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Rindge

‘Lighthouse’ changes hands

After 60 years, Fogg’s Mini-Mart in Rindge to be renamed

  • After nearly 60 years in business, Foggs Mini-Mart, owned by Evelyn Fogg of Rindge, is changing hands. The business has been sold to another local businessman, Ahmad Mortada, one of the owners of North and South of the Border in Rindge.

    After nearly 60 years in business, Foggs Mini-Mart, owned by Evelyn Fogg of Rindge, is changing hands. The business has been sold to another local businessman, Ahmad Mortada, one of the owners of North and South of the Border in Rindge. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • After nearly 60 years in business, Foggs Mini-Mart, owned by Evelyn Fogg of Rindge, is transitioning to new ownership. The business has been sold to another local businessman, Ahmad Mortada, one of the owners of North and South of the Border in Rindge.

    After nearly 60 years in business, Foggs Mini-Mart, owned by Evelyn Fogg of Rindge, is transitioning to new ownership. The business has been sold to another local businessman, Ahmad Mortada, one of the owners of North and South of the Border in Rindge. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • After nearly 60 years in business, Foggs Mini-Mart, owned by Evelyn Fogg of Rindge, is transitioning to new ownership. The business has been sold to another local businessman, Ahmad Mortada, one of the owners of North and South of the Border in Rindge.

    After nearly 60 years in business, Foggs Mini-Mart, owned by Evelyn Fogg of Rindge, is transitioning to new ownership. The business has been sold to another local businessman, Ahmad Mortada, one of the owners of North and South of the Border in Rindge. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • After nearly 60 years in business, Foggs Mini-Mart, owned by Evelyn Fogg of Rindge, is changing hands. The business has been sold to another local businessman, Ahmad Mortada, one of the owners of North and South of the Border in Rindge.
  • After nearly 60 years in business, Foggs Mini-Mart, owned by Evelyn Fogg of Rindge, is transitioning to new ownership. The business has been sold to another local businessman, Ahmad Mortada, one of the owners of North and South of the Border in Rindge.
  • After nearly 60 years in business, Foggs Mini-Mart, owned by Evelyn Fogg of Rindge, is transitioning to new ownership. The business has been sold to another local businessman, Ahmad Mortada, one of the owners of North and South of the Border in Rindge.

RINDGE — Locals have long referred to the intersection of Routes 119 and 202 as “Fogg’s Corner,” in honor of Fogg’s Mini-Mart, which has been an institution there for 60 years. Some may soon be calling it something new, though, as business owner Evelyn Fogg has sold the store and will be moving on to other ventures. The business will remain, she said in an interview at the former Fogg’s on Tuesday, but it will be under new ownership and a new name.

At the end of July, Fogg officially turned over the reins to Ahmad Mortada, a familiar face to those who shop in local convenience stores. Mortada and family members, including his brother, Jamal Mortada, own North of the Border, which was transformed from a small house and marina into a convenience store and food market in 2006, as well as West of the Border, which opened in 2010 in Rindge. Now, Mortada, who could not be reached for comment, will be taking over Fogg’s Mini-Mart, too, which will henceforth be called Hometown Irving, according to Fogg. She declined to comment on the purchase price of the business.

Fogg said that at the age of 72, she’s been looking to sell the business for a while now, in order to pursue other interests and, after a few months of negotiation, Fogg’s broker worked out the sale with Mortada. Fogg has remained on the premises to assist with the transition, she said, but within a few days expects to no longer be needed.

There are some things that will be changing with the new ownership, said Fogg, such as the addition of electronic price scanners at the counter, but the store and gas station will remain part of the business. Mortada has agreed to retain current staff who wish to stay or have not already obtained other part-time jobs. Current tenants of the building, including a resident that lives above the store and a barber shop that is housed in the back half of the building, will be staying, said Fogg.

It will be the end of an era for Fogg’s Corner. The store has been a gathering place in town since it was first established in the mid-50s by Newell and Annie Fogg, Evelyn Fogg’s in-laws. Their son, Willis Fogg, and Evelyn Fogg officially took the business over in the early ’60s. She and Willis raised their son, Rei, in and around the store, and Evelyn has seen innumerable young adults get their start in the working world at the store.

It’s time to move on, however, said Fogg. She plans to dust off her teaching degree and take a part-time job that will put it to use.

She’s seen the store go through a lot of changes, said Fogg. When it was first built, the store was small, with only a soda machine, potato chips and candy bars, and 25-cent packs of cigarettes for sale, with most of the business coming from the gas station.

“Over the years, the store items grew,” she said. Eventually, they outgrew the current space, and the new building was constructed, and the old Fogg’s Mini-Mart was transported down Route 119, where it would become what is now Pizza Haven.

Back when Fogg’s started expanding its inventory, there was much less competition around town, Fogg recalled. “Everything we sell can be bought other places,” she said. “That wasn’t always the case. When we started, Walmart, Hannaford, Market Basket, they weren’t even thought of. Now, the face of Rindge has changed so much, and people have lots of choices.” But Fogg’s has survived all that, she said, despite it becoming harder to make a living as a small mom-and-pop-style store. “The thing about convenience stores, is, as it says, they’re convenient. They’re meant to be a quick in and quick out.”

Fogg said she feels she will be leaving the business in good hands. “Ahmad [Mortada] is going to do a good job,” she said. “He’s enthusiastic and he knows the business.”

Residents have said that even though many of the services at the location will stay the same with the new owners, they’re sad to see Fogg’s go.

Edward Lamoureux of Rindge said that when he moved to town 32 years ago, his real estate agent had them meet at Fogg’s. That was the first time that Fogg’s was used as a waypoint for Lamoureux, but it wouldn’t be the last, he said.

“Fogg’s has been a landmark in Rindge and the gateway to Southern New Hampshire for years,” said Lamoureux. “It’s been a fuel stop, food stop, gossip stop. During snowstorms or ice storms, holidays and political events, Fogg’s is the lighthouse. It’s the rock that everyone meets at. It’s the landmark compass for us all, and we wish Evelyn Fogg the best as she moves on.”

Jim Weidner of Rindge said that he had his first real job at Fogg’s in the mid-’80s, working there as a gas station attendant for several years, starting at the age of 14. He lived only about a mile from the store, he recalled in a phone interview Wednesday, and used to ride his snowmobile to work in the winter, since he was too young for a license.

“It was really great, because I met everyone in town, pretty much,” said Weidner. “You get to know everybody, from high school kids to older people and senior citizens. There were some people that would come twice a day to get their coffee, and they would just kind of hang out. It was always that type of place.”

Working there also led to a few interesting situations, Weidner recalled, including lines of cars down both sides of the highway waiting for gas in anticipation of a hurricane with only Weidner and a newly hired college student there to handle the sudden onrush of customers. And then there was the time former Boston Celtics player David Cowens pumped his gas there and ended up filling with diesel fuel instead of gas, and was stuck at Fogg’s for several hours.

“I saw lots of stuff there over the years,” said Weidner. “It was just a place where a lot of people met. I met a lot of people there that even to this day, I probably wouldn’t know them if I hadn’t ever worked there. It was almost like an old-time gas station.”

Weidner said he wished his old boss luck with her next venture. “I’ve watched that store change a lot over the years. This is just yet another change,” he said. “I’m happy for Evelyn that she’ll be able to take it easy.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.

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