Things were busier than normal around the Village Store in Thetford Center this past week. The time to remove the gas pumps and underground gasoline storage tanks had come, causing the temporary closure of the Thetford Center Post Office that inhabits the rear of the building. The tanks and pumps are the property of Global Montello Group, a corporation that “…provides energy marketing services. The Company specializes in the storage, distribution, and marketing of heating oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, propane, bunkers, crude oil, natural gas and electricity, compressed natural gas, biofuels, and additives.” Global is therefore responsible for the removal of the equipment when they decide to stop marketing gas at a location.
First the pumps were removed, sometime mid week. The much bigger job of digging up the two gas storage tanks was accomplished on Thursday. A large pile of soil was dug from the driveway leading to the post office, exposing the tanks. Then the bucket of the excavator was chained to a bracket on the first tank, and it was heaved out of the ground by brute force.
The extracted tank was huge and barely fit on the behemoth of a tractor-trailer that arrived to haul it away. It was last seen on Route 113, waiting to turn onto I-91 north.
The second tank came out later that day.
While the Postal Service maintains that the Thetford Center Post Office will very probably reopen soon, it is deliberating over the long-term plan for this P.O., which may be its eventual closure.
The Village Store is still listed as being for sale. It is anybody’s guess whether the removal of the gas pumps and tanks makes the store more desirable, since a potential liability is gone, or less of a business prospect.
Turning to the far end of town, we find a different story at Baker’s Store in Post Mills. The store was purchased by Ankit Patel and family who own six country stores across rural New Hampshire.
A festive air lingers after the recent reopening of Baker’s Store on Monday, May 1st. Colored flags hang above the kerosene pumps, and bright banners announce “Now Open!” and offer beer, wine, and sandwiches.
The gas pumps have been replaced, and the name CITGO is gone, replaced by the words “Baker’s General Store.” Inside, the Baker’s Store brand is also carried on an extensive line of herbs, seasonings, and barbecue rubs, the neat rows of jars spanning several shelves.
The layout of the store hasn’t changed, but there are improvements like more space around the cashier’s counter. This area displays handy small packages of shampoos, personal care products, and basics like aspirin. The ice cream freezer is conveniently located under the display.
Also next to the cashier is a new countertop offering many types of ready-to-go coffee, from the basic drip coffee and decaf to fancy coffees in carafes and even a cappuccino-making machine with two flavors for now.
They have also invested in gleaming new coolers in the drinks section and a sleek open cooler up front that holds deli meats, sausages, cheeses, and some desserts.
The previous owner had installed two new pizza ovens, and they were in constant use in the late afternoon as customers stopped in, perhaps on their way home from work.
The four employees behind the pizza and sandwich counter were as busy as bees.
It seems that the Patel family is working hard to make good on their promise "We will Do our best to Give you same customer service and quality."
Photo credit: Li Shen