On Main Street in Yarmouth, not everyone embraces change

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YARMOUTH — There was much fanfare when Andy’s Handy Store, a Main Street fixture, became Handy’s Market & Cafe in June, with new owners, new products, and a new look.

But the store’s owners are finding out not everyone is a fan of change.

The market at 367 Main St. had its grand opening in mid-June after being renovated by cousins Sean and Amy Ireland, who bought the store last winter. Inside the store are Otto Pizza and Hilltop Coffee, which partnered with the Irelands. The market also sells groceries and has an ice cream window.

Sean Ireland said the store has been doing very well, averaging 550-600 transactions a day, although some long-time customers of Handy Andy’s probably aren’t among them.

“When you walk in, it’s a completely different store,” Jean Sheridan said. “They are definitely marketing to a different clientele.

“The old Andy’s was certainly in need of a face lift, but it did have character, whereas the new streamlined interior is quite austere by comparison,” she said. “This seems a shame to me.”

Sheridan said the prices are higher and the grocery items are more specialized, compared to the old store. She said the new store is trying to be like Rosemont Market & Bakery, at 96 Main St.

“Overall it gives the impression that it is inviting an elite clientele … and is intentionally discouraging the broader customer base that is used to finding what it needs in that location,” Sheridan said.

Although Ireland said Handy’s is different from Rosemont because Handy’s offers more convenience-store items, he acknowledged that the store stocks products that are slightly different than those previously offered by Andy’s.

“I would say we have some healthier items in the grocer section, but we’re not meant to be a specialty store,” he said.

Julia Langham said Handy’s offers fewer convenience items than it’s predecessor.

“When you have a local convenience store, you expect it to be a convenient store,” she said. “When I run to buy milk and toilet paper, I don’t think to go to Handy Andy’s anymore.”

Dean Lunt, however, said he likes the new store, said it’s OK if Handy’s doesn’t offer as many convenience items anymore, because the town has Cumberland Farms on Route 1.

Lunt also said comparing Andy’s Handy Store with Handy’s Market and Cafe is hard because it’s not the same store.

“It brings more diversified food options to Yarmouth,” Lunt said.

Jeff Weinstein agreed.

“It adds adventure to Yarmouth eating,” Weinstein said.

Several people said they like the store and enjoy having Otto Pizza in town. Ireland said it’s becoming one of the pizza chain’s busiest locations.

Weinstein and his wife Mary both said Handy’s is different than it used to be, but not in a bad way. They said it’s “upscale,” while still offering “odds and ends.” 

Despite her criticims, Langham said she finds the new store exciting, and that she enjoys Otto Pizza. But she said Handy’s says something about the direction the town is headed.

“I think Yarmouth is becoming a place to be, rather than a place to live,” she said. “I think Handy Andy’s is a great addition to that, but that they need to cater to higher and lower class.”

Sheridan said the new store is no longer suited for people on lower incomes who used to frequent the previous store.

“The old inevitably makes way for the new, but it makes me angry because I see it as a snub to those in the Yarmouth community and in other towns nearby who are not on the upward path,” Sheridan said.

Ireland said he understands that some people don’t like change, although he’d like to change their minds.

“Change is hard for folks and people are resistant to change,” he said. “We’re working very hard to earn them back.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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Handy’s Market & Cafe looks different from the former Andy’s Handy Store.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.