By Curt Peterson
Hartland’s “BG’s”, officially became Three Corners Market, Inc. as new management took over on Jan. 1, and was immediately “closed for renovations” for six weeks.
Residents say they never realized how important the store was until it wasn’t available. Bill Gaucher, now 65, left town on an “on the road” odyssey for a month, visiting old friends and relatives around the country before returning.
Gaucher’s parents, Bob and Jane Gaucher, opened BG’s in 1980. Gaucher and Bob ran the store, and Jane kept the books. At some point an addition was added to the building, doubling the size of the store.
“We always treated people like people,” Gaucher says. “We tried to have what they needed.”
The store always came first, and Gaucher enjoyed the work. He says it was “fun most of the time. What I enjoyed most was the relationships with so many regular customers.”
His parents died of cancer fairly young, and Gaucher was on his own. Married and divorced twice, he has three sons and a daughter.
His management style evolved over time. At first he was frustrated when micro-management didn’t work. Then one day he decided to just “wing-it” – to try different ideas, listen to employees, and see what happened.
“It worked out fine,” he said. “And I’ve been a lot happier.”wBill always put the community first, according to daughter Morgan.
“Hartland was an extension of his family,” she said. “He discounted meat for the Congregational Church’s roast beef suppers, supported the Christmas dinners at the Universalist Church, took area youth out in the woods to learn about firearms, hunting, nature and tracking animals. He also coached middle school baseball.”
When an Afghan refugee came to Hartland, hosted by John Bassett, Bill welcomed him.
“Fill up his refrigerator,” said Gaucher, according to an NBC report. “Give him access or open an account for groceries, meat, whatever he needs.”
Things have not always been easy.
In 2013 Mascoma Bank built their new branch building, which required ripping up some of BG’s parking lot and temporarily covering 5 or 6 spaces with a “branch office trailer.” Morgan said BG’s revenue was seriously affected for a year, and recovery took a long time.
Ironically, Covid was a positive influence on the business, as customers avoided larger stores and came to BG’s instead. Almost everyone wore protective masks, and anti-virus measures were carried out religiously in the store. Morgan, who says she was “born and raised in the store”, after the pandemic, those customers have continued to patronize the business.
But the Three Corners intersection reconfiguration project was a “wake-up call,” Morgan said. Store access may be affected for up to a year, and Bill said he couldn’t face another rebuilding struggle.
The sale of the property and business came at just the right time.
He’s very excited about the renovated market.
“These people have done an amazing job in a huge undertaking,” he told the Mountain Times.
He has agreed to stay on at the store for an undefined period to support new manager, Ian Rose. His friends and long-time customers hope Bill’s plans include a continued relationship with the community he has supported for so long.
As Morgan says, “We’ll never see the last of Bill.”