HOULTON, Maine — While the effects of the economic downturn still are being felt throughout the region, shoppers in Houlton and the surrounding communities were celebrating the opening of a new business.
The new Tractor Supply Co. store on North Road opened on Saturday, and first-time and returning customers were flocking to the store Monday.
Tractor Supply Co. is the largest retail farm and ranch supply store chain in the United States and has been operating in Maine since 2007. The only other Aroostook County location is in Presque Isle.
The new 19,097-square-foot facility includes a sales floor and support service space. A fenced exterior space offers a display area for items such as fencing, sprayers and livestock equipment. The store currently employs 12 full- and part-time team members and is managed by Roy Sanders.
Mary Murphy of Houlton was headed into the store Monday afternoon. She said she and other family members were inside the store on opening day, but they didn’t have much time to look around.
“I saw some nice items that I’d like to have, so I am going to go in and get them,” she said. “I really like it. It is in a nice spot for a retail business and it is nice to see North Street becoming really crowded with businesses.”
Olympia Sports also opened a new store up the road in the spring.
“I think that the tide has kind of turned, where this area is the business center of the community, and not so much Market Square,” Murphy said.
Local officials announced plans that the new Tractor Supply store would be coming to Houlton in April and building began almost immediately.
Tractor Supply Co. is the leading retail farm and ranch store brand in America, according to its website. Founded in 1938 as a mail-order tractor parts business, the company offers daily farm and ranch maintenance supplies to a targeted customer base. It is based in Brentwood, Tenn., and caters to a niche market of farmers, horse owners, ranchers, part-time and hobby farmers and suburban and rural homeowners as well as contractors and tradespeople.
Jim Bigham of Sherman was headed into the store Monday to see if he could find some horse equipment for his granddaughter.
“She is 14-years-old and she rides horses, and she just got her first one,” he said Monday. “I’ve been to the Presque Isle store to buy for her before, so I know this place will have what I am looking for. I think that the farmers are going to find it to be a good resource, too.”
The other Tractor Supply Co. stores in Maine are located in Augusta, Bangor, Brunswick, Lewiston, Oxford, Sanford, Scarborough, Skowhegan and Wilton.