Uncle Pete’s Community Market in December 2022. The convenience store and gas station on Harpswell Neck is under contract. (Robin Casey photo)

Pete Arnold, owner of Uncle Pete’s Community Market on Harpswell Neck Road, has signed a contract to sell the store.

The market, the land, and the gas and diesel pumps had been on the market for nearly a year. Arnold said he’s selling the store “lock, stock and barrel,” including its inventory. Closing is expected in January.

Chetna B. Patel, of Hollis, New Hampshire, signed the contract as the buyer. Arnold said three members of Patel’s extended family will run the store. “They’re young and they have the strength and energy to run this place,” Arnold said.

The Patels “own a bunch of stores,” according to Arnold, including one in Bath and two in Augusta.

The Harpswell resident told the Harpswell Anchor last December he wanted “someone who can keep the employees and keep the integrity” of the convenience store, which also is a gathering place with a tiny restaurant and coffee bar. He wouldn’t sell to just anyone, he added; it had to be someone with a commitment to the community.

And it looks like he’s succeeded.

The prospective owners have said they will not change the name of the store, will retain its workers, and even will keep the same telephone number and Facebook page. Arnold said they agreed to “keep doing stuff for the town — the Grange, the rec center, and for fire and rescue,” as he has done since buying the market a little more than three years ago.

“It’s kinda exciting,” he gushed while working behind one of the market’s two cash registers as customers came in and out. “I get to move on to my next phase.” The first thing on his agenda is a vacation. Eventually, he wants to either work for a “doggie day care” or start his own. He’ll remain at his Ash Point home. “I’m here until I die,” he said, chuckling.

Arnold said his brother, Ed, lives in Hollis, New Hampshire, and told a friend about the store. The friend passed the information along to the Patels. About a month ago, Patel family members came into the store on a Thursday. Before leaving, they gave him a check as earnest money.

Arnold would not disclose the purchase price of the business, located next to the Harpswell Neck post office, but said it was close to what he wanted. The business and building were initially listed for $549,000, plus inventory. Patel could not be reached for comment.

“We’ve got the first steps,” with earnest money and a signed contract, Arnold said. The closing is planned for early January. “It ain’t done until it’s done.”

Connie Sage Conner is a retired editor of The Virginian-Pilot. She lives in Harpswell and serves on the Harpswell News Board of Directors.