Michael Curtis, left, stands next to Molly DiLena in the Union River Book & Toy Company store in downtown Ellsworth on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. After owning the business for the past 12 years, Curtis is selling the store to DiLena and her husband David DiLena. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A longtime downtown toy and book store is being sold to new owners.

Michael Curtis, owner of Union River Book and Toy Company, is selling the business to local residents Molly and David DiLena. Curtis is retaining ownership of the Main Street building where the store is located, which includes four upstairs apartments and other businesses in the back of the building.

Curtis, 70, said that he is selling so he can have more time to maintain his commercial properties, which include two rental properties on Ledgelawn Avenue in Bar Harbor, and more time to himself.

“It’s time for me,” Curtis said, adding that shepherding the store through the pandemic has not been easy. He said he has essentially been running the store by himself for the past two years.

The sale price for the business is not being disclosed.

Molly DiLena has been working with Curtis in the store for a couple of weeks while learning how to run the business. She said he has been introducing her to his suppliers and showing her how to maintain the store’s inventory and finances. The planned hand-off date is June 1.

Molly DiLena said that she and her husband, who works remotely online as a physicist, moved to Maine five years ago from San Diego. She said she has a sister and a brother who live in the area, and they wanted to be near her family.

A former elementary school teacher, DiLena has focused on raising their four children for the past dozen years. Her husband, who also is trained as an electrician, has prior experience running a construction company, she said.

The DiLenas aren’t planning any major changes, though it might expand the store’s book selection, which is geared mainly toward children. She said they might also expand the store’s game selection and set up its basement, which is accessed by a wide set of stairs directly in front of the checkout counter, as a discount department and game room.

“I will take a little time to figure all that out,” she said. “It’s a good place for families to come for a little bit of everything.”

Curtis, whose parents used to own and operate Sherman’s Bookstore in Bar Harbor, said he added books to the toy store’s offering when he bought the business in 2010. It was called Treasure Island and then Four the Fun of It before he purchased it.

He said the store has focused on what the books industry calls “remainders.” Sold to stores at a deep discount, he’s been able to sell books at well below the cover price. The store also can special order books directly from publishers and have them sent directly to a customer’s home, he said.

“It’s a win-win for everybody,” he said of the store’s discount book offerings.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....