LIVERMORE FALLS — Melanie Rounds took a pan of uncooked apple turnovers from a rack where they had been rising and put them in the top of her double oven. She reached back and grabbed another pan, this one filled with strawberry strudelniks, and placed it in the bottom oven.

Rounds, of Livermore Falls, is hoping her new bakery and café, Butter Cookies, on Depot Street will survive the economy and help attract more customers and businesses to the downtown.

A wooden sign on the wall displays a saying that spurs her on: “Nothing is impossible to a willing heart.”
She believes it’s possible to make the town bustle again.

Businesses have come and gone over the years, while some have stood steadfast for decades. Longtime residents often reminisce about the past when the downtown was booming.

But there appears to be a spark of energy in the small business world with vacant properties starting to fill up and storefronts getting face-lifts. Several businesses have opened recently that enhance the deep-rooted establishments. They include a copy center, a quilting supply store, a pizza and sub shop and a lobster pound. Fitness centers, doctors’ offices and discount stores are also on the list of growing services.

“We have a downtown with the ability to have small stores, which would make it unique,” Town Manager Jim Chaousis said. “There is an opportunity, in my opinion, for small businesses to come in and thrive off other small businesses.

“The demographics of the area will not attract the large-scale stores that hurt the small businesses. I think with the trend in fuel prices, people will pay a few pennies more and buy local. I think we are in a unique situation where the trend is turning in our favor.”

Jackie Knight, a selectman and president of the Livermore Falls Downtown Betterment Group noted that there are a lot of good changes. “It’s very exciting.”

Rounds has set up her shop with old-fashioned décor and the modern convenience of wireless Internet service. She makes most of her baked goods from scratch with natural ingredients. Rounds, a diabetic, is conscious of healthy foods and keeps sugar in her items, if used at all, to a minimum.

She’s having a yard sale Friday and Saturday to bring people downtown.

“I think a lot of people don’t know (the new businesses) are here,” Rounds said. “Some people are so used to seeing empty storefronts. There are days we’re hopping and days we’re quiet.”

Rounds has plans for the future: selling baked beans on Saturdays, and hopefully, country breakfasts will follow.

“If we can get that spark, this town will be booming,” she said. “I’m so hopeful. There’s such a sense of community here — if we can just get the people downtown to shop.”

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Melanie Rounds of Livermore Falls places a pan of apple turnovers into a double oven at Butter Cookies, her bakery and café on Depot Street in Livermore Falls.

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