WATERVILLE — Jim Egerton remembers walking into the former Salvation Army office at 225 Main St. with his real estate broker several months ago and seeing a diamond in the rough.

“It was horribly musty and moldy and the Realtor said, ‘Oh, God, you don’t want this.’ I walked behind her and said, ‘But this is it. I’m home.'”

In February, Egerton bought the prominent building, which had been vacant two years since the Salvation Army moved out and merged with the Augusta branch.

“It was in a horrible state, but I have always loved this building,” Egerton said. “I’d walk or drive by and say, ‘It’s such a beautiful building, and the location is amazing.'”

He cleaned, painted, scrubbed and landscaped. He paved the parking lot, had the roof replaced, and had new electrical and plumbing installed.

On Tuesday he opened his new shop, Father Jimmy’s, on the first floor of the 2 1/2-story building, in the Salvation Army’s former chapel space. He also renovated an apartment he leases out on the second floor.

The shop, which features a trio of large white pillars on the front porch, carries jewelry, incense, gems, minerals, oils, blown glass, Mexican blankets and other items.

“We have pipes, we have wall hangings and tapestries, boxes, and I blow glass,” Egerton said. “There’s a lot of glass sculpture and glass things. It’s things that make you feel good. It’s good energy. I hand-pick everything – every ring, every bauble. I don’t just say, ‘Send me a dozen of something.'”

Egerton chuckles about the response he has been getting about the name of his business and the “Father Jimmy’s” sign outside the shop. All this past week, locals on Facebook have been speculating about the building and what’s inside. Since the shop is in a former chapel space, some people seeing his sign outside think it is some kind of religious organization, he said.

“I had someone ask if they could confess the other day,” he said. “Someone on Facebook said that it is some kind of cult or some kind of weird church. ‘Sketchy’ was mentioned.”

The sign bears his photo – a copy of a selfie, he said – and the words “Father Jimmy’s” in red lettering.

“People always call me ‘Uncle Jim,’ or ‘Chief’ or ‘Boss,'” he said, adding that he finally told one of his friends to call him something else.

The friend chose “Father Jimmy,” so Egerton decided to use that as the name of his new shop.

Egerton said the store could be described as a spiritual place in that he wants people to feel relaxed when they enter. “You can take a piece of what’s here to try and create your own relaxing space,” he said.

Egerton, 50, of Waterville, is the former store manager for Sign of the Sun, a similar shop on Silver Street, and he knows his stuff. He worked 19 years at Sign of the Sun and was a buyer for the store. An artist himself, he studied glass blowing in California and creates pieces for the store at his home studio in Waterville.

From Oct. 5 through 12, glass blower Daniel Shelton, of Oregon, will demonstrate his craft outside the shop, Egerton said.

“I travel and I buy things when I travel, so I do have some things I picked up in Mexico, lava beads in Iceland I’ll be making into jewelry. My daughter, Rae, 23, makes some of the jewelry.”

Edgerton’s son, Adam, 20, works with him in the shop, which is painted a rich olive, with black ceiling tiles, all new windows and stained glass on either side of the front door.

The scent of incense greets patrons as they enter the air-conditioned shop, where instrumental folk music emanates from a sound system.

“I wanted something without lyrics that you don’t think about; you just feel it,” Egerton said of the music. “I want people to feel like they’re getting a hug when they come in, that they’re being enveloped.”

On Thursday, Becky Snowden, 51, of Canaan, walked into the shop and greeted Egerton, whom she has known many years from shopping at Sign of the Sun.

“It’s awesome,” she said of space. “I’m happy for him.”

Snowden said she plans to frequent the shop, where she looks forward to buying gifts for Christmas and other occasions.

“When I’m shopping for Christmas, I might buy jewelry, incense, lanterns. I come in and get my perfume oils.”

Egerton’s 2-year-old gray-and-white Shih Tzu, Lolo, checks out patrons as he and his son work behind the glass counters.

The shop is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday — for a reason.

“I wanted people to be able to get here after work,” he said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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