Managing the Menemsha Market this season isn’t just a summer job for the Olivers, it’s returning home. Kevin and Liz Oliver ran the market for 16 seasons together until 2012. And Mrs. Oliver’s family, the Sewards, ran the market for 32 seasons, beginning in 1948.

After five years away, Kevin, 45, and Liz, 44, (real name Elizabeth, but only her parents call her that) are returning to run the market with their four kids in tow.

“Menemsha was never quite the same after they left,” said Liz’s father, Doug Seward. “It was like the end of an era for the Sewards, the store was done. And to have this opportunity now, this year due to Debbie Packer being so gracious to rent it to’s just great.”

Menemsha Market is a compact grocery store, souvenir shop and candy counter that has anchored the up-Island outpost since the 1920s. Opened by postmaster Carl Reed in 1921, the market also served as Menemsha’s post office for years. In 1948, William C. Seward purchased the Menemsha store from Mr. Reed and took over the position as postmaster. His wife Barbara Flanders Seward served as postmistress after him, and the job retired with her.

Doug Seward, now 70, grew up above the store in the apartment his father built. He remembers waking up at 5 a.m. to the “gruff purring” of the Little Lady, Lenny Jason’s boat, and falling asleep at night to the sound of the bell buoys.

Liz Oliver's father, Doug Seward, spent summers in the apartment above the market, after his father William Seward purchased the store in 1948. — Mark Lovewell

“It was the golden age of Menemsha,” Mr. Seward said. In those days, the Menemsha Market was called Bill’s Seagoing Grocery. It stayed open from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. doing an early morning/late night trade for fishing fleets from Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

“My mother would open it at eight and she’d give up about seven or eight at night before my father would finish up,” Mr. Seward recalled. “It was really bustling back then.”

William and Barbara Seward owned and operated the market from 1948 to 1970. During Doug’s childhood, the profits from the market would sustain the Seward family all year long, though they supplemented their winter meals with leftover canned goods from the store.

In 1970, they sold the market to David, Doug’s twin brother, who ran the it for another 10 years. David sold it to the Packers, who owned the land on either side of the shop.

Barbara Seward returned in the mid 1980s, running the store as a part of the Golden Girls, with Dorothy Emin and Olga Thompson. After that, management of the store changed hands a number of times, from Liz Packer to Danny Bradley to Sam Carroll back to Liz Packer again and then to Bob Renear, if the Olivers and Mr. Seward’s memories serve correctly.

They were barely out of college when Kevin and Liz heard that Mr. Renear wasn’t planning on running the market again.

“We were at Thanksgiving dinner,” Kevin remembered. “I immediately excused myself from the table and took Liz with me.”

“We ran up the stairs,” Liz said.

While Kevin was all in, Liz had some reservations at first.

“What would my mother think,” Liz recalled. “You just graduated with an engineering degree and you’re going to run the store?”

She had been selling robotics and Kevin had been a credit manager, but they left their jobs and moved to the Island in 1997, newly married. The rash decision turned out to be one of their best, Kevin said. During the offseason he ran a trash pick-up company (coincidently started by Doug and David Seward in the 1970s) and worked as a caretaker. But as June approached, the Olivers would rent out their Chilmark home on Tea Lane, move into the market’s upstairs apartment and embrace another Menemsha summer.

It started every morning with familiar faces.

“The morning has a very loyal newspaper and breakfast crowd,” Kevin said. There was a customer lull while deliveries came in, before business swelled up again as the beach crowd rolled through for snacks and souvenirs. Business peaked twice more with a before-dinner crowd and then a sunset crowd (Liz’s favorite).

Over the years, not much has changed at the Menemsha Market. The Olivers like to focus on the food side of the business and the market continues to provide fresh produce, bread, meats, cheeses and specialty products. Times do change, however.

“The penny candies that aren’t a penny any more,” Liz said.

“Ten years into it, we went up to two cents on the Tootsie Rolls,” Kevin agreed.

“This is high finance,” Mr. Seward observed.

This year the two oldest Oliver children, Solon (14) and Barrett (12) will help run the store while 10-year-old Delilah will pick up small tasks like shelf dusting and organizing papers. Seven-year-old Hollis will run the lemonade stand in front of the Market.

“Our biggest competition,” Liz said.

The Olivers came back to the store primarily for the kids, wanting their children to experience Menemsha summers like their grandfather did. The chance came when Debbie Packer, Ralph and Dorothy Packer’s daughter, decided she didn’t want to run the market this season.

“Liz heard from Doug,” Kevin said.

“Who works for Ralph,” Liz added.

“It’s a Vineyard thing,” Mr. Seward finished.

Though the Packers received a generous offer from Winds Up to lease the building, they decided to keep it a market by renting it to the Olivers.

Menemsha will once again be a Seward hub with the Olivers at the market and Mr. Seward running Jane Slater’s old antique shop around the corner.

“If [the kids] are not going to be here or in the boat, they’re going to be breaking things in the antique shop around the corner,” Kevin said.

Mr. Seward looks forward to the grandkids reliving some of his own experiences from childhood. Together with Kevin’s dad, Buddy Oliver, he bought Solon and Barrett an inflatable Zodiac boat, noting, “you got to have a boat.”

But more than anything, he looks forward to having the family gathered together in Menemsha for another summer and to see his kin in the market.

“My mother’s passed away and my father’s gone, and it just feels so good to have Sewards back in the store,” he said. “The Sewards are back.”

The Menemsha Market opens on Memorial Day weekend. Hours during the peak season are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.