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February 10, 2022

Stonewall Kitchen to close store in Portland's Old Port, but may reopen in new digs

stonewall kitchen File Photo / William Hall Stonewall Kitchen will soon close its Portland company store, shown here.

Stonewall Kitchen, the specialty food retailer that recently closed a cooking school on its York flagship campus, will close a company store in Portland’s Old Port.

The store at 182 Middle St will shut permanently by the end of the month, spokeswoman Janine Somers told Mainebiz on Thursday.

The building, at the corner of Middle and Exchange streets, will be going through a major renovation, which will cut down on the store's space, she said. "All of that made it too difficult to continue operating in this location."

The company is trying to find other positions for the Portland employees, according to Somers. It's also trying to find new space in the city.

"We love having a store in Portland," she added. "We’ve been here for 24 years, and we are hoping to find a new storefront soon. We encourage anyone to let us know if you hear of a great space. We really want to stay in the Old Port!"

The Middle Street store is in what’s long been prime retailing territory — in the heart of the Old Port District and a few doors from a Starbucks coffee shop.

The closure comes as Stonewall changes up its business recipe.

In December, the company shuttered its 13-year-old York cooking school in order to pursue a new line of business in home goods. The retailer said it plans to open its first Stonewall Home store at the campus this spring.

Owned by Boston-based Audax Private Equity, which bought a majority stake in 2019, Stonewall has also made a string of acquisitions in recent years.

In 2021 alone, they included three: Katonah, N.Y.-based Michel Design Works, which sells bath and body products and home decor; Chicago-based Urban Accents, which markets spice mixes and seasoning; and Vermont Coffee Co., in Middlebury, Vt. Stonewall Kitchen also owns Wells-based Village Candle, purchased in 2020.

In addition to the Portland branch, Stonewall has 10 other retail locations; company stores in York and Camden, the Village Candle outlet in Kittery, and stores across Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The company employs nearly 400 people in Maine.

Stonewall Kitchen was founded in 1991 by partners Jonathan King and Jim Stott, who began by selling jams and jellies at local farmers’ markets and later expanded into sauces, condiments, crackers and baking mixes.

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