much of the town. It was rebuilt on the same location. The store was incorporated as French & Brawn in 1963.
Current owner Todd Anderson purchaed the business in November 1994.
"The only thing we did differently happened a couple of years after I took over when we expanded the retail space, "Anderson said. "The meat case was moved and the coffee and deli was in the wine corner so we moved all that back and created a much larger retail space."
They were able to expand by a third.
"I've had the store for 24 years," he said. "It's fun and I enjoy it. It's great being in the heart of downtown. It's always busy year-round because we are right in the center."
Anderson said he is lucky because he has a low turnover of employees.
"I was just looking at that last night," he said. "We have 10 people with over 10 years with us, but between those 10 people they have more than 205 years experience. And, we have an additional 18 people we employ on top of that and they range from recent hires to eight or nine years."
Anderson said there are no big changes planned for the store, but they do evolve.
"We do a lot more prepared meals now," he said. "Complete meals thar families can just take home because the unfortunate thing now is that both parents work. People just don't have two or three hours to prep a meal."
F&B cuts their own meats to ensure top quality. Anderson said his favorite cuts are the tenderloin and the marinated hanger steak.
"We love being here," he said. "And we love being part of the community and we love everybody who shops her because without them, there is no us."
Visitors to the store on Saturday were treated to free hot dogs and Cony dogs, cold brewed coffee and chips. Boar's Head meat gave out samples of different salami and cheese, as well as, prepared bratwurst. Free coffee and granola were also available.