AUGUSTA — The owners of a local seafood market that has operated on North Belfast Avenue for 40 years plan to sell the store by the end of the year.
Bob Benedict, 61, said he and his brother Jeff Benedict, 56, are calling it quits to allow Bob to retire after working for more than 30 years at Augusta Seafood.
“It’s not going to be easy,” Bob Benedict said Monday while standing behind the seafood counter at the store. “It’s not going to be easy when it’s been such a long time of your life.”
The brothers took over the store from their parents, Bill and Florence Benedict, who bought the business in the mid-1970s. Located near the corner of North Belfast Avenue and Bangor Street, the store sells fresh seafood and offers overnight shipping of its products, including live lobster, to anywhere in the country.
“A decent product at a good price,” Bob Benedict called it.
Jeff Benedict said he plans to keep working somewhere else for another fours years or so, but Bob Benedict said he wants to retire to give himself more free time to spend with his family and to do more fishing and hunting and other leisure activities.
“It would be nice to get up in the morning and say, â€˜What am I going to do today?'” he said.
The brothers work 72 to 75 hours a week during the winter, and their workload increases to 90 hours a week during the summer, Bob Benedict said. Holidays are always busy for the store, especially the Fourth of July, when it usually sells around 1,000 lobsters, he said.
Bob Benedict said the business has also struggled recently. It’s been increasingly difficult to make enough money in the summer to cover the slow winter months, he said.
He said the business suffered during recent recession, as well as after the Cushnoc Crossing bridge opened in 2004, connects Interstate 95 to Route 3, diverting the travelers who used to have to pass by the store when driving to the coast.
“The economy stinks. We’re struggling like every business in America,” he said.
They’re listing the building and the business with Sprague & Curtis Real Estate for $139,900, according to the agency’s website.
Bob Benedict said he would like to sell it to someone who wants to continue operating the seafood store, but he would welcome any other business looking to buy the two-story building, which includes a two-bedroom apartment.
“It’s been a good living, but it’s getting harder,” he said.