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 are local to the area, 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, artwork, 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. Spirits are now sold at the store as well.
In the fall of 2021, the store began another transformation with the underpinnings of the store completely renovated with a new foundation, beams, and increased structural integrity. This was done to prepare the store for the future expansion of adding additional floors, as the business has outgrown its current space. The kitchen was tripled in size to accommodate the 1500% increase in food sales and great deal of new equipment was purchased to accommodate the tremendous amount of food the store sells in five months. A dream of Tom and Sandys was to have a roof top bar and that became a reality in June of 2022. The Golden Road Yacht Club opened for the first time in June of 2022 and was a huge hit.
With all the changes that have taken place and are proposed, Tom and Sandy decided a marketing revamp was needed and hired the local team at Designlab to help them accomplish this goal. After lots of discussion and soul searching it was decided the name North Woods Trading Post no longer was a fair representation of what the store had become and will grow to be. With the popularity of the Golden Road Yacht Club and plans for future growth and marina addition, the store needed a name that would represent where it is located with a nod to the local history of the area. It was with all that in mind we decided the name should become Golden Road Crossing. Designlab offered many options, but we all agreed it seemed to best fit the store and all it is about to become. After all, it is the only place the Golden Road and the Baxter State Park Road come together and Golden Road Crossing made a great deal of sense.
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 Katahdin Region.
Their two children, Matt, a Tugboat Captain for Belfast Tug Company in Belfast Maine, and Emilie, a former FIS alpine ski coach and now bartender, love the area as well, and spend as much time there as possible. Matt became engaged to Skye on top of Katahdin and for their fifth anniversary backpacked in the backcountry of Baxter State Park. They now have two young daughters who love the outdoors as well. Emilie has worked with us for years and oversees all the home-made baked goods and the mastermind behind all the drinks at our new bar, The Golden Road Yacht Club. Dillan, Emilie’s fiancé is the night Manager at the store as well. Sandy and Tom adopted three labradoodles, all brothers, and they spend their days at the store or on the lake. In the off-season Sandy manages Bullwinkle’s Restaurant at Sugarloaf and Tom manages Tuning and Repair at the Downhill Supply Company at Sugarloaf.