Rita Pollard greets customers from behind a plexiglass shield above the cash register at Steamboat Landing in Bar Harbor. Pollard co-owns the gas station and convenience store with her husband Bain. Business was down by about half last month, she said, compared to the business they did last year in April. ISLANDER PHOTO BY BECKY PRITCHARD

Daily life: Convenience stores stay stocked and sanitized



BASS HARBOR—Gas sales are down and alcohol sales are up, noted Tiffany Surette of Hansen’s Outpost, a gas station and convenience store in Bass Harbor. 

While business in general has “definitely been a lot slower, Surette said, “Cigarettes, beer and liquor sales have increased. People are stuck at home.”

Owner Norman Hansen added, “We’re still doing a lot of food. Lunchtime is busy. Regulars still come in.” 

Yet layoffs due to changes in the lobster market have affected regular customers in this fishing village on the quiet side of MDI.  

When the lobster market was down due to a drop in demand in China last winter, Surette noted, “Lobstermen had to lay off their second and third stern men.” Now with the market rebounding, back-to-work stern men are coming back into the store.

Hanson’s Outpost in Bass Harbor has seen an increase in tobacco and alcohol sales, and a decrease in gas sales as people stay home. “We’re still doing a lot of food,” said owner Norman Hansen. “Regulars still come in.” ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Like other convenience stores on the island, Hansen’s has had to make small modifications to stay open and serve the public in the time of COVID-19.

Only five customers are allowed in the store at a time. Hansen said the store now has plexiglass guards over the register and food stations. 

“We disinfect every half hour,” Surette said. Shared surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned with disinfectant regularly to prevent the spread of any virus. 

“We have a really good solid crew,” Hansen said, “and a great community who understands the changes we’ve had to make.” 

 

To the north at the head of the island, Rita Pollard, who co-owns Steamboat Landing with her husband Bain, has also noticed a decrease in business at the station and convenience store. 

“There’s not much going on. We’re here: we’ve got the screen up,” she said, referring to a plexiglass window above the register. 

Regulations allow only five customers to be in the store at a time, but Pollard said, “We’ve only reached that limit once.” In past years, Pollard said April is when things usually pick up at the small convenience store at the intersection of Routes 3 and 102, as tourists start heading onto the island. 

Comparing last April to this April, she said, “We’ve done half the business.” 

Besides the lack of customers, Pollard has noticed one other change, literally.  

“We have a lot of extra change,” Pollard said, referring to nickels, dimes, and quarters. “A number of people won’t take it.”  

This may be because, according to the National Institute of Health, coronavirus can remain stable for hours or days on various surfaces. 

Pollard said the customer’s loss becomes the Hancock County SPCA’s gain, as she drops all spare change into a can she keeps on the counter. 

Pollard, who has been keeping the shop open at roughly the same hours with her husband and grown son as staff, said she is ready to move on and hopes to sell the store. “If you want to buy it, it’s for sale,” she said. 

 

Becky Pritchard
Former Islander reporter Becky Pritchard covered the town of Bar Harbor and was a park ranger in Acadia for six seasons.
Becky Pritchard

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