NORRIDGEWOCK — Residents of Norridgewock who need nuts and bolts, power tools or plumbing supplies no longer have to head to Skowhegan or Waterville.

They can now stay in town for their hardware needs, thanks to a new, small hardware store opened earlier this month by Nickerson Yard Maintenance, owned and operated by members of the Nickerson family, who have called the town of about 3,000 home for generations.

Since it opened March 8, the store at the corner of Waterville Road and Bigelow Hill Road has been met with excitement and a sense of nostalgia from Norridgewock residents, said Eileen Nickerson, 60, who manages the store owned by her son, Ryan Nickerson.

Evelyn Nickerson, the 20-month-old daughter of Ryan and Katrina Nickerson, stands Wednesday at the newly opened hardware store in Norridgewock. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

“People have been trickling in, checking us out, and I can’t even count how many people have commented, ‘It’s so great to see a hardware store in town again since Big Al’s Place (closed),’” Eileen Nickerson said, referring to the last hardware store in the town that closed decades ago. “It’s been continual, the conversations.”

Ryan Nickerson, 36, began his landscaping, excavation and construction company in 2017. After he bought the Bigelow Hill Road property — where he also lives — a few years ago, he saw an opportunity to bring a hardware store back to Norridgewock.

“My plan when I bought this property was always to have something like this because we want to stock and carry a lot of the supplies and materials that we need that our business is always going to find,” Ryan Nickerson said. “It’s easier to have it right here, and we figure if we need it, others in the community will need it, too.”


The business is truly a family affair for the Nickersons.

Ryan Nickerson owns the business and heads its excavation and landscaping projects. His mother, Eileen, a retired Madison teacher, runs the store. His father, Steve, a builder, oversees construction projects. And Ryan’s wife, Katrina, 32, manages the office.

Even Ryan Nickerson’s children — ages 14, 10, and 2 — and his sister’s daughter are often around the business, and the older ones help out when they can, he said.

Ryan Nickerson and his father, Steve Nickerson, 60, began building the store last March and finished it during the winter.

Some of the lumber used was harvested directly from the property, Steve Nickerson said.

The building measures about 40 by 100 square feet, with about 1,600 square feet of retail space. In the back, the Nickersons built a garage, which they use to repair equipment and complete other projects. Upstairs, they have an office space, including a large kitchen.


Hardware store employee Logan Dodge, a Skowhegan Area High School senior, organizes items during his shift Wednesday in Norridgewock. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

Slowly, the Nickersons have been filling up the retail space with everything from an extensive collection of nuts and bolts to yard tools.

Customers have been happy to once again be able to buy those kinds of items without leaving Norridgewock, the Nickersons said.

Big Al’s Place, which was downtown on Main Street, closed decades ago, Steve Nickerson said. Along with Big Al’s, there was a plumbing supply store that closed long ago.

Big Al’s had everything, Nickerson said, including a lunch counter, a pool table and a full selection of hardware. The store’s advertisements in the Morning Sentinel often claimed, “We don’t have everything but we try.”

Albert Lewis owned the store for 20 years, according to his Morning Sentinel obituary in 2004. He also helped start the town’s annual Oosoola Days celebration, and some of his family members still lives in town, Steve Nickerson said.

“He would actually cook us lunch, and when we got done eating lunch, he would play pool with us,” Steve Nickerson said. “And a customer would come in, and he’d go wait on them.”


“They were just the best people ever,” Steve Nickerson said of Lewis and his wife, Lottie, who died in 1998.

The Nickersons said that while they do not plan to put in a lunch counter like the one at Big Al’s, they hope to expand their offerings to meet the community’s needs.

The store is affiliated with True Value, largely just for distribution, which gives the Nickersons access to hundreds of thousands of products.

An ad from Big Al’s Place in Norridgewock, which closed decades ago. File photo

“We’re smaller than an extra small store in (True Value’s) standards,” Eileen Nickerson said. “We didn’t get any startup assistance, even as far as laying out the store.”

Plans include buying from more vendors, expanding to sell more landscaping materials, including sand and gravel, and building a warehouse to store larger items, Ryan Nickerson said. The family might also expand the store’s hours and add to its current staff of one employee.

But the Nickersons said they do not want to grow so much that they compete with other Norridgewock businesses. When customers come in looking for plants or motorized equipment, which hardware stores sometimes sell, they send them to other local businesses, including Trees To Please, Hardy’s Motorsports and 3D Equipment.

Eileen Nickerson, the hardware store operations manager at Nickerson Yard Maintenance, works on a computer in her office Wednesday in Norridgewock. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

“It just helps everybody,” Eileen Nickerson said. “We’re not competing with them. We’re all kind of in it together.”

For Steve Nickerson, who has lived in town all of his life, that is a good sign for the local economy in a small town like Norridgewock.

“For a long time, you think of Norridgewock, you think of the landfill, Waste Management,” Steve Nickerson said. “I don’t really think of it now as a landfill town. It’s been having a growth spurt.”

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