HOULTON, Maine — Maine Potato Growers Inc., which has retail stores in Houlton and Presque Isle offering everything from fertilizer to farm equipment, will soon be closing its doors, company officials announced this week.
Pierre Patenaude, president and chief executive officer of MPG, said in a press release that the closing of its two retail operations in those locations follows the sale of its retail petroleum division last October.
He said in the statement that the shuttering of those locations is part of the company’s mission to focus on the commercial agricultural industry and provide opportunities for growth.
Both locations will shutter for good in July.
The MPG retail hardware/farm store has operated in Presque Isle since 1964 and in Houlton since the 1980s, according to information on the company’s website.
The stores sell farm equipment, tools, animal feed, fertilizer and clothing, among other items.
Mark Jandreau of Presque Isle has shopped at the Parsons Street location ever since he moved to the city to attend college more than a decade ago. He said he was “surprised” to hear that it was closing.
“I guess that I shouldn’t be surprised that any business is closing in this economy,” he said Thursday. “But this is kind of a staple in this area for gardeners and growers.”
Becky Howell of Houlton also said she did not think that MPG would ever close.
“I feel so bad for the people employed there,” she said. “Especially in this economy. It’s hard to find work.”
Patenaude said in his release that the closures are expected to result in overall revenue decreases of 8 percent.
Theresa Fowler, executive director of the Presque Isle Chamber of Commerce, said Thursday that she felt that competition likely played a role in the Presque Isle store’s demise.
“There is significant competition up here because a lot of new businesses have opened up in the city with similar inventory,” she said. “It now looks like MPG is going to concentrate on the agriculture end of their business, which is where the company began.”
Patenaude did not return repeated calls for more information that was not included in the press release.
Fowler said she believes there are five full-time positions in the Presque Isle store. She said that she talked to Patenaude, and that she hoped the company was looking at all kinds of options for fitting displaced workers into other positions within the company.
Correction: An earlier version of this story inaccurately portrayed a statement from Theresa Fowler. While Fowler spoke to the MPG president, she does not know what the company has planned for the workers losing their jobs. She said she hoped MPG would find other jobs for them within the company.