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Roy Martel and his wife Marie stand in front of the Candia General Store. While a fire forced the shop to close in November, the Martels hope to have the store back up and running in May. (BENJAMIN C. KLEIN/Union Leader Correspondent)

Candia steps up for store owners after fire

CANDIA -- As the elderly couple who owns the Candia General Store works to reopen after a fire closed it in November, the community has rallied around the pair to ensure they make it through the hard times.

Shelves that once stood stocked with items remain barren after a fire forced the Candia General Store to temporarily close in November. Despite delays, the elderly couple that owns the store is working to reopen it in May. BENJAMIN C. KLEIN 

The Martels have been a fixture in Candia since buying the store about 25 years ago. The store itself has been open since before the Great Depression.

"The fire closed the store, and our house is attached to the store and smoke damage completely ruined the house. We are in a trailer in the driveway of our store right now waiting for the insurance to come through," Marie Martel said.

Marie said the couple lost their primary source of income and bills are stacking up. Both said that without the help of people in Candia and Deerfield, their situation would be much worse.

"Our daughter has set up a fund for us, and people have been very, very generous. The outpouring from the community has been nice. We have had local people give us venison because they know Roy likes it. People have come by to cook meals. It has been overwhelming," Marie said.

Roy, a retired U.S. Marine, said area residents appear to be repaying the generosity the Martels had shown before the fire.

"I can't tell you how many times I have left the store to go help someone in town who has broken down, or how many gas cans I lost to people coming in need of gas. I always told them to return them, but they never did," Roy said.

The main issues with the insurance delay and the reopening of the store is a dispute over lost income and a problem arising from the age of their house

"The house is 200 years old, and there are code issues that have to be addressed," Marie said.

Candia Police Chief Mike McGillen said he decided to get the word out about the Martels' plight after seeing what he felt was an insufficient response from the community to help them.

"I just think the General Store is a landmark here in the community," he said. "I frequented the store myself, and I enjoy their storytelling and their views of the community. And I meet residents in there. It brings back the days of the rustic small town environment. "

McGillen said the fire took away a place where residents can gather, socialize and catch up on local gossip.

"They are great people, just down to earth nice people," McGillen said of the Martels.

McGillen's efforts have not gone unnoticed.

"Mike has been fantastic," Marie said. "He is just a really good guy. He has stopped by since it happened to check on us, he is just a very caring person."

To help her parents get by until the insurance money comes in, the Martel's daughter Jeannette Chevere of Dedham, Mass., has set up a fund to support them on that can be accessed by typing in Candia General Store in the search bar.

"This has been very stressful, my parents are elderly and my father has some health issues and their store is their only means of support, but the response from the community has been phenomenal. My parents are very lucky they have a very loyal group of customers that have become very close to the family over the years," Chevere said.

Despite all the problems associated with getting the store back up and running, the Martels said they are hoping to reopen by May 1.

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