Twenty years ago, a young Hannah Tetreault and her friend sold strawberries and blueberries off of a card table at the intersection of Mountain and Harpswell Neck roads in Harpswell.

Business boomed. Before long, her parents, Ray and Violet Tetreault, started adding vegetables from their garden. Then they brought in corn and produce grown by other farmers. The spot became known as Vegetable Corner. For the first five or six years, the Tetreaults had two tables, two umbrellas, and a little shed by the side of the road. “When it rained, we sold out of the back of a station wagon. Or the rain would put us out of business for the day,” recalls Ray.

Then, “people started asking for more.” Sandwiches. Seafood. They didn’t want to go miles up the Harpswell peninsulas to the supermarkets in Brunswick. “So we built this garage about five years ago,” says Ray, gesturing around the shop. “We never put a car in here. We put in some equipment, and the first thing you know, I had a meat case.”

Neighborhood stores dot the coast of Maine, providing convenient stops for milk, bread, bait, coffee, snacks, aspirin, soda, sunscreen, mayo, a hot dog, slice of pizza-you name it. Sometimes the offerings are surprisingly diverse, given the size of the shop.

But Vegetable Corner stands apart for what it doesn’t carry. You won’t find much plastic or packaged stuff. No Cheerios, no canned soup, no knickknacks. What it does offer will provide enough sustenance for weeks and please many a discriminating eater.

People from all over the far-flung community of Harpswell (the town has 218 miles of coastline) shop here for fresh-caught fish, meats, local produce, whole peanuts in a barrel, fancy Asiago or standard cheddar cheese, bacon, granola, and made-to-order sandwiches.

They come for the shop’s homemade items, such as split pea soup, black bean and corn salad, mango salsa, pastrami or one of Ray’s seven varieties of kielbasa and sausage. They come for the fresh bakery items, including bread, all made on site.

“The quality of everything you get here is absolutely first-rate,” says Hugh Hardcastle, a retiree who lives on Bailey Island. The trip is a bit out of his way, but he shops here three or four times a week because, he says, “it’s a special place.”

Packaged items include Wicked Joe’s Coffee, Raye’s Mustard, Maine Maple candy, Casco Bay Soap, and Morse’s sauerkraut. The eggs are from Two Coves Farm on Neils Point, just minutes down the road. “I like to stress the local as much as possible,” Ray says.

He and his wife Violet live literally three steps away from the store, in a small cape-style home. The garage that now houses Vegetable Corner looks like a cottage. Last summer, Ray added a room at the front for vegetables, and he gussied up the outside. The building now has olive green clapboards and red, scalloped trim.

Vegetable Corner, “Veggie Corner” to most, has been a success since the berry-selling days. But the expansions have made the business volume consistent and year-round. People come and go, in 4×4’s on their way to construction or clamming, in Volvos or sports cars en route to the Harpswell Garden Club or their cove-side homes, picking up baloney, Swiss cheese, crabmeat, olives.

Violet makes all the soups. Customer James McLoughlin, 27 years a citizen of Harpswell Neck, wants to make sure there’s no mistake: “Vi is a soup genius,” he says. He knows of a friend in Topsham who regularly makes the 20-minute drive on Fridays for her haddock chowder.

Ray works 10 to 12 hours a day, six days a week. Theresa Catlin, his daughter, works nearly as hard, whipping up brownies, bread, cookies and muffins in the commercial bakery in the room behind the meat counter. She loves this job, she says. She’s baked for 13 years. “We have a lot of loyal local customers, and a lot of out-of-town customers.”

Bins of fresh, colorful vegetables take over the front alcove. In the spring, a box of foraged fiddleheads sits among the regular offerings. In the summertime, this room and the tables outside burst with produce from Maine farms.

At the meat counter, Ray serves “people from all walks for life, all sections of Harpswell.” The owner/butcher learned his trade from his father, who ran a neighborhood market and meat shop in downtown Brunswick, and from working in food service at Bowdoin College. He’d like to add a smokehouse to his business some day.

He greets everyone by name and banters easily, but with few words, for his hands are always busy. And he wants everyone to feel comfortable in his store. “I don’t get involved in politics,” he says.

Without Vegetable Corner, Dick Reagan of Gun Point Road would have to drive 10 miles to a supermarket. His trip here is less than five. “It’s local, they carry good food, the selection of fish and meat is quite good, and the people are friendly,” he says.

Barbara Allen of South Harpswell is another fan. “It’s a small place, but they have a little bit of everything,” she says. Her companion points to the brownies topped with crushed Heath Bars. “These are probably the best brownies I’ve ever had.”

Nancy Heiser is an independent writer and editor based in Brunswick, Maine. She’s written for many national and regional publications.