ELLSWORTH — On Friday afternoon, Linda and Hans van der Does packed their 9-year-old son Ries into the car and drove up from their home in Ogunquit.
They were coming to Ellsworth, where they’ve owned land for several years, to begin work on their recent acquisition: 112 Main St., the future home of Toko Ellsworth.
The space has been vacant since 2nd to None, a thrift and consignment store that occupied downtown for many years, moved to the Mill Mall at the end of February.
Toko Ellsworth will join three other Toko locations, two in Portland and one in Ogunquit, selling what Linda describes as an “eclectic mix” of gifts, clothing and accessories curated mainly from Southeast Asia. (Toko means “shop” in Indonesian, Linda said.)
But this will be the first time the family has owned the building they’re in, said Hans excitedly, as he hung a temporary sign in the window.
The couple have wanted to open a shop in the area for years, Linda said. But properties that came up for sale or lease were too expensive, occupied, in poor shape or required buying the business along with the real estate. The call about 112 Main St. was unexpected, Linda said, but once they saw the space “We were sold.”
“Ellsworth chose us,” she continued. “We feel like here you become part of the community. There’s a good vibe about it.”
The couple are excited to be part of a community with year-round commercial activity, Linda said.
“You see the signs of things to come,” she added. “We were in Portsmouth before Portsmouth was Portsmouth,” referring to the now-shuttered Toko Indo in Portsmouth.
At one point, the family had shops ranging from Key West, Fla., to Portland and Provincetown, Mass. But they’re down to three locations, all in Maine. Ellsworth will be the fourth.
“We’re trying to scale down and be more in one area,” Linda said. They plan to eventually build on their land in Ellsworth, she added, and will enroll their son in summer camp in the area this year.
Toko Ellsworth is on track to open by Memorial Day, Linda said, provided staffing works out. (“We’re hiring!” she added). The store will offer clothing, gifts and accessories curated from Linda’s yearly trips to Bali, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. There will be a separate “sock shop,” which the couple calls a “store within a store” selling only novelty socks.
“We really make a point not to go to the factories,” Linda added. “We go to family-run businesses.”