BELGRADE — For the first time in 40 years, Day’s Store will close for the winter. 

With an eye on regrouping after a busy summer, owner Diane Oliver said closing for the winter will allow the opportunity for repairs and a little relaxation.

“We had a great summer,” she said. “Winter is never an extremely profitable time, and this is a way for us to regroup and make sure everything runs smoothly when we open back up.”

It has been more than 40 years since the store closed for the winter, when Oliver’s parents owned the store. During the winter in the 1960s and 1970s they used to shut it down, but once they obtained a license to sell liquor in the ’70s, they stayed open year-round. The store has been family-owned and operated since 1958, when it was opened by Oliver’s grandparents. 

“When you think about it from a business sense, it makes perfect sense,” said Oliver. “My family has been here 62 years. It is a difficult decision, but one that I totally understand.”

Being open 12 hours a day makes it difficult to make repairs, Oliver said. They hope to redo the floors and some painting during the time off, she and her husband, Kerry Oliver, said. 

“We have some floors we want to do, some organizing stuff, cleaning up, tidying up and back end stuff,” said Diane Oliver. “I am making sure that we get things ordered correctly and more smoothly and some logistics stuff.”

Time off for the Olivers has been minimal, though occasionally possible with the help of their daughter and son-in-law, Melissa and Kirt Farbush. But recently, with fewer employees, they are less available to take time off.

“To be truthful, we need to have a little down time and regroup time,” Oliver said, saying they are considering traveling some place warm for a couple weeks.

“They will be missed over the winter months,” said Belgrade resident Rebecca Richey Davis, “but they deserve the time to make the changes and take a much needed rest.”

Customers on Facebook expressed understanding, even congratulations to the family — though a few showed some comical remorse for having to go without their favorite items, like pizza, bagels and hamburgers. 

“The owners and their staff work tirelessly during the busy summer months and do so much for the Belgrade Lakes community outside the walls of the store,” said Belgrade resident Ellen Wells.

While most residents seem to understand the closure, it will mean more travel for groceries. While there are convenience stores in Belgrade and Smithfield, fuller grocery stores are in Augusta, about 25 minutes away, and Waterville, around 36 minutes. Oakland is 25 minutes away and Farmington is a 30-minute trip.

“I will just have to be more mindful grocery shopping or plan ahead,” said Davis.

Living in walking-distance of the store, she said, it is easy to get something there she has forgotten or pick up something new if a dinner isn’t already thawed.

But for Wells, it will not be the convenience of the store she will miss. 

“For me, it will be more about missing this warm, friendly local gathering spot during the winter months,” she said. She lives in the town, and has been a regular customer since 2005. 

Whether winter closure will be an annual thing will be reassessed next year.

“We try to listen to the majority of our customers,” said Oliver. “We will see how everyone takes to it.”

The store will close at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15. It will be open the following week, but not to customers. Vendors will be taking guaranteed sales items. 

“Everything will be fresh and restocked when we open back up,” said Oliver.

Dec. 15 was selected to give the family time to close up the business, attend a Patriots game — a gift from a summer resident — and enjoy the holidays.

The date the store will reopen in April will be announced on the store’s Facebook page. Oliver expects it will be open in time for Easter, which falls on April 12, 2020.


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