WATERVILLE — The city is seeing a flurry of retail business activity, including the impending opening of Oliver & Friends Bookshop downtown later this month and the expansion to Incense & Peppermints candy store into a space next door on Main Street.

“All this activity, particularly in retail, shows that Waterville remains resilient and an attractive market,” said Kimberly N. Lindlof, president and CEO of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce.

Oliver & Friends, which opened in 2020 in Belgrade, is moving to the ground floor of the Colby College-owned Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons at 150 Main St. and will carry books for people of all ages, greeting cards and gifts. A soft opening is planned for May 22-23, a chamber ribbon-cutting event will be held May 24, and the grand opening is set for Saturday, May 25.

Owner Renee Cunningham has been working to prepare the 985-square-foot space, located between the Chace Family Forum and Camden National Bank.

David Spinney-Porter, left, and Malcolm Porter, owners of Incense & Peppermints, stand Thursday in front of the wall they plan to open up to expand their store in Waterville. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

“I’m loving the vibe of the city,” Cunningham said. “I’m absolutely looking forward to opening my doors. Waterville has been so welcoming. The energy is great here on Main Street.”

The shop will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday to start, and Cunningham said she hopes to expand to being open six days.

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To the south of her shop, which she will lease from Colby, Incense & Peppermints at 48 Main St. will expand into the former Framemakers, next door at 46 Main St., with an expected opening toward the end of June. Framemakers closed March 30.

Malcolm Porter and David Spinney-Porter opened Enchanted Herbs & Teas at 48 Main in 2016 and in 2020, six weeks before the pandemic, they added the candy store, Incense & Peppermints. The herbs and teas part of the business had to be placed in the background during the pandemic and the focus was on candy.

But the wall to be removed between the two storefronts will allow space for Enchanted Herbs & Teas to return, with four café tables and chairs to be added so patrons can taste the teas before buying. Brewed coffee, iced teas and lattes will be served as well, and Maine-made gifts including stuffed animals, T-shirts, sweatshirts, postcards and maps will be featured. Both stores are under the business name Enchanted Stones.

“The candy store will stay put, right where it is,” Malcolm Porter said this week. “We’re anticipating only having to close one day to get everything in place.”

The candy store features fudge and lots of other items, including freeze-dried candy that has a shelf life of 25 years and changes the consistency from chewy to crunchy. The store is 1,200-square feet in size and the 1,200-square-foot former Framemakers space is being renovated. Shelves will be installed and a small kitchen added.

“We’re going to be painting from ceiling to floors,” Malcolm Porter said. “Any time a small business has an opportunity to experience growth, that’s always a good thing for a small business, particularly coming off the pandemic. It’s nice to be able to grow instead of shrink, so we’re excited to have been doing OK and be able to expand the shop to prepandemic glory.”

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News about the pair of downtown shops comes as other new business openings are slated across the city.

Maureen Milliken of Oliver & Friends Bookshop, stocks books Thursday at the new business at 150 Main St. in Waterville. A soft opening for the store is planned May 22. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

R.H. Reny is scheduled to open a store in Waterville next year in a mall just outside of town, according to owner John Reny, who said late last year that he could not disclose the exact location. Contacted Friday, Dan Bradstreet, the city’s director of code enforcement, said his office had not yet received an application for a new Renys location.

Five Below, an American chain of specialty stores, is scheduled to open this year at Elm Plaza. The store, whose items are featured for $5 or less, carries novelties, candy, toys, games, gifts and other items.

Hill Hospitality is scheduled to begin construction on a four-story, 89-room Home2 Suites, a Hilton hotel, at the corner of Industrial and Armory roads. It is scheduled to have 95 parking spaces and an indoor pool.

A new AT&T retail store is located at the former Little Caesar’s pizza shop on Main Street. At 10 Railroad Square, Randy and Lisa Jones developed The Playhouse at Railroad Square, a center for the performing arts and the new home of Aqua City Actors Theatre.

And soon, Old Soul Supply Co., will open at 103 Main St.

At 140 Western Ave., Aprilla’s, a bakery and takeout business, is being developed in a space that formerly housed the Engine 5 Bakehouse. MEZZA, a Lebanese restaurant, is scheduled to open next month at 34 Temple St. Scotty’s Pizza closed on Water Street in the city’s South End, but Cheryl’s Pizza opened at 35 Water. Bixby Chocolate in the Paul J. Schupf Art Center on Main Street downtown closed this week.

 

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