BINGHAM — American flags line the roadside coming into town here. Houses stand with firewood stacked on snowy ground. There’s a large cemetery, a historic church, a school, a health center, an auto parts store, a hair dresser and a couple of banks.

But empty storefronts dot Main Street in the town, population about 900, where many good jobs have left.

Now a new Dollar General store has opened on Main Street, north of Bingham village, and promises as many as 10 new jobs.

It’s a welcome sign for most everyone, said Nancy MacDonald, Bingham’s town clerk and town treasurer.

“I think it’s a good addition to the town, giving people other options rather than having to go all the way to Skowhegan to get certain things,” MacDonald said. “People with the new jobs, several of them live right here in the area, so that’s a good thing.”

The grand opening is set for 8 a.m. Saturday, with free prizes and special deals. The first 100 adult shoppers will receive a $10 Dollar General gift card and the first 200 shoppers will receive a Dollar General goodie bag with complimentary product samples. Customers also can register to win a free year of shopping from Dollar General, a prize valued at $520. A complimentary lunch of hot dogs, chips and drinks also will be provided.

“We’re excited to celebrate the grand opening of our first store in Somerset County in Bingham this Saturday,” Angela Petkovic, in the Dollar General public relations office, said Thursday. “The store should employ approximately six to 10 employees, depending on the individual needs of the store.”

Amy Atwood, the assistant manager at the new store, said they opened for business two weeks ago, and it’s been pretty busy the whole time.

“I was born and raised in Bingham,” Atwood said Thursday during a tour of the new building. “I love having a job close to home. It’s nice to have something here local so I don’t have to travel.”

Dollar General stores sell items such as home cleaning solutions to pantyhose, toys, frozen foods, antifreeze, greeting cards, baby clothing, holiday baking needs, some hardware and home and beauty items.

Gary Hodgkins, of Moose River, was shopping at the Bingham Dollar General store on Thursday with his wife. He said he’s saving money right away — again noting not having to travel the extra 23 miles to Skowhegan, the county seat to the south.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “It saves me at least 60 miles when I have to go get groceries. My wife is shopping here now. She’s filling up the grocery cart.”

Mike Paolini, 48, a man who said he hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, added that he returned to the area to work because he loved that part of Maine. He said he isn’t sure the new store fits in, but he understands why it is important.

“I’m surprised. I’m new to the area, very new, and I’m surprised,” he said at the store Thursday. “One of the reasons I came here is it’s a small town, it’s remote, but I get it that it’s a far ride to get supplies, especially in storms. I know for (other residents), it’s huge. It certainly has jobs. That’s a big deal. I see that as a huge positive. Those are steady jobs. It’s always nice to have local people that you know who work somewhere. It’s one of those added values.”

Over at Thompson’s Restaurant on Main Street, waitress Gretchen Audet, of nearby Moscow, said she likes the idea of having a Dollar General store in Bingham.

“I think it’s going to be good for the town,” she said, serving up a mug of coffee and one of Thompson’s “world famous since 1939” doughnuts. “People don’t have to travel to Skowhegan, Madison, to buy gift ideas. Absolutely. It’s providing jobs. It’s a more economical place to shop. You save a little money, I think, because you don’t have to pay it in gas to travel down.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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