Stockholm will lose its only grocery store before the new year

3 months ago

STOCKHOLM, Maine – Residents of one of Maine’s smallest towns will soon have to travel almost 20 miles for everyday groceries and household items.

On Tuesday, Deb Paiement and Phil Andrews, the owners of Anderson’s Store on Main Street, announced they will be closing the store Dec. 30. In a Facebook post, Paiement and Andrews said they wish to spend more time with family members.

The store’s closure will leave a major void for Stockholm, whose population was 250 as of the 2020 U.S. Census. Elderly residents and young families frequent the store for its variety of groceries, baked goods, fresh-butchered meats and quick snacks, rather than drive nearly 20 miles to Caribou, the closest town with grocery stores. The nearest convenience store, Northstar Variety, is over seven miles away in New Sweden.

Last winter, residents of Stockholm and nearby towns banded together to save Anderson’s after a lack of snowfall greatly reduced the store’s snowmobile traffic. Paiement and Andrews had been struggling with post-pandemic supply chain shortages and increased food, electric and fuel prices, and were uncertain of the store’s future.

For residents like Sandra Hara, 79, the store is a convenient place to buy everyday items like milk, eggs and butter and drop back in if she forgets anything. While Hara has a vehicle, many older residents in town do not, she said, which will make trips to Caribou more difficult, especially in the winter.

“It’s one thing if you work in Caribou and can stop into a store before coming home,” Hara said. “But things won’t be as good for people stuck in town.”

Stockholm has also been seeing an uptick in young famillies since before COVID, making a store like Anderson’s a greater necessity, Hara said.

The store is one of Stockholm’s oldest and most famous buildings, dating back to 1904 when brothers John and Lewis Anderson built and established the business. Anderson’s remained in the family for 114 years thanks to John’s sons Frederick and Fernald, and later, Frederick’s daughter, Suzy Anderson, and Fernald’s son, Gale Anderson.

Suzy and Gale sold the store to Paiement and Andrews in 2018. Neither Suzy nor Gale had children to take over, and other extended family members were not interested, said Hara, who is president of Stockholm Historical Society.

Stockholm native Lois Wardwell Knight, 71, said that Anderson’s has remained an iconic spot for generations.

When she was growing up in the 1950s and ‘60s, Knight, who now lives in North Yarmouth, would wait at Anderson’s with friends on cold winter mornings before the school bus picked them up. Her parents shopped there every Friday after her father, a carpenter, received his weekly paycheck.

“For us it was like having a Hannaford’s because they had 10 to 12 different kinds of cereal and a meat counter,” Knight said. “It has always been the center of town, something that has always been here.”

Andrews said that he and Paiement have seen interest in the store from a potential buyer but nothing has been finalized. If the store doesn’t sell by Dec. 30, they will list the building on the real estate market, Andrews said.

The store currently employs four people, not including Paiement and Andrews.

Residents like Hara are hoping that their community landmark does not remain closed for good.

“Hopefully someone will come along,” Hara said. “I don’t think it’s time to say, ‘Oh, well, it was time [for the store to close].’ Some things should continue on in some form or another.”