The inside of Boynton’s Market, on Wednesday on Water Street in Hallowell. Owners Don and Ruth LaChance have put their business up for sale. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

HALLOWELL — A cornerstone of Hallowell’s downtown — Boynton’s Market — is for sale.

Ruth and Don LaChance, who have operated the store since February 2012, have listed it for sale for $69,900. The sale price includes the store’s equipment, but inventory would be an additional cost, according to a Craigslist listing. The building, which is owned by Steve Langsdorf, is not part of the sale.

Realtor Danny Sullivan said there is one year remaining on the 10-year lease the LaChances signed with Langsdorf for the building.

A new tenant would be able to take over the remaining term of the lease, Langsdorf said, but he would like to renegotiate a new pact. He said he hoped the location would continue to be a market, perhaps with “expanded offerings.”

Ruth LaChance said the decision to sell the store is related to their wish to have more free time, as she recently had knee surgery. In addition, her husband and co-owner Don recently turned 66, and is ready to retire.

“We’re on all the time,” she said, stating that it was a “seven-day-a-week” job for the couple.

Ruth LaChance said the store was showing solid revenue numbers during the coronavirus pandemic, a good sign after the store struggled to cope during the reconstruction of Water Street. During the busy summer months, she said, more than 200 people could come into the store in one day.

“We know that (Boynton’s) is the pulse of Hallowell,” she said. “You could write a book of the stories from customers.”

The store is important to the community as a refuge from larger supermarkets in a pinch, Ruth LaChance said, or if someone doesn’t want to drive to Gardiner or Augusta for a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread.

“I lived here once when it was closed (for a period); it was truly missed,” she said. “People take it for granted. It’s definitely Smalltown, U.S.A.”

Co-owner Don LaChance sits at an outdoor table in front of Boynton’s Market Wednesday on Water Street in downtown Hallowell. Don and his wife, Ruth LaChance, have put the business up for sale. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Don LaChance said there have already been a few inquiries about the business already.

Boynton’s Market’s long history in Hallowell began in 1936, but the original location was one door south of the current location until 2011, when the store was caught in a whirlwind of events.

The original Boynton’s closed in 2011 for renovations, but never reopened. Then-owner Karen Buck, who died later that year, worked at the store from 1984 to 2006, before she bought the business from building owner Steven Baker of Pittston.

In June 2011, Thomas Hibbert of Randolph announced that he would open the Hallowell General Store by summer’s end in the old Boynton’s Market. Hibbert, who falsely identified himself as “Tom Hubbard,” gave up plans for the store after reports about his troubled past, which included pleading conditionally guilty in Lincoln County Superior Court to stealing $74,000 of his elderly mother’s money, a bankruptcy and a lawsuit filed in June in Cumberland County Superior Court alleging he stole $80,000 from a mentally ill woman.

In December 2011, the Kennebec Journal reported that the LaChances signed a lease for the current location of the current Boynton’s Market. The former location is now the headquarters for Hallowell Clay Works.

When his family moved to the city in 1941, City Historian Sam Webber said there were no large supermarkets in the area to get groceries, making Boynton’s a necessary staple the community.

“That’s where we got our groceries,” he said. “It was a good place because they had a meat cutter.”

Around 2 p.m. Wednesday, Patti Burnett, owner of the nearby Dom’s Barber Shop, ordered a sandwich and coffee at Boynton’s. The longtime Hallowell resident said the LaChances have done well in maintaining the charm of the market, even through location and ownership changes.

“It’s a piece of Hallowell,” she said. “I remember as a little kid getting … groceries for my mother.”

Lynn Irish, a former City Councilor and owner of Whipper Snappers Fine Fabrics, said she sees Hallowell residents walking back and forth by her store to go to Boynton’s.

“It’s a big part of Hallowell, downtown especially,” she said, adding that Cotton Mill Apartments residents also frequent the store. “We need a little store in Hallowell.”

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