November 16, 2012

Waterville outlet store likely victim of Hostess liquidation

Augusta outlet also expected to close

By Paul Koenig
Staff Writer

and Kaitlin Schroeder
Staff Writer

Shoppers at two Hostess-affiliated bakery stores in central Maine were sad and nostalgic on Friday following news that the company will close.

click image to enlarge

Doreen Campbell, of West Gardiner, shops for bread on Friday afternoon at the J.J. Nissen Hostess Bakery Outlet on Leighton Road in Augusta.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

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Following a nationwide strike, Hostess said it will lay off its 18,500 workers -- including 500 at its Biddeford bakery -- and sell its products, which include Twinkies, Wonder Bread, Ding Dongs and Ho Ho's.

The bakery stores in Waterville and Augusta are expected to close.

At J.J. Nissen on Kennedy Memorial Drive in Waterville on Friday, shopper Theresa Crane said it's hard to imagine a world with no Hostess snacks. Holding two overflowing bags of Twinkies and other Hostess items, Crane said the dozens she bought would last a while.

"It's sad because it's something you grow up on. I mean, who didn't have Twinkies as a kid?" she said. "The nice thing is I hear Twinkies last 100 years, so I'm going to stock up."

At the J.J. Nissen Hostess Bakery Outlet on Leighton Road in Augusta, a store clerk who said she couldn't speak to the media confirmed the store will close. Another clerk working the register told customers to stock up, saying the store will likely close in a few weeks.

Doreen Campbell, 58, of West Gardiner, said she's shopped at the store every week for 20 years because it has the lowest prices on a lot of products, especially bread. Campbell will buy non perishables at other discount stores such as Marden's, she said.

"Of course you can't get the bread," she said, patting an eight-pack of hamburger buns. "That's going to be hard."

Campbell said she feels bad for the workers who will be out of jobs.

Sandy Botka, 56, of West Gardiner hadn't heard the store will close until she stopped in Friday morning.

"Actually it's kind of depressing. I feel bad for them," she said.

Another shopper, Paul Reny of Readfield, walked out of the store pushing a cart full of expired white bread -- feed for his chickens -- without knowing the store will close soon.

"That must be why they're saying they don't have a lot of food left," said Reny, 54.

Reny said he usually buys carts of old bread at the store every week or two and will likely have to buy more grain after the store closes.

Paul and Betty Whittier of Mount Vernon were also buying bread for feed, but they give it to wild birds at their home. "The blue jays will eat a lot of this," said Paul Whitter, 78.

They said they'll hate to see the store go.

"I'm going to miss it," said Betty Whittier, 77. "A lot of people will, I think."

At the Waterville store, Crane's sister, Julie McAllister, said that she was shopping for her two kids who are unhappy they will lose the snacks they love. She said her 14-year-old son wanted to make sure he had enough to stock his tree stand for hunting season.

Shopper Joyce, 71, and John Lanctot, 76, of Skowhegan heard that morning Hostess will close. Joyce Lanctot said they live on Social Security benefits and shop there weekly, for the discount price.

"If you'll notice a lot of people here are elderly and come for the great price," he said, pointing out the other shoppers. "I really would hate to see this close."

Paul Koenig -- 621-5663

Kaitlin Schroeder -- 861-9252

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