Kudos to George Smith and Kevin Mattson for their Jan. 22 articles praising Maine’s historic downtowns.

It reminded me of another new and little-mentioned threat to our downtowns: the profusion of “dollar” stores popping up in commercial strips and rural fields throughout central Maine.

These mini-big-boxes are ugly, cheaply built, windowless structures that take advantage of inexpensive land and lax rural land-use regulations. Their existence threatens long-standing, family-owned country stores and downtown businesses everywhere.

The new “dollar” store in Litchfield was built in a strawberry field across from our country store. It is a bland, cinder-block, flat-roofed monstrosity filled with “made in China” merchandise. The corporate developers ignored residents pleas to make it attractive and fit with our rural character. They announced they had plans for 700 more such “convenience” stores!

For real convenience and a pleasurable experience, I head to downtown Gardiner. There, one can go to the bank and post office, take out a few library books, stop for coffee or a sandwich, purchase wholesome food and buy reasonably priced goods at Reny’s. This is one-stop shopping at its best. Best of all, downtown purchases keep our dollars in Maine.

Brian Kent


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