The Village Tie Up sits on the northwest side of the outlet of Mill Stream which flows from Crystal Lake to Long Lake on Main Street in beautiful downtown Harrison, Maine. This was the site of the former Caswell Grist Mill.
Harry Maxfield ran a filling station at this location from 1939 until his retirement around 1960. Delmore “Deg” and Harold Maxfield then took ownership and later Durwood “Dody” ran it for a few years.
Dale and Barbara Ward purchased Maxfield’s service station in 1970 and turned it into The Village Tie Up, selling groceries and gasoline.
In 1973, the Ward’s sold The Village Tie Up to Philip and Dianne Jackson. A native of Oxford, Phil came to Harrison from Biddeford where he had managed a Sampson’s Supermarket.
At this time, there were four filling stations in Harrison; George Maxfield’s garage, Art’s Body Shop, Bob Latham’s and the Village Tie Up. Howard Berry ran a convenience store by the lake in North Bridgton and the Baldwin brothers operated a store where the Olde Mill Tavern stands today.
Just like today, The Village Tie Up had gas pumps in the front (street side), a marina in the back (lakeside) and a general store, market and deli in between. Under the Jackson’s ownership, they doubled the inventory and carried a complete line of groceries, fresh produce and packaged meats, as well as marine supplies, non-resident hunting and fishing licenses and even bait. Their first year of operation, the Jackson’s did most of the work themselves, hiring teenage boys to pump gas. Phil even did oil changes in one bay of the garage. In 1974 they tore down the garage and built a 12’x40’ addition with a walk-in cooler. They moved the counter to the right of the entrance and added a bottle room to take care of the returnables. The first adult hired by the Jackson’s was Berdena Morrison who worked the morning shift. Clara Tenney worked the afternoon shift. In 1977 when Phil was serving as State Senator, his wife Dianne and five local helpers manned the store with Phil working on the weekends. They conveniently lived in the apartment over the store; and in 1977, they enlarged it adding another bedroom and a large living room with a porch view of the lake.
The fire department used a red phone system from 1955 until 1980 to alert firefighters. When a call was made to the emergency number, special phones in four or five locations rang simultaneously and volunteer citizens in their home or business took the call and activated the siren. One of these red phones was located in the store.
In 1984, Walter and Kathy Riseman purchased the store. They continued much of the same with a full line of grocery items and a dock on Long Lake where boaters could “tie-up” to purchase groceries and fuel their boats as well. In 1990, Walter installed energy efficient walk-in coolers which reduced the cooling costs. This was done under a rebate program encouraged by Central Maine Power in order to reduce the demand of electricity in Maine.
In 1992 the store changed hands once again with Robert and Jan Swett purchasing the store. Bob was well known for his award-winning chili. Using an old favorite recipe of his in 1996, he won the “People’s Choice Award” for the best chili at the Great Chili & Chowder Challenge held at the Holiday Inn By the Bay in Portland.
In 2002, twelve cars could park out front and twelve boats could dock out back. Several picnic tables were in place overlooking the lake for anyone who wanted to enjoy their lunch outside in a picturesque setting. Although the local people supported their business, the owners depended on the tourist trade to get them through each year.
In the fall of 2007, Shawn and Kristen Walker acquired the store from the Swett’s. When they found the Village Tie Up, they knew it had potential and liked the location with the lake right in their backyard. The Walkers completely renovated the store, adding specialty products and an expanded wine selection among other improvements.
In September of 2009, the current owners, Tracy and Brian Williams purchased the store with plans to own and operate The Village Tie Up with their family (3 children and black labs) for many years to come. You can learn much more about the Williams family in the Meet the Owners section of www.villagetieup.com.