By Dale Labbe
GREENVILLE – 1983 was a good year. Sally Ride was the first woman in space, kids discovered the hacky sack, and everyone was listening to Bonnie Tyler belt out “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, while Dallas and Dynasty ruled evening television.
As the world of exploration, music and entertainment continued throughout the world, a small store in the remote area of Greenville, Maine was purchased by Stuart and Lea Watt. What they have created together since 1983 has forever changed and improved the lifestyle of those living in that community.
The store, known as “Indian Hill Trading Post” was originally owned by the Muzzy family. It was a convenience store for folks arriving at the Moosehead Lake Region. You could find ammo and a few guns, fishing supplies and general provisions. The family in turn sold the business to John Goodwin in 1982. The following year Stuart and Lea Watt purchased it. Lea, herself, had worked there for a number of years and was familiar with the operation. She saw it as a good opportunity and shared her thoughts with Stuart. Stuart had always envisioned owning his own business, and knew that with Lea as his partner, they could accomplish just that. Together they approached John Goodwin with an offer. It was accepted, and the Watts began their adventure.
Within the first three years they built their first of many expansions. They enlarged the place to a bit over 14,000 square feet, which included numerous aisles and four checkout stations. They also featured a “magic door” – one that would open and shut automatically. “The only one north of Dover-Foxcroft!” raved a newspaper article. There was a bakery on the premises that turned out all sorts of delicious items, at great prices. Another section was devoted to fresh salads, including egg and potato, as well as Italian sandwiches.
In 1986, with an eye for the future and knowing what customers were in need of, Stuart added clothing and more seasonal provisions. Then as now, the words “improve” and “good buys for our customers” are by-words at the independent Indian Hill Trading Post.
After teaming up with Willey’s in 1988, the store was able to offer major brand names of clothing such as Carhartt and Levi. Expansion, again, would soon be needed. Stuart and Lea continued to listen to what their community needed and were able to utilize every bit of space just to have things on hand.
Their son Craig joined the family business working during the summer, and daughter Meredith was soon to follow. Making this a truly family owned business. So when in 1990, a need for more space was apparent, the now “Watt family” business worked together and added on, again. This time a 12,000 square foot addition was built, expanding the trading post side. This included two new floors for merchandise. The entire section was now a tri-level area and showcased everything for hunting, fishing, camping, clothing, giftware and so much more.
Hand in hand, Stuart and Lea continued forward. Within the next four years the grocery store expanded to its current size by adding an additional 8,000 square feet. “This has helped us offer so much more to our customers,” Craig stated. It has been noted that after years of serving the community, the “customer” is still what this business finds important.
Soon after they purchased the local A&P in downtown Greenville with the hope that the smaller store would offer more options with easier access and convenience for the local population. The “Village Food Mart”, as it was named, greeted many through its’ doors. The management, along with employees became “family” to the locals, and a fixture to downtown Greenville.
Although the building is no longer used as a grocery store, plans for this site are currently in the making as the Watt Family perceive a better location for Lea’s store, Moosehead Traders.
Ranks of employees have swelled from about a dozen when the store first opened to about 70 full and part-time workers. “They are the strength and biggest asset of our business,” Stuart noted. “We have been so fortunate to have great people working with us and they, in no small part, are responsible for our success.” He added that many employees have come and gone, but all were solid contributors to the business. There are also more than a few that have been with the Indian Hill family for more than 20 years. Showing all that a well-run business “has and keeps” a good staff of people.
After Meredith and Craig finished their schooling, they chose to join the family business, full time. They have both settled into the area and are raising their families. “Both have been an inspiration and an asset to us as their parents and to this company,” Stuart and Lea reply admirably. He then adds, “What a great feeling it is for Lea and I to also spend time with our grandchildren as often as we do!”
The Watt family is passionate about their business. Always looking for ways to better the service they offer and always aware of growth in the community, they look to the future again. And in 2004, Indian Hill Trading Post took on the Hannaford Line of food items. “We are very pleased and proud that we have been given the opportunity to be supplied by Hannaford’s independent store division,” Stuart remarked. “We feel this is the right decision for our customers and our company.” For almost 10 years, this relationship has continued smoothly. Knowing that some items are hard to get, customers have been encouraged to speak with associates regarding the items they would like to see on the shelves. This is something that has certainly added to the exceptional variety of choices for shoppers over the years.
With approximately 35,000 square feet to leisurely walk through, Indian Hill Trading Post and Shop ‘n Save is commonly known as the “One-Stop” shopping area. If you are in need of anything from groceries, fresh baked goods, deli items, fish and meat to clothing for the whole family, shoes, boots, camping and fishing gear, guns and ammo, items for the home, books and toys for the kids, and the list could go on, you will then understand the meaning of the “One-Stop Shop”. Every nook and cranny is filled with eye-catching merchandise and many of the things you would normally have had to travel out of town for. If you don’t see it, then you just need to ask.
At this time of a major milestone of celebrating the store’s 35th anniversary, the Watt Family (Stuart, Lea, Craig and Meredith) would like to extend their thanks and appreciation to all who were a part of the Indian Hill Trading Post Team. “In the early years the Muzzy family were helpful on many occasions along with former owner Jack Goodwin,” noted Stuart. “They were instrumental in helping us accomplish our goals in many different ways.” “We extend special thanks to all of the Managers and employees, past and present. We are also very grateful to this wonderful, supportive community. Without you all, Indian Hill Trading Post would not be what it is today.” “Lastly, Lea and I would like to thank our children, Craig and Meredith. They had other choices in their lives but chose to stand proudly beside Lea and I. We are very fortunate and very blessed, in every way. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.”
In celebration, the Watt Family would like to show their appreciation with a 35th Anniversary Sale, being held on Saturday, June 1st from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This event will be full of great giveaways, drawings, samples, free hotdogs and so much more. Special giveaways include an Old Town Kayak donated by Garelick Farms, an Old Town canoe donated by Maine Distributors, a Jiffy 4 Stroke ice Auger and much more. Stuart invites you all to come celebrate with the Watt Family and the entire Indian Hill staff.