Bottom line: Revamped Canaan convenience store on the market after health issues force sale

  • John Lippman. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Business Writer
Published: 11/14/2020 9:54:36 PM
Modified: 11/14/2020 9:54:26 PM

Stu and Cathy Bean spent two years — and nearly a quarter million dollars, most of their lifetime savings — bringing the Pleasant Valley Store back into the life of Canaan the community.

The couple, after a battle against bureaucratic red tape and costly upgrades to the property, reopened the Route 4 convenience mart and diner that was a roadside staple for Mascoma Valley for 104 years but which had been shuttered by the prior operator.

Now, after only 16 months, the Beans have put Pleasant Valley Store up for sale because, Cathy Bean reports, her husband, Stu, is facing critical health issues. Bean is looking at the future and realizes she won’t be able to juggle their three businesses, which include Mirror Lake Automotive and Mirror Lake Rod & Custom, alone.

“I get up at 2:30 to 3 in the morning, come in here, work all day, and then I’m home at night on paperwork. ... We don’t know how long (Stu) has. I don’t want to be stuck running three businesses by myself,” Cathy Bean said.

The Beans are well-known around Mascoma Valley. Stu, 64, formerly owned auto repair shop Enfield Garage. Cathy, 65, ran the Petro Mart (now closed) for nearly 20 years and then worked at Papa Z’s in Canaan, now a Jake’s Market & Deli.

The Beans bought Pleasant Valley Store in late 2018, spending six months fixing it up, including installing a new $40,000 septic system. At the time, Stu said their ambition was to do little more than to create a welcoming neighborhood grill and gathering spot where people could enjoy sausage, biscuits and gravy, “meet friends, share stories and tell lies.”

But a year after opening the store, Stu was diagnosed with heart disease after a series of heart attacks in July.

Cathy Bean said she’s in “no rush” to sell the store, which is listed for sale by Vanessa Stone Real Estate for $499,000, but she hopes someone from the local community will step forward.

“I’m a local girl, and I want to keep the store owned by local people,” said Bean, an Orange resident.

And business has been good, Bean said. Sales at the store have been up 30% in 2020 over 2019, to which Bean credits the pandemic.

“We sell a lot of beer,” she said. “Nobody has anything to do so they stay at home and drink and smoke. The deli is doing very well, too. COVID, if anything, has helped us because people want to shop local.”

The store also has gotten a lift from customers escaping populated areas and moving to their seasonal homes around Goose Pond, she said.

Bean said she’s grateful for the support the store has received from customers, many of them whom the Beans have known for a long time.

“I’ve had a hell of a lot of support from the community,” she said.

But with Stu’s prognosis uncertain, Cathy said she is faced with no choice but to sell the store.

“I finally got my dream. I spent 40 years working for somebody else and now I have to give it up,” said Cathy Bean, her voice cracking. “But my husband is more important.”

Lebanon’s Freightliner franchise joins ATG convoy

In recent years, nearly every locally owned car dealership in the Upper Valley has been acquired in a consolidation wave driven by large, out-of-state dealership groups.

Now an Upper Valley truck dealership is following suit.

Shrewsbury, Mass.-based Advantage Truck Group has acquired the Freightliner Trucks franchise on Heater Road in Lebanon from previous owner Jay Alosa. The deal also includes Alosa’s Freightliner franchise in Londonderry, N.H.

“Our goal as an organization is to have our locations strategically placed on all major routes in New England, and that’s what we’re going to accomplish with this acquisition of Freightliner,” said Kevin Holmes, CEO of ATG.

ATG, formed in 2018 when Tri State Truck merged with Manchester.-based McDevitt Trucks, is the largest dealer network of Daimler Trucks in New England with eight locations in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont.

ATG/McDevitt sells trucks and operates service centers for Daimler’s brands Western Star and Freightliner, in addition to Mack and Isuzu.

Located adjacent to the The Fort diner and truck stop, the now-renamed ATG will expand beyond selling only Freightliner trucks and is looking to add to its 11-employee team with new positions in truck sales, field technicians and the parts warehouse, Holmes said.

Kevin McDevitt, partner in McDevitt Trucks, said the Freightliner facility, located off Exit 18 on Interstate 89 in Lebanon and a few miles from the I-89/I-91 interchange, gives the company an unmatched spot at the gateway to Northern New England.

“We’re very bullish on Lebanon,” McDevitt said. “We think there is a tremendous amount of growth at that facility.”

Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.




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