2018-05-24 / Front Page

Downtown organization to open business

By Abigail Worthing
Staff Writer


Ripley Biggs and her father Robert Biggs, executive director of Saco Main Street, in front of the future home of the Saco Scoop, an ice cream shop opening this summer on Main Street. The ice cream cone sign comes from Saco Bay Creamery, whose owners, Jan and Don McGarva donated all the ice cream equipment to Saco Main Street to bring this store to reality. Saco Scoop is scheduled to open June 15. (Abigail Worthing photo) Ripley Biggs and her father Robert Biggs, executive director of Saco Main Street, in front of the future home of the Saco Scoop, an ice cream shop opening this summer on Main Street. The ice cream cone sign comes from Saco Bay Creamery, whose owners, Jan and Don McGarva donated all the ice cream equipment to Saco Main Street to bring this store to reality. Saco Scoop is scheduled to open June 15. (Abigail Worthing photo) SACO – Those travelling down Saco’s main drag may have noticed a large sign in a storefront located at 209 Main St., asking the question, “Hey Saco, what’s the scoop?”

The “scoop” was revealed last week: Saco Main Street, a downtown revitalization organization, has secured 209 Main St. as the location for Saco Scoop, its new business that will feature locally sourced ice cream and treats. The storefront is located next to the newly dedicated Post Office Park, which will provide seating for walk up clientele.

Saco Main Street, a nonprofit organization, will run the shop, which will aid in its mission to bring more traffic to Main Street and to promote other businesses as well as themselves. The store will hire one full time manager and later anticipates to hire one or two part-time employees. According to Saco Main Street’s Facebook announcement, all referrals and applications should be sent to the organization directly, either via phone or email, and “a positive outlook and smile is required.”

“We couldn’t let another storefront on Main Street to just become offices. When this space became available, we jumped on it,” said Robert Biggs, executive director of Saco Main Street.

The organization is leasing the storefront, formerly the Rugged Spruce coffee shop, and the offices located behind the shop, which will allow a permanent home for Saco Main Street, currently housed in the city hall annex. Biggs said the business will run separately, as Saco Main Street is a tax-exempt nonprofit, but will work together as an organization under Saco Main Street’s business license. Biggs declined to disclose what the organization will pay in rent. However, an online listing for the property shows rent as $2,500 a month. Saco Main Street receives monetary support from the city, which increased $15,000 from last year for an approved total of $71,003 for the fiscal year 2018-2019 budget, according to city budget documents found online.

Saco Main Street officials have brainstormed ideas for a downtown business for a year, but the decision to open an ice cream store came from a donation from a nearby business: Saco Bay Creamery at 319 Main St.

When Jan and Don McGarva, owners of Saco Bay Creamery, decided to close up shop and sell their house and barn, they decided to donate the ice cream machinery to Saco Main Street.

“We believe that there needs to be an ice cream shop on Main Street. When the buyers for our house said they didn’t want an ice cream shop, this was our way of ensuring that another one could open up,” Jan McGarva said.

The McGarvas ran Saco Bay Creamery for four seasons, but decided to close this year in what McGarva calls, “an effort to simplify.” McGarva will help members of Saco Scoop set up machinery and get the storefront up and running, and plans to stay on through the initial process of opening, which is scheduled for June 15.

Saco Scoop will sell ice cream sourced by Shain’s of Maine, and will also offer local fudge, chocolates and freshly made cotton candy.

“We’ll be offering between 22 and 24 flavors in three coolers, and we’ll also be selling Seadog Biscuits,” said Ripley Biggs, 18, daughter of Robert Biggs and future scooper for the shop.

Ripley Biggs is a former Saco Bay Creamery employee and has helped with the set up of the storefront.

One of the windows that looks out into the park is expected to be retrofitted into a walk up “doggy window” for people to enjoy their ice cream with their canines.

The store will also sell a variety of Maine goods, such as honey and maple syrup.

“We’re not looking to compete with any other business down here, so we won’t be selling jewelry or art,” Robert Biggs said. “We want to try and keep it local to Saco, Biddeford, Old Orchard Beach, Lyman. Places right around here.”

Alongside the Maine-made wares will be a collection of Saco and Thornton Academy merchandise for sale, allowing tourists and locals alike the opportunity to show their Saco spirit.

“Where can you get a Saco shirt around here? A gas station, maybe at Rite Aid? We want to put Saco on the map,” said Alex MacPhail, Saco Main Street board member and ad representative for The Courier.

After the dedication of Post Office Park on May 15, those “in the know” were allowed a behind the scenes view into the future Saco Scoop, still in construction stages. There is a sign from Saco Bay Creamery that Saco Main Street plans to display, a tribute to the shop before them and its donation that brought the shop to fruition.

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