AUGUSTA — After 26 years, Steve Goedecke is calling it quits.

The owner of Cosmic Charlie’s and three buildings in downtown Augusta is closing his business at the end of the year.

Goedecke, 48, said his doctors have been pressing him to give up his business for several years, saying it was taking too great a toll on him. With the death of his mother last summer, he has decided now is the time.

“I spent a lot of time taking care of her. Now I have to take care of me,” Goedecke said, standing in his store Wednesday.

From now until the end of the year, the smoke shop’s merchandise — clothing, jewelry, pipes, figurines and gifts — is marked down. The chalkboard out front advertises 20 percent off, but Goedecke said he’ll make deals for bigger discounts on merchandise throughout the month.

“They’ve been great neighbors and have taken part in some of our events,” said Heather Pouliot, president of the Augusta Downtown Alliance and owner of Core Marketing & Design.

The mission of the nonprofit alliance is to develop a thriving downtown community.

“It’s too bad,” she said. “We never want to see a business close.”

If he can find a buyer, Goedecke said he will sell the business he has spent more than two decades building in downtown Augusta. However, he said, it has to be a buyer who sees his vision and can build on it, both literally and figuratively.

Goedecke has invested money and effort in reshaping the joined buildings at 251 Water St. that used to be home to the Nicolson & Ryan jewelry store, a hardware store, a grain elevator and a radio station into his own emporium.

He said he’ll sell the property over time, slowly. He also owns 138 Water St. and 179 Water Street, as well as a mobile home on North Belfast Avenue and a parcel in Gardiner, where he went to high school. His accountant has cautioned him about paying taxes on capital gains, he said.

“Being as sick as I am, I don’t have a lot of energy,” he said. Goedecke has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and celiac disease, and he’s dealing with the lingering effects of a motorcycle crash several years ago.

Goedecke found his path when he was with Job Corps. He was among the people who were hired as a security detail for a Grateful Dead show at the Oxford Speedway. The job lasted a day, he stuck around for the weekend, and then he went on the road with the Dead.

When he decided to get off the road, he started a Dead-themed store on the corner of Bridge and Water Streets in downtown Augusta. The store grew into the space and he expanded to a second store across from the Colonial Theatre. Eventually, he bought the building he now occupies.

Letting go, he said, will be hard, in part because of his health and in part because he’s giving up what he built.

As much as he enjoys his business, money has not been his motivation. If you have more than you need, he said, you should share what you have. And he has, supplying people who have lost everything with clothes if they needed them from what he called the “hippie Red Cross.”

Even so, the practicalities have not escaped him. In the new year, he said, his monthly health insurance premiums are expected to be $800, and his policy has a $10,000 deductible, at a time when he no longer will be in business.

“You’re going into the unknown in a way,” he said. “I have to make enough to live on for a while and get on disability.”

Goedecke wants to leave a legacy in downtown Augusta. One of his ideas is pulling out the gears and mechanics from the grain lift on the top floor of his building and having them used in a retro-futuristic steam punk-style sculpture that could be built on the site of the former Edwards Manufacturing mill and dam, if a museum or other facility were to be developed there at some point.

In the meantime, he’s got five employees who can help him clear out the inventory in the next couple of weeks. So he also has a little time to reflect.

“I was voted the least likely to succeed in high school,” Goedecke said, with a laugh. “And I was like one of the most successful people in my high school.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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