UNITY — An Amish store is already drawing a swarm of customers just a few days after reopening following a fire in January that destroyed the building.
The new owner of the popular Amish Community Market and Bakery, John Yoder, described the reopening as “simply awesome.”
Standing in the market now, the charred remains immediately following the fire are a distant memory. The front porch — lined with handmade wooden chairs, produce and pots of mums — creates an idyllic autumn Maine scene and invites customers inside.
Sue Reynolds, who lives in Etna, said the new building looks “fantastic.” She used to make weekly visits to the market. She was anxiously awaiting the reopening and was there Friday to stock up on favorite items.
One product that’s missing for now is the market’s famous doughnuts. They should be back sometime later this week after a vent hood is installed over the fryer, said Yoder, who assumed ownership of the market from Caleb Stoll during the rebuild.
The market is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. every day except Thursdays and Sundays. It’s a mix of a hardware center, grocery store and bakery with loads of goods made by the surrounding Amish community or otherwise made in Maine. But if you want to make a purchase, leave your credit card at home, only cash or checks accepted.
Laurie and Brian Yacino were at the market for the first time Friday and picked up a variety of items, impressed by the low prices. They live in Mount Vernon and were in the area for the Common Ground Country Fair when they decided to stop by. An aunt had told them about the market last year but they didn’t have a chance to visit before the fire.
Yoder said efforts were made to maintain the general appearance of the store, but the porch out front is a little wider, the bakery in back a little bigger and the inside has a new layout for shoppers.
People can peek into the bakery to see the hustle and bustle as workers produce a wide variety of baked goods.
And across the store the offerings range from the practical to the whimsical. There are axes, tools, boots, baking supplies and spices. And then there are the locally made sweet treats: pies, breads, cookies and fudge in flavors ranging from raspberry to maple nut.
The fire last winter quickly engulfed the building, with heavy smoke that could be seen for miles, leaving the employees unable to do anything but watch.
But it didn’t take long for the Amish community to begin cleanup and rebuilding efforts, and the broader community showed support as well — with many donating money to the construction effort.
Although the state fire marshal’s office investigated the fire, it was not able to determine the cause. The fire started near the boiler, Yoder said, so it’s believed it may have malfunctioned and been the cause.
In the new building, there have been several changes made in the interest of fire prevention. The boiler was moved outside, fire resistant insulation was used and the Styrofoam was covered instead of leaving it exposed like in the old building.
Standing in the new space Friday, Yoder expressed his appreciation for those who contributed to the rebuild.
“I would definitely want to thank just the town, the community for their interest and help, and donations especially,” he said.