The Hope General Store, an anchor in its small midcoast Maine town, has been put up for sale.
Michael Forcillo of Rockport, who co-owns the business with his wife Heather, announced the sale on the store’s Facebook page.
The Forcillos are asking $365,000 for store itself and the three-bedroom apartment on the second floor. The goal is to sell it to a buyer who intends to continue operating it as a general store, Forcillo said Tuesday afternoon.
They want to choose a buyer who “could do the best job for the community,” he said. “Hopefully we can find someone that not only intends to [keep it open] but who we think is capable.”
There’s a sort of romance, nostalgia and “old, small-town magic” to the idea of owning a small general store in a rural Maine town, he said, “because the history goes way, way back.”
It was first opened as a general store in 1832. Over the years it has served other purposes, including as a Grange hall, a trading post, an antique store and a post office.
Hope, a town of fewer than 2,000 residents tucked in the hills behind Camden State Park, is 7 miles from the coast. The general store, at 449 Camden Road, is at the town’s central four-way intersection.
Andrew Stewart revived the General Store in the early 2000s before he sold it to the Forcillos in 2014.
Today the store offers sandwiches, Rock City Coffee and pastries by Rockland-based Atlantic Bakery Co. for breakfast. For lunch, there’s a full deli, salads and pizza made in house. Aside from basic general store necessities and odds and ends, the store offers more than 130 types of beer.
Running the business has been a family affair for the Forcillos, who have partially raised their three children in the store, employing them in the summer and teaching them how to work in a variety of roles, which include making pizzas and sandwiches.
“The whole world has changed so much, but these small towns and their general stores are now kind of legendary almost. It’s something people can connect with,” he said. “They like the old-fashioned nature of the town being anchored by this little business that does everything.”
The have decided to sell the store because, while pursuing other work projects on the side, “we don’t feel like we’re able to put as much time into it day in and day out as we did before,” he said.
Since buying the business in 2014, the Forcillos have upgraded the refrigeration systems, added air conditioning, new septic, insulation and have replaced the appliances. They also installed a generator to keep the store up and running during the winter, even when the power goes out.
General stores are a “character to these kinds of places, and they are inextricable from each other,” Forcillo said. “Nothing happens in [this] town that does not go through the prism of being discussed at the store.”