In 1974 Paul Mills and his brother Eugene decided to go into business together, opening Mills Brothers Market, also known by many over the years as Chicken Man. Still located at 1606 Bay Road on Route 1 north of Milford, the business continues to succeed as the two brothers took the original store and expanded into three locations at one time. Paul Mills enjoys telling the story of the 40 year journey.
“I remember putting down a deposit of two hundred dollars to start, and Eugene had to borrow his two hundred from Dad,” Paul laughed. “It began as a small mom and pop store and gradually grew. We were just a couple of farm boys trying to do something different.”
Before opening the first Mills Brothers Market Eugene worked at Medds Market and Paul at Acme Market in Milford for several years, in fact the brothers continued to work those jobs during the day as they prepared their own business after their shifts. Paul contributes their success at the first location to the “on-the-job education that cost us a lot of money.”
The second location was opened in 1983 on SE 2nd Street in downtown Milford. Turning a rundown building into deli and sandwich shop, the brothers focused on providing a good product while emphasizing excellent customer service. In 1985 a third Mills Brothers Market was opened across the street from Perdue Farms on Business Route 1 in Milford, which would later be sold. Gas pumps were added to all the locations during the 1990’s. Now almost 40 years later, two locations continue to serve the Milord community, employing over 40 employees and satisfying hundreds of customers per day.
Paul, now sixty-six years old, and his brother Eugene, now sixty-seven years old, stay on top of the every day operations as their families play a large role in making the business a success. Paul’s wife Barbara and son Judd are crucial to keeping the downtown location running smooth as Eugene’s son Jamie does the same at the Route 1 location.
“I think everyone has a dream of having their own business,” commented Paul. “There are days when I thought it would have been easier to stay at Acme but it would have been hard for me to work anywhere else once I began to see our business grow. We have had offers but I enjoy having the family business.”
Along with his dedication to their own business, Paul and his family have been an integral part of the Milford community in the past and will continue to be in the future. The family has been involved with community organizations including Pop Warner Football, Milford School District and Milford Little League. The business has donated to and held events for countless local non-profit including Home of the Brave and several churches over the years.
“I am all about this city,” commented Paul. “You could offer me the best home in any other city and I wouldn’t take it if I had to live there. That’s how much I love Milford. We have been here for a long time and we are going to be here a lot longer.”
Both Mills Brothers Markets locations are open seven days a week offering freshly made sandwiches from their deli, groceries and toiletries from their convenience store and fuel from their twenty-four hour gas pumps. For more information, the store can be reached by calling 422-6576 for the SE 2nd Street location and 335-5202 for the Route 1 location.