Renys, a department store chain with 17 locations throughout Maine, bought its Bath location from Sagadahock Real Estate Association, securing its downtown Bath for the foreseeable future. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

BATH — Renys department store will be staying on Front Street in Bath for the foreseeable future. 

“There is always the temptation to move from an older building to a shopping center with one floor of easy shopping and more parking, but we love Bath and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to always be a part of a great city,” said John Reny, CEO of Renys. “Managing the Bath store was my first job at Renys, and we promise to make us all proud to have a Renys in downtown Bath for years to come.”

Last month the retail chain purchased its Bath location from the Sagadahock Real Estate Association, which Main Street Bath Executive Director Amanda McDaniel said is something to celebrate. 

“I think Renys is one of the best anchors of downtown Bath,” said McDaniel. “They offer almost anything you could need so you don’t have to go to a superstore.” 

Renys made the Percy building at 86 Front St. its home in 1973. At the time, it was the store’s eighth location. The store chain now has 17 locations throughout Maine. 

Built in 1852, the Percy building has been the home of several different clothing and department stores, including David T. Percy and Sons, Bridge-Merrill, Senter’s, and Barden’s department stores, according to Robin Haynes, manager of the Sagadahoc History and Genealogy Room at the Patten Free Library. 

According to the Bath assessor database, the building was last assessed at $1.2 million.

Last-minute holiday shoppers browse two floors of merchandise at Renys department store in Bath.  Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

Renys has plans to renovate and update the building in the coming year by adding new LED lights and new restrooms as well as exposing the tin ceilings on the first floor and installing an elevator between the main and lower floor. 

One Renys employee pointed out charming architectural details hidden among the racks of merchandise such as round radiators and hand-carved wooden cases in the back of the first floor once used to display ornate women’s hats. 

“The store has so much charm and character,” said Caroline Thibeault of Topsham. 

“(The Reny family) recognizes the building they’re in is a key piece of our beautiful downtown,” said McDaniel. “They’re a family-run business who are hyper-aware of what it’s like to run a business in Maine. I have no concerns about them being the new owners of that building.” 

This sale is the latest for the Sagadahock Real Estate Association, which has been trying to sell off its extensive property list piece by piece. 

“My twin sister and I are the main shareholders and nobody wants to take over the family business,” said John Morse IV, whose family owns the real estate company. “The next generation are successful people with high paying jobs. They live in different towns and none of them have expressed an interest in coming back.” 

The Sagadahock Real Estate Association — which Morse said is spelled with a K because that was the correct spelling of the Sagadahoc River in 1890 when the company was established — initially owned 20 properties, 18 of which were in downtown Bath. Within the past two years, the company has sold 14 of those properties. 

Morse said he was waiting to sell the property to the Reny family because they “have always been good tenants,” and said he knew he could trust them to take care of the building. 

“I did not want (outside landlords) to own the building because they will throw a coat of paint on it and flip it,” said Morse. “We want longterm people who will own and maintain the building and participate in downtown activities. Downtown Bath is a pretty neat place.” 

“The Morse family has been the best landlord, with a real concern for Renys and the people of downtown Bath,” said Reny. 

A few other tenants occupy small offices and meeting spaces on the top floor of the building, including a Bath Iron Works union, local artist Jack Gable, and the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust. 

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