Friday, December 13, 2013
By Doug Harlow firstname.lastname@example.org
STARKS - There is no post office in Starks, population 640.
Joe and Ashley Hayden hope hard work and good business management will help their Starks General Store to prosper.
David Leaming/Morning Sentinel
There is no school, no stop light and until last week, no store.
Joe and Ashley Hayden, both graduates of Madison High School, opened the Starks General Store last Monday in what had been the town office.
There hasn't been a convenience store in town since Lemon Stream Variety, on nearby Route 43, closed about four years ago. The Starks Country Store in the middle of the tiny village closed about 10 years ago.
Joe Hayden, 28, said he and his wife lease the 40-by-40-foot building from the town, with an option to buy it later. Starks voters at the annual town meeting in March agreed to the lease agreement and to move the town's municipal offices into the former Starks Elementary School, which was closed by the district in 2010.
The store building was built in 2001.
The Haydens said they hope good business at the new place will come as a result, of, well, good business.
"We were at Casey's Market (in Anson) one day and thought about doing it," Joe Hayden said. "Change of career, I guess. We thought, just bring it to town -- there was nothing in town for us."
What will make a general store work when others have not made it in the past?
"I don't know -- hard work and good business management," Joe Hayden said.
He grew up in Starks and also works construction in the summer and cuts wood in the winter.
Ashley (Steward) grew up in Madison. She was a waitress at the River's Edge Restaurant in Madison and later worked at the Franklin-Somerset Federal Credit Union, also in Madison.
The couple has two children, Joseph, 4, and Emma, 2.
Ashley Hayden said she agrees with her husband's approach to doing business in Starks where others before them have not fared well.
"I think it's going to be on how we manage the store," she said, making a pepperoni pizza on a recent morning. "We're going to bring a lot of new things to town. We're going to do our Santa's village in the winter time; we'll have fresh produce and fresh eggs and fresh-dough pizza."
The store will offer hot and cold sandwiches, salads and daily grocery needs along with a tagging station and bottle redemption center.
The store is open seven days a week with free delivery within a mile of the store.
Joe Hayden said he and wife decided to name the store after the man he said founded the town after the Revolutionary War. A likeness of the man graces the cover of the store's menu.
"We named the store after Gen. Starks -- that's why we call it The Starks General Store," he said with a wry smile.
Waterville Sentinel Staff Writer Doug Harlow can be ontacted at 612-2367, or at: