Anderson family putting iconic store on the block

STOCKHOLM, Maine — Anderson’s Store has seen the introduction of the Ford Model T, two world wars, and 20 U.S. Presidents in its lifetime. Located on Main Street in Stockholm, the shop draws customers from miles away with fresh cuts of meat, homemade baked goods and traditional Swedish offerings.

“It’s in our genes,” said Gale Anderson, who has been involved with the store since the early 1970s.

Gale now co-owns the store with his cousin Suzy Anderson, who said their fathers are brothers. He said there are no records of the store’s exact opening date.

“Records mention that it was up and running between 1904 and 1906,” Suzy said, “so, not knowing the exact opening date, they held a 50th anniversary in 1956.”

That year, the Anderson cousins were young children. Suzy recalls bringing townsfolk samples of bread along with a notice about special sales for the 50th anniversary.

But now, after decades of managing the market, the Andersons have decided to “put it on the market.”

“We’re getting older, and it’s time to retire,” both Andersons said.

Wayne Violette, left, George Derrah, center, and Chris Currier, right, enjoy coffee and conversation at Anderson’s Store, which serves as an informal meeting spot for Stockholm residents. Violette calls the store the “Stockholm Mall,” Derrah says it’s a “community hub,” and Currier calls it the “office:” a place to catch up on what’s going on in town. (Christopher Bouchard)

While Stockholm has a population of less than 250, Gale said the store’s close proximity to a commonly traveled ATV trail brings in a “lot of sledders and four-wheelers.”

He said the store has “developed a niche with the meats and bakery” to attract shoppers, and Suzy added customers from outside Stockholm have called in orders of several chicken pot pies, one of the store’s many famous offerings.

According to Suzy, people in town have reacted to news of the store’s sale by saying, “You can’t do that,” or that the “town will die” without its century-old central fixture.

The Andersons said they plan on the store remaining open. They are just handing it over once they find a buyer.

While Suzy said she’d like to see the new owners continue operating the building as a store, both she and Gale said it would be up to the new owner to decide which path to take.

“For prospective owners, I think it would be important to continue offering gas,” Suzy said, “and to keep the meat as well.”

Gale said he could see it being used as a place for sledders in the winter, especially when considering the close proximity to the trails.

“There is a lot of space on the second floor,” Suzy said. “It was once a yoga studio and, when we were kids, there were two apartments up there. A lot of people have lived over the store, so future owners could live up there or rent it out to further their income.”

Without missing a beat, Suzy said she’d miss “the people” the most after selling Anderson’s Store. Gale said he couldn’t put his thumb on what he’d miss the most, adding that he’s made “so many memories over so many years.

Despite the town’s small population, the store acts as a community hub, with residents often sitting at the tables near the entrance, drink coffee, and chat on a daily basis.

Wayne Violette, a member of the store’s morning crowd of visitors, said it’s a “good gathering place,” and a “good place to buy meat.”

“It’s the only store in town, so I call it the ‘Stockholm Mall,” Violette said, adding that he stops by at least three or four times a week to catch up with friends. “We’d be lost without it.”

Violette said it would be “bad news for the town” if the store closed.

“There’s not much left in Stockholm,” said Violette. “It’s a landmark, really.”

Chris Currier, who sat across from Violette on Monday morning, refers to Anderson’s store as “the office.”

“It’s the same now as it was then,” Currier said. “There’s an early crowd and a late crowd, and whenever I’m heading out to see what’s going on in town I’ll say ‘I’m going down to the office.’”

Currier spoke highly of the store’s prices and their meat, recommending the Sirloin Strips as one of the best cuts.

“You can’t beat Gale’s meat,” Violette added, referencing a slogan associated with the store.

George Derrah of Limestone sat with Viollette and Currier, and referred to the store as a “community hub.”

“They have the best cuts of meat you’re gonna get,” Derrah said. “People come from Fort Fairfield and Caribou, or further out, just to buy their meat.”

Derrah said Anderson’s store is the “center of everything” in Stockholm.

“They have everything here that you need,” Derrah said. “The service is good, and they’re all nice people.”

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