The owners of The Penalty Box Pizza & Pub in Damariscotta, Bristol residents Lisa and Kent Boucher, are preparing to open a new redemption center nearby.
The Bouchers purchased The Penalty Box on Jan. 4, 2017. While working at the restaurant over the summer, they faced a shortage of places where they could redeem empty bottles.
“With the pub and bar, we generate a lot of empties,” Kent Boucher said. “We kept running into the issue where we couldn’t find anyone to consistently take our bottles.”
Through conversations with customers, some of whom own other businesses, the Bouchers realized they were not the only people facing this issue, Kent Boucher said.
“We realized this was a need in our community, especially in Damariscotta, and we thought that we might be able to help out,” Kent Boucher said.
Bonus Redemption LLC operates redemption centers in Damariscotta and Newcastle, but is currently “in a period of transition,” according to co-owner Dylan Herald.
The Newcastle redemption center, at 116 Mills Road, is open, but its schedule may change “in the next couple days,” Herald said. The Damariscotta location, next to Hilltop Stop, has been closed, but Herald said he hopes to reopen it soon.
Bonus Redemption’s Waldoboro location is closed and there are no plans to reopen it, Herald said.
The Bouchers completed an application with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to open a redemption center as they began a search for a central location with good parking for customers, Kent Boucher said.
They eventually saw an ad in The Lincoln County News advertising a commercial space at 590 Main St. in Damariscotta. Dr. William Coppola owns the building, which houses his practice, Damariscotta Eyecare, and Neighborhood Clay.
The unfinished basement space had everything the Bouchers were looking for, Kent Boucher said.
“(Coppola is) one of our customers, so we talked to him about it the next time he came in and we worked out an agreement,” Kent Boucher said.
Coppola is in the process of renovating the basement to fit the redemption center’s needs and is scheduled to finish work in mid- to late January, Kent Boucher said. The Bouchers hope to open the redemption center, Reliable Redemption, by Feb. 1.
Reliable Redemption, named “for what the business will be,” Kent Boucher said, will offer a waiting area where customers can sit while their bottles are counted and sorted.
“We keep saying it will be like none other,” Kent Boucher said. “We want it to be very clean, and want it to be someplace people want to go, not just some place they have to go.”
The Bouchers have already started interviewing potential employees for Reliable Redemption, and some employees from The Penalty Box have already asked if they can work at both businesses.
“Over the summer we struggled to find help, but now we have too much help,” Lisa Boucher said. “The hope is we can have people move from one place to another based on if they want more shifts or where we need the help.”
“It’s really a win-win as far as everything goes,” Kent Boucher said.
Reliable Redemption will also offer bottle pickup services to local businesses and organizations. The couple has already purchased a trailer to facilitate this aspect of the business.
The main focus of the business, however, will be providing the best possible service to customers, Kent Boucher said.
“We want to make sure we’re providing the best service to our customers, whether (at The Penalty Box) or at the redemption center,” Kent Boucher said. “I always tell the staff, if you’re doing right by the customer, you’re not doing anything wrong.”
A Facebook page and website for Reliable Redemption is in development. For more information or to apply for a job, call The Penalty Box at 563-1563 and ask for the Bouchers.