By Bill O'Brien
TRAVERSE CITY — There's new ownership at Old Town's oldest market.
Mark and Stephanie Wilson of Traverse City purchased Maxbauer Specialty Meat Market this week from long-time owner Mike Deering. The store dates to 1913 in Old Town and moved to its current location at 407 S. Union St. in 1918. A purchase price was not disclosed.
"I'm a passionate foodie," said Mark Wilson, who worked as the Maxbauer store manager under Deering from 1999 to 2005. Wilson said he began pestering Deering about buying the store not long after he left.
"I've been bugging him for seven years," Wilson said. "He decided it was finally time to let go of the reins a little."
Deering, who owned the store for 32 years, will continue as a mainstay behind the meat counter. He'll also continue to own the Maxbauer's After Hours store at 542 W. Front St.
"I'm just going to work part-time now, 40 hours a week," Deering said.
Wilson has spent more than half his life in the grocery business. He started as a teenage stock boy and bagger at an IGA store in his home town of Gaylord.
At age 21 he joined Tom's Food Markets chain in Traverse City owned by Dan Deering, a shirt-tail relative of Mike Deering. Wilson ran the meat department at a Tom's store and eventually was promoted to store manager.
Wilson also worked for the Glen's Markets chain, and in customer service and employee training for Bed, Bath & Beyond in Traverse City.
Wilson said Maxbauer will continue to feature a top-quality meat department. He's planning some changes, including re-aligning the store aisles and will offer to-go foods, including ready-made ribs. He'll also have a sommelier to help bolster the store's wine selection. The market has 14 employees.
"We're going to be the store with the meat experts," Wilson said. "There's a lot of talent here."
He also wants to highlight the market's history and that of the surrounding neighborhood by displaying old photographs of its early days. Some old meat-cutting and creamery equipment also are on display as the store gears up for its 100th anniversary next year.
"One of the things that we really want to celebrate is the history here and the nostalgia," said Stephanie Wilson, who met her husband at the store in 2001. She's director of business development at Integrity Home Health Care in Traverse City, and will help out at the store part-time.