North Woods Trading Post originally began as the Millinocket Lake Store in 1948, owned by the Woodworth family of Millinocket. The store was an outfitter of sorts, offering camp and hunting/fishing supplies as well as canoe rentals. The store was part of the Millinocket Lake Camps, situated next to the store. The Boynton family eventually purchased the store and the cabins/homestead next door. The Boynton family expanded the store to have a lunch counter and along with that, the sale of beer and wine. In 1981 the Bacons purchased the store from the Boyntons and expanded the store further to include souvenirs, books, and logo clothing. The outfitter portion of the store was scaled back at this point. The Bacons renamed the store the North Woods Trading Post and the name continues today. After 31 years, the Bacons decided to retire from operating the store and sold it to Tom and Sandy Bell in the spring of 2012.
With this transfer of ownership the store would begin to again go through another metamorphosis of sorts as the Bells began to implement the many improvements the store needed to appropriately meet the needs of today’s customers. A camping, fishing, and hiking gear section has been added to the store, and the souvenirs brought in are unique, of high quality, and many times made in Maine or New England. The food offering has been revamped using fresh ingredients and an ever-changing array of options. Local artists are featured at the store offering photography, art work, jewelry, and hand thrown-pottery. The beer and wine selection is improved and greatly expanded with many craft beers and an excellent selection of wines. The store will continue to expand to meet the needs of the many varied customers that shop there.
North Woods Trading Post is the culmination of Tom and Sandy’s backgrounds, love of the area, and the great Maine outdoors.
Tom was born and raised in the area and his love of the Katahdin Lakes Region kept him working in his “backyard” all of his adult life. Tom started as a white water raft guide in 1993. He acquired five Maine Guide licenses in the fourteen years he was a raft guide on the Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers. In 2006, Tom took an opportunity to work as a ranger in Baxter State Park. His first year he ran Abol Campground, and then become a back country ranger at the famous Chimney Pond Campground at the base of Katahdin. His tenure there ranged from running the campground to Black Hawk rescues on the famed Knife Edge. Tom obtained his Wilderness First Responder designation while guiding on the river and maintained this status as a ranger in Baxter State Park.
Sandy was born and raised in southern Maine loving the outdoors, with many hours spent sailing, skiing, and hiking. She attended Bentley College (University) and earned degrees in finance and accounting. Her love of Maine brought her back to Southern Maine to live and work. While working for an insurance company in Portland she achieved many customer service awards, including the highest achievement of the President’s Award. Sandy’s true passions were the mountains and skiing at Sugarloaf, which was where Tom and Sandy met. Both loving the outdoors, they spend many hours skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and fishing. This combined love of the outdoors led them to purchase the store in 2012 to meet the needs of outdoor enthusiasts visiting and living in the Millinocket area. Their two children, Matt, a mate on large tug in the gulf of Mexico, and Emilie, a current graduate of Fort Lewis in Durango Colo., love the area, as well, and spend as much time there as possible. Since Emilie’s Graduation she has joined us working full time managing the store and baking all our delicious sweets. It is truly becoming a family affair!