SMITHFIELD — The cobwebs on the front door of the Smithfield Village Store are not real. They’re just Halloween decorations, something that may come as a surprise to residents who are used to driving by and seeing the store closed.

The owner of the small general store — which reopened in April after being closed for about three years — is hoping to attract more customers and fill a niche that has been missing since previous owners sold the store, one of just two in town.

“The store had been shut down for a long time, and I thought, ‘Well I’ll see what I can do about it,'” said Sandy Dodge, 52. “So I’m just making a go of it.”

Dodge, of Norridgewock, said she had driven by the closed store a few times before talking with her husband, Gary Dodge Sr., about taking it over.

“I always wanted to have a store,” said Sandy Dodge, who was a homemaker before she became a store owner. “I like working with people and socializing. I like doing stuff that makes other people happy, and a store is perfect for that.”

She recruited her brother, Chris Easler, who also lives in Norridgewock and is a volunteer firefighter in Smithfield, to help, as well as other family members, including her sister, Eleanor Kalloch, and two daughters, Melissa Scott and Brittany Bishop.

“It was something I wanted to do, too, but I paused at first because I had a lot of my own stuff going on,” said Easler, 47. “I think it’s going pretty well now.”

On Friday the family was busy working, with Kalloch cutting up green peppers for sandwiches and serving lunch to customers, and Easler and Dodge chatting with guests.

The store offers breakfast all day, a variety of grocery and household items and cold drinks.

The shelves are still a little bare, but the family said that cleaning up the store and getting everything in order has been a long process since the previous owner left it in a state of disrepair.

“I think a lot of people are afraid to come in here, but we’ve been trying to clean it up,” Dodge said.

The family also hopes to add movie rentals, a redemption center and early morning hunters’ breakfasts on Saturdays during hunting season.

On Friday, Wes Furbush was taking a break from his route as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service and eating a lunch of two chili cheese dogs and french fries at the store counter.

Furbush, 55, estimates he has been a customer at the store for about 35 years.

He said the store was “not the same” since Kenny and Carol Salley, the store’s longtime owners, sold it about four years ago. It has since changed hands before being closed for a long period of time and then being taken over by Dodge.

“My kids were brought up right here in this store,” Furbush said. “They would sit right down at that corner,” he added, motioning to the far end of the counter in the center of the store.

When asked what he liked best about the new store, Furbush said he liked the cheeseburgers.

“Don’t you mean to say that the workers are the best thing?” Kalloch said from behind the counter.

“And the workers,” he added.

Dodge and Easler said that although they don’t live in Smithfield, they felt compelled to take on the job of re-opening the store because it benefits neighboring communities.

“We saw it as a challenge to kind of bring the store back in a small area,” Dodge said. “We want to see if we can get it back to where it was. The stores are so distant in this area that you have to travel really far to get supplies.”

“Smithfield is a nice town and the people are really friendly,” Easler added. “When you take Smithfield, Mercer and Norridgewock together, it’s like one big community.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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