The store has served in its current capacity on and off for over a century, survived a fire, and at one time had gas pumps outside. On Monday, March 3, and Tuesday March 4, the store will hold its final clearance to sell out its wooden shelves that have given it that true country store look and feel for so long. The US Post Office located in the store will remain in its current location, partitioned off from the rest of the building with its own entrance and lobby.
According to Darlene Betit, the decision to close was not made lightly. “It takes a lot of time and energy to run a store,” said Betit. “We had many things going on in our personal life where we felt like it was time for us to close the store.” The store has also been faced with the local economic realities of the time as attendance at the local fishing derbies has dropped, along with the number of regular customers.
Town Clerk Almira Aekus said that the store has provided a place to call the center of Whitingham for a long time, and has also been a place for those in its proximity to go without having to travel far for what they needed.
“We always felt that a country store was the root of the community,” said Betit. “It’s a necessary part in keeping it together. Whitingham doesn’t have any other venues besides this and the post office and it gave people a place to communicate and get their needs met locally without having to go all the way to Wilmington. There are people here in apartments in Whitingham without transportation, and this place gave them an easy way to get what they needed.”
The Betits do intend to use the building in the future for cooking and serving food during the Maple Festival, and during the holiday season for selling Christmas trees and wreaths. Darlene said she and Steven would be open to any suggestions from the community about using the space for a pop-up store, or a space for flea market-type items.
“Maybe it needs a fresh look and new ideas,” said Betit. “We’re open to anything people might have to offer, and to listen to any suggestions the community might have.”