SWANVILLE — When Rob Newcomb handed over the keys to Swan Lake Grocery to John P. Wentworth April 2, he was just short of his 45th anniversary owning the store. Newcomb and his wife, Deb, took over the business June 1, 1977. He told The Republican Journal that, while it was hard to give up the store, it was time.

“I’ll be 65 in May, and it’s basically been 50 weeks a year, many times seven days a week, and I’m ready to enjoy some time, enjoy my life and travel,” he said.

Even before he bought the store, at age 20, Newcomb worked there in the summers from the time he was 12 when his family would come from Massachusetts to their camp on Swan Lake. At that time, Newcomb said, the store was just a single story with wooden floors and gas was sold out front. Since then, the gas pumps have moved across the road and the Newcombs have made many additions to the store over the years.

At 16, Newcomb moved to Maine to live with an aunt and uncle in Hampden and finished high school there. It was then that he formed the idea of buying the grocery store near his parents’ summer camp. “It was my dream, that was what I wanted to do,” he said.

He also owned Brooks IGA and a store in Belfast for a while and sold his store in Lincoln, called Steaks’n Stuff, on the same day as the Swan Lake business. The Lincoln store was sold to its manager, Diane Champion.

From left, Jeremy Rankin, Amanda Wentworth, Rob Newcomb, Deb Newcomb, John P Wentworth, Rhonda Wentworth, John L Wentworth, Sarah Clar and, Jason Clark pose as the Newcombs officially hand over ownership of Swan Lake Grocery to John P. and Rhonda Wentworth April 2. Courtesy of Wentworth Family Stores

The Swanville store has also faced some challenges, he recalled, including a fire that resulted when a driver lost control of his truck and crashed into the building in October 2020. Andrew McHugh of South Bethlehem, New York, was killed and his vehicle exploded, causing extensive damage to the store. The business rebuilt and was open again the beginning of March 2021.

When he began to think about selling Swan Lake Grocery, Newcomb said, he had three potential buyers in mind. Of those, the Wentworths were the first to approach him about a sale. “They have a strong desire to have it, and they’re from the community and so things all seemed to fit for me and them.” The store was never formally listed for sale, he said.

Amanda Wentworth, the new manager of Swan lake Grocery, and daughter of new owners John P. and Rhonda Wentworth, emailed a statement on behalf of the family. “The Wentworth family would like to say congratulations to Rob and Deb on their retirement. They have been at Swan Lake Grocery for over 44 years and have had a positive and lasting impact on the community and all those who have worked with them. We look forward to continuing to serve the community with our great staff at all locations.”

Newcomb said he and his wife will continue to live in Swanville, but after taking the summer to relax, they plan to travel wherever their fancy takes them. They are grateful for all the support they have received over the years. “We appreciate everything everyone has done, we’ve loved to be part of the community, we’re still going to be part of the community. Community means a lot to us, and we just thank everybody, not only Swanville, but the surrounding areas for supporting us and our business and without them we couldn’t have done it.”