Back to Fort Fairfield Journal      WFFJ-TV      Contact Us






Grocery Store Owner Tells Maine Government to “Stay the hell Out of My Business”


By:  David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, April 21, 2021


PATTEN, Maine - Governments that govern best, govern least is an old axiom that is taken as true in Northern Maine.  A grocery store owner in Patten, Maine has added further clarification in a recent documentary video, telling the Maine government to, “Stay the hell out of my business.”

   Jon Ellis, co-owner of Ellis Family Market/Shop & Save in Patten and East Millinocket was interviewed by State Senator, Trey Stewart (R-Aroostook) for a documentary produced by Maine Policy Council. 

   Ellis is part of the third generation of the Ellis family operating the two stores and has been in the business for the past 38 years since his dad bought the business in 1983.  Ellis takes the word, “family” in the store's masthead seriously.  “We're a true family business, we consider our employees part of our family.  We have an amazing staff that's why it's such an amazing store.  So, we're truly blessed.” 

   He said his stores have been a lot busier over the last 52 weeks, tremendously.  “I wouldn't say it's a healthy 'tremendous,' it's been at the expense of our restaurants.  Because of our geographic location I think a lot of people feel safe coming up here.  We naturally social distance and we've had an influx of business.  On the other hand, I don't think it's been a very healthy business because I feel like everybody's stressed out.  We've given our employees I think three extra bonuses this year, trying to give them some extra time off because everyone is completely exhausted.”

   Ellis has taken the very risk-averse governor Mills to task with her open-ended mandates and continual extension of emergency powers for what all the data now shows is a virus with a fatality rate similar to seasonal flu, which Mainers have lived with for two hundred years without feeling the need to shut businesses down, mandate face masks and otherwise nit-picky micromanage all of Maine's businesses and private lives.   “Right at the beginning when Mills started the mandates she said we're going to do this for a month.  Now we're twelve months into this,” said Ellis.  “When does this end?  More specifically, it was limiting the number of people in the stores and then number two obviously, it was the [face] masks.  She expects us to be the enforcement for masks.  There's people who have medical exemptions. As well, I have several employees that have medical exemptions and so we have to deal with that on a daily basis.”

   Ellis told the Fort Fairfield Journal he has never enforced the governor’s face mask mandate.  Instead, leaving it up to customers to make their own decision whether to wear one or not based upon their personal circumstances..  “I think the biggest thing is that our governor has put out an anonymous tip line so customers come in, they can anonymously call and say they're not wearing masks, they're not social distancing.  Then we get an Email saying if you don't research this we're going to remove your licenses and shut your business down.  Number one, they can't do that and number two, it's wrong, it's fear.”

   The government's reliance on face masks to slow or stop the spread of a respiratory virus stands on very shaky scientific ground.  From all the past scientific research on the matter, there is no evidence cloth or surgical face masks slow or stop the spread of respiratory viruses anywhere, much less in a community setting where the general public, untrained in the proper use of masks, wears them improperly and stores them improperly rendering any beneficial effect the masks might have (but no science has ever conclusively proven) completely useless.  During the governor's mandatory - no exceptions - mask mandate which began in December, “positive” cases of COVID-19 continued unabated even though nearly everyone in society was complying with the mask mandate.  The cases then dropped off naturally and, despite that mask mandate still being in effect, are once again rising - but, this may be due to technical factors other than respiratory spread.

   Mr. Ellis is involved in his community.  In addition to being a major employer in Patten, he is also on the school board.  He has written off governor Mills as irrelevant.  “I don't even listen to her.  She came out with days of March 24, May 24, where do those arbitrary dates come from, I don't know.  If she wants to base everything on a nucleus of the Portland area where most of the people are, God bless her.  But when she gets to Augusta north and off to the coast we're a whole different bird.  We're two different Maines and that's alright.  Portland wants to come up here and have us be the playground, but we got to live, too, and we've got to survive. 

   When Senator Stewart asked what sort of things state government could do to help, Ellis responded and quickly reiterated, “Stay the hell out of my business.”

   “Right now I think it's time for us to gather together and take our towns and our counties and our state back,” advised Ellis.  “The government works for us, we don't work for the government.”

   The documentary video on Ellis Family Market was produced by Maine Policy Council and can be viewed on YouTube