Media Archive

New business planned for Sebec Village

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 164, No. 16, April 17, 2002

By Sarah MacIlroy
Staff Writer

SEBEC Everyone needs a new look every once in a while-even buildings.

That's part of what prompted E.Forbes Smiley III to launch a renovation project in Sebec Village.

"The building was becoming decrepit and we wanted to try to renovate it," explained Smiley. "The idea is... to put it back together and create a business and an opportunity for the people locally."

Smiley, working in conjunction with Kristie McLeod, plans to renovate the building which was previously home to the Sebec Post Office, creating a new post office and mailing center, a coffee shop and eventually a farmer's market.

"It is our intention to work with the town in order to bring back services and employment which has regrettably been lost downtown over the past several years," Smiley told the selectmen. "Largely encouraged by many local residents of Sebec,I have... taken on this project in the hope that its success will add in a small way to the health and prosperity of the town as a whole."

Smiley said he sought and will conitinue to seek input from residents as to what they would like to see the business offer.

"We're trying to fish around and see what people need," he said.

Although the renovations aren't complete, the U.S. Post is open for business and will eventually include shipping services, like UPS and Fed Ex, as well.

"We have the contract with the postal service to deliver the mail," he said. "and we want to operate a modern, well-run, efficient post office that meets all the demands of people locally."

The coffee shop that Smiley is proposing to be built will serve a light lunch and most importantly, he said, serve as a place where local people can gather.

"We'll also have a great, long .porch overlooking the lake," he said.

With all the work that is being done on the building, Smiley said they are trying to remain historic in their approach by creating relaxed facilities with an old-fashioned feel.

"A number of us decided that it might be a good idea for the renovations to respect the architecture of the village," he said.

Smiley, a summer resident of Sebec, said he grew up in a small town similar to Sebec and that experience helped him recognize the need for local people to have a place,likc a coffee shop, to gather and exchange news.

"The initial response (to the project) has been positive," he said. "We're trying to make this a community project."

McLeod said they had been using local craftsmen to complete the work, and that she was pleased with what had been accomplished.

"Local contractors Bud Ames, Dan Watters and Ken Manchester have done a fantastic job with the on-site and finish carpentry," she said. "And Dan Peterson has also done a really great job."

With the extra space left after the post office and coffee shop are there Smiley said they would also be including a farmer's market.

"I know people locally need an outlet to sell their goods and we will have the space," he said.

Smiley said that they are welcoming vendors for the farmer's market.

The coffee shop is slated to up and running by early summer with the farmer's market to follow soon after.

"We hope to put money into the local economy that stays there," he said. "And we want to be able to employ people locally."

From a purely business standpoint, Smiley is confident about making a success of the venture.

"We wanted to do some business that caters to what's all ready here," he said. "So how do we satisfy that need and at the same time be successful? I think the key is to listen and keep asking questions.... and to meet local needs first."

He said he wants to provide something that the people of the area didn't necessarily have before, a place to sell their own products.

"We will be working and trying to meet the challenge of making sure we're in the business of providing what people want," he explained. "The goal is at the end of two or three years is to have people forget its new and say they can't imagine Sebec without it."

Anyone who would like to sell their goods at the farmer's market or who would like to be considered for employment at the coffee shop should call McLeod at 564-8963.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.