A small family-owned country market in northern Aroostook County popular among tourists and locals that began as a farmstand more than 120 years ago is under new ownership.
This is the second well-known business in Sinclair to announce major changes in the last month. The Sporting Club on Route 162, a restaurant and bar also popular with locals, tourists and outdoor enthusiasts, recently announced it would close on Oct. 17 after 50 years in business.
At first glance there is not much else around St. Peter’s Country Store but the occasional moose, lots of woods and a house here and there.
But outdoor enthusiasts — from snowmobilers to hunters from all over the country and Canada — who visit the area know that this is the place to stop for gas or a hot cup of coffee on a chilly morning. Located on a sparsely populated stretch of Route 161 in Sinclair, the store is situated near snowmobile and ATV trails that pass behind it.
Jules St. Peter, who has owned and operated the store for decades, has passed the reins on to former customer, Marcie Wilde.
St. Peter’s grandmother Ozite St. Peter began a farmstand in 1898 that evolved into St. Peter’s Country Store run by his father Norman St. Peter. Jules St. Peter took over the family business 42 years ago.
After working seven days a week, 14 hours a day for all of those years, St. Peter said he was ready to move on from owning a business, but not until he could feel confident he was leaving his legacy in good hands. He said Wilde fit the bill.
“One day this lady pops in with this infectious smile with a beautiful big Ford pickup with a sled on it,” St. Peter said. “I thought ‘wow, you usually see that with the guys.’ This lady knows how to act and how to ride — she impressed me from day one.”
Originally from California, Wilde moved to Brunswick almost 30 years ago, and began snowmobiling in The County. These getaways impressed her so much, she bought a house in Eagle Lake. Four years later, she is the owner of one of her favorite local stops.
Wilde said the store will maintain its name, as well as the many services that have long been offered through Jules St. Peter.
“This is a staple of the community,” Wilde said. “People come here for information, for items that they need, for conversation, for coffee; it’s more than just a store.”
She does plan to expand the business though, by adding lottery tickets and possibly becoming a state agency liquor store. Wilde also plans to start a sister business within the three-bay garage on the property, which will rent recreational vehicles and gear such as snowmobiles, side by side ATVS, ice fishing gear and jet skis.
Prior to purchasing the store, Wilde said she worked in “corporate America” in software sales. She said she prefers the more peaceful way of life in northern Maine.
“I like the change of seasons, the wilderness, the woods. I like to hunt deer, birds and a moose hopefully someday if I ever get drawn [in the moose lottery],” she said. “I like the easy going, laid back atmosphere here. Everybody is just chill.”
St. Peter said what he will miss most about working at the store are “the wonderful people that come from outside the area to patronize our beautiful, beautiful paradise called Aroostook County, Maine, and especially the Fish River chain [of lakes].”
St. Peter said he does not consider himself retired as he may look for part-time work eventually, but for now he will spend time with his wife Ruth and the couple’s children and grandchildren.
“I’m also going to try to do all the things that I’ve been catering to all these years — fishing, snowmobiling, side by siding — the good stuff,” he said.