BUCKFIELD — By the middle of July, residents can again visit the beloved Tilton’s Market, thanks to new owners Donnie Allen and Diane Cote and some fresh renovations.
The cornerstone of Buckfield’s business center will reopen under the same name it had for 74 years. The store spanned three generations, with Gilbert Tilton starting in 1939. His son, Virgil, took over after Gilbert and was followed by Gilbert’s grandson, Stephen, until it closed in March of this year.
Allen and Cote said they will operate Tilton's the same way they run Poirier’s in Lewiston, which they have owned for four years. Allen said that when they bought Poirier’s, there were five employees. They now employ 18 people. Allen hopes to see the same kind of growth at Tilton’s.
The pair said the store will be much the same as it was under Virgil, with a full butcher department, a produce case, small groceries and a full kitchen with ready-made salads, sandwiches and pizza. Allen said he doesn’t plan to be in competition with Hart’s pizza; it will just be another service. He said they will be selling beer as well.
Store Manager Meghan Avery will be asking customers what they would like to see the store carry.
Allen said they plan to have a clean store with friendly clerks in keeping with the Tilton manner.
Cote said that Town Manager Dana Lee was crucial to helping them contact Glen Holmes in Community Development to follow through on the purchase. She said that they expect to close the sale next week, but actually had talked with Virgil before the store closed in March.
Even if the sale had not gone through, Cote said, it was worth the effort just to meet Virgil.