KITTERY, Maine – At closing time on a spring evening, Carl’s Meat Market and Golden Harvest co-owner Jim Spencer and general manager John Flintosh discussed the possibility of Flintosh one day taking over both. companies.
Flintosh told Spencer, the longtime co-owner of Carl’s and Golden Harvest, that if he and his wife Carla were considering selling Kittery’s top establishments, he would like to make an offer.
While Spencer first told Flintosh that a sale would take place in three to five years, “a few months later he said he was ready.”
As of September 29, John and Juliana Flintosh have been the new owners of Carl’s Meat Market and Golden Harvest, handed over to Carla and Jim Spencer, who have owned and operated both stores for the past decades.
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Carl’s, which was founded by Carla’s great-grandfather Carl Peschel in 1941, has been owned by the Spencers since 2006, and the married duo took ownership of the green storefront in Golden Harvest Forest in 1998.
“We were surprised, but then we were like, ‘Well, I guess it’s time to go,’” said Flintosh.
Carl’s and Golden Harvest are must-sees in Kittery
On a busy Friday afternoon inside the two State Road businesses, Carl’s patrons meandered around the deli counter, ordering an assortment of deli meats, specialty sandwiches and burgers. At Golden Harvest, customers chose between an array of colorful fruits and vegetables, picking up other treats and eating along the way.
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Both places are popular with locals, and the Flintoshes have no intention of changing any aspect of either of these matters.
“It’s a great community of people,” said John Flintosh. “I’m just excited to keep it the way it is.”
Buyers will continue to see the Spencers until the end of 2021, as the couple have committed to continuing to work in the midst of the ownership transition. At Carl’s Friday afternoon, Jim Spencer was behind the meat counter, a familiar face taking orders at a business his family no longer owns.
“We’re here to help and ease the transition for them, the employees and the community,” he said.
After that, they no longer have any current projects or business prospects, just the shared feeling of wanting to take time for themselves at the start of the year.
Laughing, Carla Spencer said, “We’re always mobile and stuff, so we’re like, ‘We want to have fun. “”
When asked about her favorite memories, Carla said customer interactions and support at both companies was a constant highlight.
A prime example came in 2017, when a large-scale sewer line failure caused thousands of gallons of raw sewage to submerge from the Portsmouth Shipyard inside Carl’s and shut down temporary business. At the time, the Spencers estimated the loss of inventory and property damage at $ 200,000.
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Carl reopened in just two months, amid a compassionate help from the community to raise funds for the 17 employees the Spencers were forced to temporarily lay off. Bringing back customers in March 2017, Carl’s launched a new LED facade and lighting, a third cash register, a deli box extension, as well as new plasterboard and concrete flooring.
“The way the community supported this, personally, touched me so much,” said Carla Spencer. ” I could not believe it. They supported us throughout the process.
Thinking of his favorite memories, a smiling Jim Spencer said, “We’ve seen a lot of families grow up. Little babies, kids, watching them become teenagers, going to college, coming to work for us. We have seen a lot of changes.
Who are the new owners?
A former chef at the Black Trumpet Bistro in Portsmouth, John Flintosh has been a chef for nearly two decades. He has spent the past six years as Managing Director of Carl’s, adding the title of Managing Director of Golden Harvest two years ago.
In the three weeks since they took over the two companies, the Flintoshes have started to operate. As Thanksgiving approaches, the first of many turkey orders began last week.
“It’s a lot, but we are happy to keep people happy and we are very grateful for the opportunity they have given us,” said Juliana Flintosh, who also works as a reading specialist at Coe-Brown. Northwood Academy in New Hampshire. “I mean, we’re first-time business owners and it’s a big responsibility, but we’re both thrilled to have the chance to do well with them. “
As they walked the cobbled stretch between Carl’s and Golden Harvest, the Spencers shared their confidence in the Flintoshes, relishing the fact that the businesses will continue to be family-friendly for years to come.
Managing payroll, ordering goods, managing employees, obtaining licenses are some of the few less than easy “waves in the pool” that come with ownership, Spencer said. Not yet three weeks into their tenure, however, he said the Flintoshes easily learned the ins and outs of ownership.
“It’s good because it’s a great relief to have it passed to the people who are responsible,” he said.