The Alna General Store is slated to change hands this summer according to a news release. Ken and Jane Solorzanos served their last tacos April 29, and Newcastle residents, Jasper Ludwig and husband Brian Haskins, began their plans with the building on May 1.
The Solorzanos have operated the store since 2017, purchasing it soon after Ken’s retirement from military service. Although they had no business experience, they hoped a niche offering would give them an edge. In their business model, the goods and services stayed basically the same, and they added authentic Mexican cuisine using the traditions and recipes from Ken’s family.
While sustaining the store through the pandemic was challenging, the Solorzanos persevered by shortening the store’s open hours and running everything themselves.
“Our community kept this store open through the hardest times of the pandemic, we got through the shutdown, the take-out and curbside only, the summer that wasn’t a ‘Maine summer,’ all because our community kept their little general store in mind through it, and kept coming back,” Ken Solorzano said in a news release.
Haskins and Ludwig approached the Solorzanos in the fall of 2020 with interest in purchasing the store. The Solorzanos found many aspects of their vision “dreamy” – locally-sourced foods and goods, expanding the foods and market aspect for the store, a bakery, and much more.
“We were utterly enchanted with these young, successful entrepreneurs wanting to make their way in Maine – and as a kid, Jasper had pancakes on Saturdays at the counter of this Alna store with her dad, that meant a lot to me,” Jane Solorzano said, in a news release.
For the Solorzanos, it was also the right timing. “We appreciate everything we have learned and gained from being the store’s owners, and we can see that the store’s potential will be well served by Brian and Jasper. Brian and Jasper have years of experience in this field even though they are young, and we are super excited to see what they will bring to our community,” Ken Solorzano said.
The Solorzanos will stay in Alna. They hope to enjoy being semi-retired and having time for family and friends, and staying active in the community.