Listed: For $3.8m, a Maine general store where a president loved to hear the gossip

Feb 11, 2022 | No Responses

The sale will include a 2,000-square-foot apartment and an antique truck.

By Regina Cole Globe Correspondent,Updated January 30, 2022, 12:00 a.m.

The building is now painted a soft yellow with green trim.Courtesy of HB Provisions

From the deck off Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen’s bedroom, there are picturesque views of the Kennebunk River tidal basin and, farther away, the intricate spire of South Congregational Church in Kennebunkport. Created in 2012, the bedroom occupies the former attic of a two-story frame house in the center of Lower Village in Kennebunk, Maine. On the level below are two more bedrooms and a vast living room that is open to a kitchen equipped with top-of-the-line appliances and granite countertops. The home is elegant, comfortable, private, and very quiet. You would never know that the floor below is a hive of activity from 6 a.m. until 8 every evening.

The general store, which has been completely remodeled, has been in business since 1865.Courtesy of HB Provisions

The ground floor houses H.B. Provisions, a general store with a café, bakery, deli, liquor, and grocery departments that, due to its history and location, acts as the center-of-town meeting place. As the late president George H.W. Bush, a local summer resident, often remarked, H.B. Provisions is “where everyone comes to meet and greet.” The former president and first lady attended Bonnie and Helen’s wedding in 2013.

In this Sept. 21, 2013, photo, former president George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush joined longtime friends Helen Thorgalsen (center) and Bonnie Clement at their wedding in Kennebunkport, Maine.
In this Sept. 21, 2013, photo, former president George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush joined longtime friends Helen Thorgalsen (center) and Bonnie Clement at their wedding in Kennebunkport, Maine. Susan Biddle

“He used to love to pop in, especially after church, and grab a doughnut and have a cup of coffee,” Thorgalsen told the Globe by phone from the store after the president’s death in 2018. “That was one of his things that he did; stop in and find out what the gossip was.”


Helen and Bonnie bought the building in 2002, when the store was called Meserve’s Market. Built in 1865, the building has functioned as a store with an apartment above it for all of those years.

The couple moved into the upstairs apartment and launched a total renovation of the market, which included painting the exterior a sunny shade of yellow accented with green.

“We wanted to create a place that feels more like a country store than the local convenience store,” Bonnie said. “We spent three months traveling and looking at country stores to learn what made them special and successful.”


“We gutted the store and put in new floors, new wooden shelving, and we redesigned the layout,” Helen said. “We put in a large deli. One-third of the store is devoted to beer, wine, and spirits, which are a big part of our business. We changed the name to H.B. Provisions (from our first initials, Helen and Bonnie.) We opened the store in May of 2002, and have been open every day since.”

In 2012, they tackled the apartment. By converting the attic into a bedroom suite, they expanded the 900-square-foot home into a spacious 2,200-square-foot apartment on two levels, with a grand staircase connecting them.

The apartment kitchen was completely redone as part of the renovation.Courtesy of HB Provisions
One of the home’s three bedrooms.Courtesy of HB Provisions
The stairs in the apartment section of the buliding.Courtesy of HB Provisions

“We had to bring it up to code when we redid the apartment,” Bonnie said. “So now we have a sprinkler system on all three levels of the building.”

In the apartment, they installed new wiring and plumbing, heating and air-conditioning systems, and created atmosphere with two gas-powered fireplaces. In addition to the deck high on the top floor, the second story houses two more decks. One overlooks Lower Village, while the other is an enclosed, private space for relaxing and sunbathing.

“We work a lot but also get to live very comfortably,” Helen said.

The home has three decks.
The home has three decks.Courtesy of HB Provisions
A second deck.Courtesy of HB Provisions

After 20 years of working long days, seven days a week, Helen and Bonnie have put the building at 15 Western Ave. on the market. John Anderson of Investcomm Commercial Group in Kennebunkport has listed it for $3,800,000.


“This is an unusual property because it has served as the center of the community for so long,” Anderson said. “While new owners can continue the tradition of living above the store, the apartment could be rented or even sold separately. There are no restrictions on its use.”

Included in the sale are the store, the apartment, two parking lots, and a 1952 Ford three-speed pickup.

“It has its original green paint and runs great,” Bonnie said. “We use it for deliveries, for beach runs, or to simply drive around town at the end of the day.”

A 1952 Ford pickup comes with the sale of the property.Courtesy of HB Provisions

She said the truck is like the store: charmingly retro with contemporary function.

“I like to say that this is an old-fashioned country store with modern technology.”

Author: John Anderson

John Anderson, President of the firm, is a licensed real estate broker, Realtor, 2014 Maine Commercial Association of REALTORS, REALTOR of the Year, past president of the Maine Commercial Association of Realtors and board member of the Maine Association of Realtors. Mr. Anderson has an extensive background in marketing and business development and is a candidate for the prestigious Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) commercial real estate designation. Mr. Anderson has participated in a large variety of commercial and investment real estate sales and leasing transactions throughout southern Maine. He has served as treasurer of the Maine Commercial Association of Realtors, is past president of the Kennebunk-Kennebunkport Chamber of Commerce, past president of the Kennebunk Portside Rotary Club and served as chairman of the Kennebunk Downtown Revitalization Committee and served on the Kennebunk Downtown Committee.

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