READFIELD — Sherri Jewell opened her new store, Jewell’s Market, earlier this month looking forward to summer and anxious to put her new entrepreneurship skills to work.

Jewell’s Market, with a large sign featuring her original logo of a girl wearing a pizza skirt, is located in the former Maranacook Market on Route 17 at the railroad crossing.

“It’s been two hard months of work,” said Jewell, who pictures a few picnic tables outside and already has large planters and small helium balloons adorning an island that formerly had fuel pumps. She doesn’t anticipate the latter returning.

Jewell, 49, formerly ran a novelty retail business in Livermore Falls, where she lives, and went back to school after working a regular job she found “quite unfulfilling.”

Her husband, Fred, 53, has supported her through all the changes and contributed to the work on the new market even though he’s not on the payroll. Last week, Fred Jewell was behind the counter with his wife, helping to sweep the floor and then moving on to check the coolers in the building they’re leasing.

“He’s my maintenance professional and jack-of-all-trades, and security,” Sherri Jewell said.

There were few groceries on the series of new wooden shelves — Sherri Jewell said she’s anticipating the arrival of a large order of items including household staples and even some fishing gear — but the coolers were filled. Pizza boxes were stacked up in the back room not far from the large pizza ovens; and customers were arriving, albeit one at a time.

Joanie Gavett, of Mount Vernon, was carrying a freshly made tuna sandwich for herself on Wednesday. A day or two earlier, her husband already had been to the store for two ham Italian sandwiches and ate both, Gavett said with a laugh.

She is grateful to see the store reopen since it is so close to her home. “We missed it,” she said.

Others apparently felt the same way, buying all but one gallon of milk within the first few days. Milk and beer have proven most popular so far, the Jewells said.

“I have had such a great reception from the community,” Sherri Jewell said. She was down to her last half box of Tootsie Roll pops, which she had offered free to children during the grand opening days.

Jewell held a job fair before opening and attracted 30 applicants.

“I found all my employees and a manager,” she said. However, she noted, “I hired way too many at first.”

Jewell said owning the market is a dream come true.

“Five years ago we decided to do this,” she said, and at her husband’s urging, she returned to school to learn the skills.

She displays all store’s permits behind the front counter and said she went in person to gather most of them.

Jewell views the train crossing that runs along one side of the property as somewhat of a bonus. “The old owner said they’d call in an order and stop the train and pick it up,” she said. There’s no doubt when the train is passing. “It shakes the whole building,” she said.

Jewell attended Spruce Mount Adult Education Center first and then Central Maine Community College in Auburn to learn the skills. She graduated from the college in May with an associate degree in business administration and management.

“I wanted to go back to school to become an entrepreneur and do what I used to do and own my own business,” she said.

She credited one of her college instructors, Stephen Doak, with helping her navigate through the courses she needed for her degree.

“He was a mentor to me,” she said. “I really fit in even though I was a transitional student.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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