ELLSWORTH, Maine — A longtime downtown toy and book store is being sold to new owners.
Michael Curtis, owner of Union River Book and Toy Company, sells the business to local residents Molly and David DiLena. Curtis retains ownership of the Main Street building where the store is located, which includes four upstairs apartments and other businesses at the rear of the building.
Curtis, 70, said he was selling in order to have more time to maintain his commercial properties, which include two rental properties on Ledgelawn Avenue in Bar Harbor, and more time for himself.
“It’s time for me,” Curtis said, adding that guiding the store through the pandemic hasn’t been easy. He said he’s basically run the store himself for two years.
The sale price of the business is not disclosed.
Molly DiLena has been working with Curtis in the store for a few weeks while learning how to run the business. She said he introduced her to his suppliers and showed her how to maintain the store’s inventory and finances. The expected due date is June 1.
Molly DiLena said she and her husband, who works remotely online as a physicist, moved to Maine five years ago from San Diego. She said she had a sister and a brother who live in the area and they wanted to be near her family.
A former elementary school teacher, DiLena has focused on raising their four children for the past twelve years. Her husband, who is also trained as an electrician, once ran a construction business, she said.
The DiLenas aren’t planning any major changes, though it could expand the store’s book selection, which is primarily aimed at children. She said they could also expand the store’s game selection and fit out its basement, which is accessed by a wide staircase directly in front of the checkout, as a discount aisle and game room.
“I’m going to take some time to figure this all out,” she said. “It’s a good place for families to come for a bit of everything.”
Curtis, whose parents owned and operated Sherman’s Bookstore in Bar Harbor, said he added books to the toy store‘s offering when he bought the business in 2010. It was called Treasure Island , then Four the Fun of It before buying it.
He said the store focused on what the book industry calls “leftovers.” Sold to stores at a deep discount, he was able to sell books well below sale price. The store can also order special books directly from publishers and have them shipped directly to a customer’s home, he said.
“It’s a win-win situation for everyone,” he said of the store’s discount book deals.