Store's loss is elephants' gain as business goes up for sale
Hope — After owning Hope General Store for almost nine years, Andrew Stewart has put the store on the market for $395,000.
“It's been great, and I've loved it,” Stewart said of his time as the store's proprietor.
However, he has recently been named director of Hope Elephants, and said he has found the job requires all his time. As director, Stewart wears many hats, including fundraising, daily operations, conservation outreach, coordinating education programs and more.
With a background in animal biology and conservation, Stewart said, the Hope Elephants job is an opportunity to do what he is trained for, and enjoys most.
The decision to sell the store was not made on the spur of the moment he said, but after coming to the conclusion that the community and the store would be best served by someone who could devote full-time hours to the business.
With plenty to look forward to at Hope Elephants, he still has some regrets about the decision to sell.
“It's obviously bittersweet.”
Stewart, who bought the store in 2005, said it has grown each of the years he has owned it, and is profitable. He said he feels the business is at a good place for someone else to take it over and he would like to see someone with new ideas come in.
In the years he has been running Hope General, Stewart has seen an increase in business activity in Hope Corner. He said he feels the store has contributed to that growth, and has, in turn, been helped by it. He hopes to see the trend continue.
He said he likes the fact that “there are people who live in Hope, get up and go to work in Hope,” and the town is not just “a commuter village” for communities like Camden and Rockland.
Stewart has ideas about ways to grow the store and increase its revenues that he would be happy to share with a new owner. While he would prefer to sell the business outright, he said he would “entertain suggestions and offers and thoughts about the process” in the interest of getting someone who is enthusiastic about running the store on board.
Since the business went on the market Saturday, Nov. 9, three or four people have expressed interest in the store, Stewart said.
Camden Real Estate is marketing the business, which has a three-bedroom apartment with office space on the second floor. It is on two tenths of an acre.
Sarah E. Reynolds is copy editor for the Courier Gazette and Camden Herald.
Sarah E. Reynolds has been a reporter and writer for more than 20 years, winning awards from the Maine Press Association and other professional organizations. She loves to read, ride her ATV and play word games.