WATERVILLE — A couple with six children longing to have a family-owned business in Maine has bought Uncle Dean’s Good Groceries on Grove Street in the city’s South End.

Jim and Katie Hoving, of Wildwood, Missouri, bought the store, which specializes in natural and organic food, two weeks ago. They plan to move their children and their farm animals to the Waterville area as soon as they sell their Missouri farm and find a suitable site here.

The store has been owned by Dean and Kathy Bureau since 1981 and has been at its current site since 2002.

“We’re excited to take over the business that Dean and Kathy Bureau have built,” Jim Hoving said Thursday. “Our objective is to steward it well — business as usual, for the most part, at the outset. We’re going to keep things as is. That’s our plan. We certainly have ideas, and we’ll hopefully make some fun changes in the future.”

A longtime civil engineer, Jim Hoving has been working at the store and learning the business while his wife is keeping the home fires burning in Missouri until their home there is sold. It’s a challenge, but one Katie Hoving knows will turn out well.

“We know it’ll all come together,” she said Thursday by telephone from their home in a suburb of St. Louis. One of the reasons they wanted to live in Maine is that she has relatives here. They have visited Maine many times and love it.

The Bureaus founded the business 35 years ago in the Winslow mini-mall and stayed there a year before moving to JFK Plaza off Kennedy Memorial Drive, where the store remained 22 years. In 2002, the couple moved it to Grove Street across the street from Maine State Credit Union.

The store carries natural and organic fruit and vegetables, baked foods, canned and bottled goods, jewelry, gifts and locally raised farm beef among other items.

Dean Bureau said it was time to sell the business, and he and his wife were selective when it came to choosing a buyer to ensure it would continue with the same quality of goods and service. They rejected a couple of other prospective buyers because they did not think they were the right fit.

Bureau said the Hovings are “a great family from Missouri, and I think they’re going to do well for the community and by the employees.”

The store, which has 22 full- and part-time employees, has been busy. Bureau said the parking lot is always full.

“We’ve been a real service to the community, I think, because there are cooperatives that come and go and they get volunteer help and they charge more than what we charge,” he said. “We’ve had, over the years, excellent customers and employees. We’re a real gem in the community that a lot of people don’t know about.”

Bureau is sticking around for about 90 days to help with the transition to new ownership.

Jim Hoving, who is originally from Chicago, said the climate in central Maine reminds him of the climate in that city. He said he and his family look forward to meeting and getting to know people in the Waterville area and continuing the good work the Bureaus started at the store.

“It’s a cool business to be in,” he said Thursday. “We always try to eat healthfully and do natural food as much as possible. This has always been an idea of ours, to have a family business, and here we are.”

Katie Hoving said the family plans to move their alpaca, five sheep, one horse, two mini-donkeys, 23 chickens, a rabbit, cats and dogs to the area once they find the right farm here.

The couple’s six children, including two boys adopted from Ethiopia, range in age from 13 to 19.

“We’re just super-excited. We truly are,” she said. “We have been kind of hoping to get to Maine for a long time, and this opportunity presented itself, and we thought it was a great opportunity for our family. Everything kind of came together and fit. It fit our lifestyle. It’s a perfect fit.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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