Memories: Thriftway

Orono Thirftway
(Courtesy of Google Maps)
From its maroon exterior paint to the asbestos tiled-floors, there is only one food market that has been servicing stein fillers for decades, it’s the Orono Thriftway on Park Street.

Where the alcohol selection outnumbered food items 2-to-1, the good people of Thirftway knew their clientele and aimed to please. Where else could you find Bud Ice, Red Dog, and Natural (Nattie) Light in 30-racks and all at the same place?

Only a short walk from the north part of campus or the nearby apartment complexes, Thriftway was the first stop every Friday night for many students and weekend guests (Editor’s Note: Perhaps second stop, first was to pick-up your buyer or stop at the bank for cash). Knowing that 10 bucks could get you a handle of Popov vodka was information more valuable than the answers to any exam for a college student. Stocked with brand names you have never heard of before or again, the selection of food was based more on convenience than quality.

Perhaps it was the hybrid nature of the Thriftway building itself, also housing a laundromat on the first floor and apartments on the second deck. The sun-bleached yellow lettering on the front of the store stood like a dimly lit beacon to thirsty college students passing by at night.

Bigger supermarkets have arrived in the area over the last few decades, mainly the IGA and Hannaford’s in Old Town. But when it comes to charm and beer selection mixed with a touch of dirt and roaches, the Orono Thirftway will always hold a special place in the hearts of many stein fillers.

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