The formula worked. Marshall opened a second store in Tewksbury, then a third store in Bedford. After living in a trailer behind the fruit stand, Marshall and his first wife, Marirose, and their three children moved into a new house near the Beverly store.
“He would walk home for dinner, then go back to the store,” his son said.
Two decades after the first store opened, when Marshalls had grown to a chain of 32 stores, including three in California, Marshall and his three partners decided it was time to sell. In 1976, Melville Shoe Corp., which owned Thom McAn shoe stores, bought Marshalls for $40 million.
Marshall, who loved sailing and warm weather, moved to the Caribbean. As part of the deal with Melville Shoe, he retained the right to use the Marshalls name in the Caribbean. Eventually, he opened a total of five stores on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. Maarten.
“He saw so much business opportunity down there,” Ronald Marshall said. “In the Caribbean, everybody gouged everybody. Al was always a discounter. He had the first discount store in the Caribbean. Tourists would get off ships on the islands, and when they saw the name ‘Marshalls,’ they couldn’t believe it was the same name.”
He also started a car dealership on St. Maarten, Marshall Motors, where his grandson, Aaron, works.
Ronald Marshall said his father was modest about his achievements, always declining to be interviewed about his story.
“He was never a man to boast about what he did,” his son said. “He thought it was self-indulgent. He was a very simple man.”
Marshall hadn’t lived in Beverly for years, but his services were held Thursday at Temple B’nai Abraham on East Lothrop Street, which he attended for years. He was buried in the family plot at the Sons of Abraham cemetery on Cole Street.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or email@example.com.