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November 20, 2023

Buyers of general store in 'boatbuilding capital of the world' plan new offerings

building, gas pumps, pavement Courtesy / Swan Agency Real Estate The Brooklin General Store was rebuilt in 2016 in a style designed to evoke the original that dated back to 1866.

The buyers of the Brooklin General Store, at 4 Reach Road in Brooklin, said they’ve dreamed of running a family-owned business since they relocated from New York City.

“As I’ve owned and operated both a restaurant and market previously, we saw the Brooklin General Store as the perfect opportunity,” said Alissa Wagner, who bought the store with Graham Macbeth from Brooklin General Real Estate LLC and BGS LLC for an undisclosed amount. 

The listing price was $950,000.

Dana Moos of Swan Agency Real Estate represented the sellers and Debra Porter of Better Homes & Gardens/Masiello Group represented the buyers in the transaction, which closed last week.

Brooklin is on the Blue Hill peninsula in Hancock County. The town's year-round population of 820 doubles in the summer. A sign on the main road boasts the community is the “Boatbuilding Capital of the World” — a tribute to the local builders of yachts and workboats, as well as the home of marinas, boat designers, sailmakers, mooring services and marine photographers. 

WoodenBoat Publications Inc. and its boatbuilding school are a major presence in town — and you have to pass the Brooklin General Store to get there. 

Heart of the community

The original store dated back to 1866. Located in the heart of the small community, it’s long been a gathering place for fishermen getting coffee and pastries before heading out to sea, employees at nearby boatyards grabbing sandwiches and specials at lunchtime, kids popping in for afterschool snacks, and summertime sailors hiking up the road from the docks to provision their boats.

room with tables and paintings and chairs
Courtesy / Swan Agency Real Estate
For the small community, the store is a gathering place where folks pop in for sandwiches and specials, snacks, and boating provisions.

In 2015 it was bought by an investor group, BGRE LLC, which had a goal to revitalize the store as a center of the community.

But a subsequent inspection revealed it would be more cost-effective to tear down the existing structure, which had no foundation or insulation. The building was demolished in 2016 to make way for a new building within the same footprint. The goal was to achieve a similar general store feel but with modern systems, amenities such as a front porch and flexible spaces.

The new 3,959-square-foot, two-story store opened in 2017 and included features like wheeled shelves and coolers to create flexible spaces for community gatherings. There’s seating indoors for 20 and outdoor picnic tables, hardwood floors, a soft-serve ice cream machine with takeout window, and a commercial kitchen with a hood system, pizza oven, salamander, six-burner gas stove, gas grill, convection oven, large dish washing station and enough equipment to operate a full restaurant. The store also has two gas pumps.  

The property went under contract after just a month on the market, Moos told Mainebiz. It received a number of inquiries, most from out-of-state.

Wagner is a New Jersey native and Macbeth was born in Blue Hill and raised in Ellsworth. Both lived in New York City for 20 years before relocating to Sedgwick.

tilted black and white photo of two people
Courtesy / Brooklin General Store
Alissa Wagner and Graham Macbeth

Wagner worked in hospitality for over 20 years. 

“I am a trained chef and was the co-founder and chef of Dimes, Dimes Deli and Dimes Market in New York City,” she told Mainebiz.

MacBeth has a background in the fine arts. 

“He is a painter and has worked as a manager and director at several top art galleries in New York City, most recently at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise,” she said.

They became aware of the store as a potential opportunity through a friend.

“We live nearby and saw great growth potential in both the shop and kitchen,” Wagner said.

Wagner said they will maintain the bones of the shop as is. 

“We are building on what’s already here,” she said. That includes bulking up the retail inventory, adding fresh produce and offering a full breakfast and lunch menu from the kitchen, along with a rotating selection of grab-and-go options. 

“We have also purchased a beautiful new espresso machine and will offer a complete coffee program under the direction and leadership of Bucklyn Coffee,” she added.

Bucklyn Coffee is a coffee roaster in Brooklin that has a cafe in Blue Hill.

The deal was financed by a silent partner who provided working capital, which the buyers used to secure a U.S. Small Business Administration-backed bank loan.

Wagner called the store “an absolute institution.”

She continued, “It’s so important for the community to be able to stock up and get gas in a store that’s both reasonably priced and close to home. Especially in winter, when roads become hazardous.

“Additionally, there are limited options for breakfast and lunch spots so we’re excited to be able to offer that. It’s also a local meeting place and a home away from home for many community members. We strive to create an environment that is welcoming and approachable for all.”

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