Yarmouth hardware family adds Gorham store

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YARMOUTH — The owners of Coastal Hardware have acquired Cook’s Hardware, long a fixture in Gorham village.

Phil Cook Jr., after spending nearly half a century at the Gorham store, this month turned the business over to Bill and Holly Chandler. The store at 57 Main St. in Gorham has been renamed Gorham Ace Hardware. Cook, who has retired to Florida, still owns the building.

The Chandlers have ties to Gorham.

Bill Chandler, a Gorham High School graduate in 1978, said friends from the past have been stopping in to welcome the Chandlers back to town. “Its been a warm reception,” he  said.

Chandler grew up on Teran Street and said he was a classmate of both Shawn Moody, who founded the chain of collision centers, and developer Susan Duchaine. He played soccer, baseball and basketball in high school. He and his wife graduated  from the University of Southern Maine and lived on the Gorham campus.                                        

The couple has owned their Yarmouth store on Route 1 for 25 years.

Cynthia Hawkes, Cook’s sister, continues to work in the Gorham store that her father started. Phil Cook Sr. or Portland, now 98, opened it as Casco Country Store, she said. The building had previously housed a grocery store in the heart of the village.

“It was Sampson’s, a perfect location,” said Hawkes, who lives in Windham.

Gorham Zoning Administrator David Galbraith said Phil Cook Jr. had told him he was just six months short of working there for 50 years. “It’s great to have a local hardware store,” Galbraith said.

Chandler said he first inquired about buying Cook’s Hardware 10 years ago.

No one lost a job when the Chandlers took over the business at the the first of the month. Chandler said he has 12 employees at the Gorham location and 21 employees at Coastal Hardware on Route 1 in Yarmouth.

Both locations are affiliated with Ace, a retail cooperative. Hawkes said her brother had previously been connected with Ace but had been independent the past four years. The Chandlers reunited the Gorham store with Ace.

“My wife and I dedicate our time to the stores,” Chandler said.

Their son, Joel, and daughter, Courtney Larochelle, are also involved in the daily operations. “It’s a true family business,” Chandler said.

He recalled  working decades ago for John Ivers’ IGA in Gorham. He said it was his first real job. Later, he worked for Sportsman’s Hardware in Westbrook when it was owned by Jim and Nancy Sanderson of Gorham.

There, Chandler said, Dwight Simonds, a hardware business legend, was his mentor. “He taught me a lot of lessons,” Chandler said.

Cook’s Hardware in Gorham is now owned by Bill and Holly Chandler, owners of Coastal Hardware in Yarmouth.

Bill and Holly Chandler, owners of Coastal Hardware in Yarmouth, are new owners of the former Cook’s Hardware in Gorham. Pictured in a family photo are son-in-law Rob Larochelle, left,, Courtney Larochelle, Holly Chandler, Bill Chandler, Joel, Kim, Dominick and Skye Chandler.