It’s been a sleepy year at 121 Main St. in Winthrop.

For almost 21 years, the independent book store Apple Valley Books was located there, close to many downtown amenities and anchoring the small business district with the distinctive blue-and-gold color scheme on its facade. But co-owners Rita Moran and Eric Robbins closed Apple Valley Books a year ago.

Now, a Winthrop newcomer is preparing to open his own business in the empty storefront, one for which he believes there is a ready market.

“I moved here last September and liked the community very much, but one of the things that was missing was ice cream,” recalled David Brown, who last lived in Topsham. “I have to admit, I’m an ice cream guy, so I was a little disappointed.”

Eventually, though, Brown’s disappointment metamorphosed into the idea for a new downtown enterprise.

After speaking with Moran, who still owns the building, and deciding he had the finances to make it work, Brown is getting ready to open an ice cream and coffee shop later this month. Called Coffee & Cones, the store will carry two Maine offerings: Gifford’s Ice Cream of Skowhegan and Wicked Joe Coffee of Topsham.

For the last month, Brown said he has been painting the space, applying for permits, cleaning carpets, arranging seating and working with vendors to get his shop ready. Brown said the new business will have room for about 24 customers at a time and will also come equipped with free wireless Internet. To start off, he plans to open the business seven days a week from noon to 9 p.m. every day.

Brown has never run a coffee or ice cream shop, and he will keep things simple to start off, he said. The menu will initially consist of coffee and cups and cones of ice cream. But he eventually wants to add toppings, muffins and other offerings to the mix. After the soft opening later this month, he plans to have a grand opening July 2 with various specials and promotions of other downtown businesses.

Brown currently plans to remain open after the summer, but said he may adjust the hours of operation in the fall. He is also hoping to add a part-time employee later this summer.

Though his business model will be bare bones, Brown has high hopes that Coffee & Cones can become a community gathering spot and an extra incentive for people to come browse the various other downtown businesses. Several consignment shops have opened or re-located in downtown Winthrop in the last few years, he said, and this would give shoppers more of an excuse to “make a day” of it.

He also hopes to hold various community gatherings and events in the shop.

“I’m a guy who likes community,” he said. “I’ve done economic development before. I’ve run community centers before. What I wanted down here was a place where people could come, have coffee, sit and use the Internet, have meetings and help build that community. The more you have down here as something to do, the more people are going to come here.”

And for those who like to savor their coffee or ice cream, Brown added, “I won’t hover. I love it when people come and sit for a few hours.”

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

 


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