Current view of the Otis General Store

Welcome

The Otis General Store (OGS) is situated between Beech Hill Pond, Green Lake and Graham Lake – servicing the towns of Otis and Mariaville. With a year-round population base of about twelve hundred people, the number of residents triple during the summer months from mid-June to Labor Day as Mainers and out-of-staters visit our lake-studded region. 

Traffic flow, on an annualized basis, is 1,560 vehicles per day as Route 180 serves as an alternate route to Bangor from Ellsworth and also feeds Route 181, which connects to Route 9, an alternate route heading to Downeast. Beech Hill School is located a quarter-mile south from the store nearly across the street from the town office. A new Otis/Mariaville fire station is located two miles north of the store.

The store is perfectly located to service lake communities and local townspeople with the competition eight miles south to Ellsworth and twelve miles north to Clifton/Amherst. 


(Current view of the Otis General Store)

the store is to the right of the farmhouse.

History

An Otis general store has been in continuous operation since the early-1940s after the US exited the Great Depression, serving the communities of Otis and Mariaville. Errold Salsbury, a sawmill owner and dairy farmer, built and operated the general store with help from his thirteen children (the store is to the right of the farmhouse and Gulf gas sign in the picture).

Salisbury brothers in front of the Pine Tree Stores, circa 1952

Known as the Pine State Store of Otis, the general store was very popular with local boys and girls. They would peddle bikes for miles just to ride Errold's pony that munched on grass next to the store. Customers filling up their vehicles had to park on the side of the dirt road to get gasoline at five cents a gallon. 

(Errold Salsbury and helper in front of the Pine Tree Stores, circa 1940)

newer otis general store

In the 1970s, Harold Salsbury took ownership of the building and changed its name to the Otis General Store and soon decided to build a new store across the street. By May 1975, the Otis General Store was up and running. The old Pine Tree Store was moved down the street and converted into a family dwelling.

even newer photo of otis general store

Having completed the move in the mid-1970s, Bob and Nancy Dow bought the store from Harold Salsbury. Doug and Gloria Smith acquired the Otis General Store in the mid-1980s and promptly added an addition and new fuel system.

Gloria Smith tossing dough

A large pizza oven now graced the Otis General Store. Several newspaper articles have been written about the store's pizza, which continues to draw rave revenues in local papers today.

The above ground fuel system is environmentally friendly with a steel reinforced secondary containment area protecting it from harm and spillage. Unlike the underground fuel systems, these tanks are not required by the state to be replaced every 30 years. More importantly for the customers, drivers could pull into the large parking lot to fill their vehicles with a new fuel dispenser.

(Gloria Smith tossing dough)

even later picture

Carl and Val Farley eventually bought the store from the Smiths who in turn sold it to Russ and Sharon Nealey. One of the key investments in the store was a 1957 gas powered generator that literally saved the town during the famous ice storm of 1998. The wintery event was made into a documentary.

interior of store now

Don and Jen Holt bought the store at the turn of the century and made the key decision to acquire a liquor agency license. Their daughter and son, Jennifer and Jason, both helped run the store.

Today, the Otis General Store remains a family-run business. Three different families who have owned the store separately since May 1995 currently manage the day-to-day operations of the store. Michael Warren and his wife, DD, co-own the store with Russ and Sharon Nealey. Jason Ryder, the son of Don and Jen Holt, remained as manager. With a quarter-century of experience, the management team has worked hard to recruit an excellent staff that excels at customer service.

crab rangoon

Current Offerings

The Otis General Store offers much more than convenience stores that have dominated the small-store retail space for 50 years. While the current OGS conveniently offers tobacco, liquor, wine, beer, milk, eggs, soda, snacks and food service products, the locals refer to it as the "Otis Mall" because you can also find a full range of groceries, cleaning supplies, non-prescription medicine, a deli, automotive accessories, high-end fishing tackle for all seasons, camping gear, hunting ammunition, wood cutting supplies, basic tools, and clothing. Recently its fuel offering has expanded to include off-road diesel and non-ethanol mid-grade gasoline that complements our 87-octane gasoline, kerosene, diesel, propane and firewood.

(Home made crab rangoon)

A view of Graham Lake and Tunk Mountain from the back deck of OGS

Maine

Maine is an excellent place to live and to start or raise a family. For families looking to get away from it all and visit "vacationland" (our state slogan), Otis and its environs offer visitors an excellent place to spend the summer. Swim at Beech Hill Pond beach, launch a boat on one of our nearby lakes, fish year round or hike up to Mariaville Falls, Eagle Bluff or Chick Hill! And for those families looking to get out of the everyday city grind, reconnect with nature, experience a four-season lifestyle, and be a part of a closely-knit community, Otis is the place to be. 

(A view of Graham Lake and Tunk Mountain from the back deck of OGS)