SACO — For about 350 pennies, you can get a gallon of milk or a gallon of gasoline.
For the same price, you can get 175 pieces of candy at the Way Way Store.
The local landmark, a candy lover’s haven housed in a bright red-and-white former filling station, reopened last month after being shuttered for eight years.
Candy prices have gone up since then, but inflation isn’t keeping the customers away.
“We took the plunge and we are so humbled,” said Peter Scontras, 64, a local historian and retired teacher who, with his wife, Bridget, brought life back to the store under a lease agreement with the owners. “Everyone is saying, ‘Thank you!’ It’s like an old friend has come back.”
Peggy Tyrell, then 84, and her niece Catherine Cousens, then 72, had to close the store in 2003 – their ages had made it too hard to keep it going. The store at 93 Buxton Road is named “Way Way” because of its remote location on the outskirts of Saco. It had always been in the Cousens family until Scontras came along.
He and his wife reopened the doors on June 17.
“No one can replace Peggy and Catherine, but we can honor the legacy of store and adapt so it can survive,” he said.
Eugene Cousens built the store out of handmade concrete blocks from 1927 to 1929. It was essentially a service plaza for travelers in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, with gasoline, food, outhouses and clothes, Scontras said.
The store building is on the National Register of Historic Places, and Scontras wants to keep its historical significance alive.
The calendar hanging inside says June 1965, and the building’s exterior still sports its original color scheme.
Josh Hatch, 16, of Saco said he was a regular customer until the store closed. “Sometimes my grandpa would pick me up from school and would surprise me with 25 cents at the Way Way Store,” he said.
There are still canned and boxed grocery items for sale on the shelves behind the counter.
And children still stand on a little wooden crate to peer down at the rainbow of candy choices, such as Sour Gummies, Mary Janes and Tootsie Rolls.
“The kids are still kings and queens when they come here,” Scontras said, scooping a cone of Gifford’s Moose Tracks ice cream for an eager young customer last week.
“As fast-paced as the world is and as quickly as buildings can be erected and demolished, it’s nice to know that things can stay the same,” he said. “You can get reacquainted with yourself here and where you’re from, and it gives you hope for the future.”
One of the only changes Scontras made to the store was bringing his used canoe business to the front lawn.
The Cousens family had a sign that reads “Bless Those Who Don’t Need Everything Immediately” right next to the cash register. The Scontrases have kept it. There is no need to rush at the Way Way Store.
“We want people to remember the simple life – how it used to be,” Scontras said.
Staff Writer Ellie Cole can be contacted at 791-6354 or at: [email protected]