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Best of Maine: Shopping & Shelf

Publisher Partner DownEast Magazine

We periodically publish content from DownEast Magazine, The Magazine of Maine. Dedicated to evoking and illuminating the spirit and culture of Maine at its best.

Antiques Shop

Indian Trail Antiques
23 Indian Trail Rd., Newcastle. 207-586-5000

Growing up in Newcastle, Charles Harris used to ride his bike 7 miles to the Montsweag Flea Market in Woolwich, buy a handful of treasures for a buck apiece, and then turn around and sell them to his friends at a 100 percent mark-up. These days, antiques lovers, dealers, and even the hagglers of the History network Down East Dickering come to Harris' 15,000-square-foot, four-story barn, where he has created a museum-like experience, organizing his finds into exhibits by type or vintage: antique toys, modern mid-century furniture, man-cave automobilia, and more vie for your attention (go ahead — touch that 10-foot-tall Maine black bear; he won't bite). Tools and farming equipment are housed in an adjacent smaller barn, and Harris displays architectural salvage in the carriage house. Still a fourth building houses a gleaming 1941 Ford Super Deluxe convertible; Harris plans to add even more classic cars in the future. "People come in and say they've never seen another shop like it," Harris says. "What's most satisfying is when people who have been in the business their whole lives stop in the office and tell me the same thing."

Men's Shop

Joseph's
410 Fore St., Portland. 207-773-4454

A fixture of the Old Port since before it was the Old Port, Joseph's continues to introduce new, exciting, and stylish tailored menswear every season, but the made-to-measure shirts and suits set this store apart. Joseph's can design, cut, and sew an ensemble made from the fabric of your choice. Warning: once you've worn a custom-made piece, you might never buy off the rack again.

Women's Shop

Zane
41 Exchange St., Portland. 207-420-1800

Not so long ago, the words "Maine" and "style" only appeared in the same sentence as a joke. The Old Port boutique Zane proves that Mainers can be chic without sacrificing their casual lifestyle. Owner Sara Bertland keeps up with trends, while carrying pieces that are timeless, comfortable, and appealing to a range of women no matter their age or size (says one fan: "Her jeans are amazing and make your butt look phenomenal!"). A designer herself, Bertland stocks the store so shoppers can cobble together an outfit in one stop: everything's here, from slacks and tops to shoes, jewelry, and scarves. Zane also is simply a pleasure to visit: the space is bright, sunny, and fresh, the clothing displays are inspiring, and Bertland is welcoming, chatty, and helpful.

Kitchenware

Fletchers' Mill Pepper Mills
1687 New Vineyard Rd., New Vineyard. 855-535-3824

Pepper mills are the workhorses of the kitchen. Nearly everything we cook, from simple scrambled eggs to rich spaghetti alla carbonara to porterhouse steak, is finished with a liberal grind of pepper. Fletchers' Mill's pepper mills keep up with the demand: they're sturdy, easy to fill, and most important, the mechanism is easy to adjust with a twist of the top nut and locks in place for a consistent grind. As fine as all the mills' features are, however, we admit we fell for their looks first. Made by Maine Wood Concepts, the largest custom woodturning shop in the country, the mills come in such a variety of styles, sizes, and luscious colors that we've looked for excuses to own more than one. Luckily, there are salt mills too.

Toy Store

At Once All Agog
28 Main St, Cornish. 207-625-3322

This anchor of Cornish's Main Street is so piled with playthings that they spill out onto the sidewalk (where there ought to be a hitching post for all the colorful, bouncy Rody horses). Find everything from Maine-made wooden toys to techy learning aids to plush dolls to cool indie board games — and a staff that's geeky about everything on the shelves. Worth stopping, if only to ogle the store's whimsical window displays.

Bookstore

Elements
265 Main St., Biddeford. 207-710-2011

It doesn't have the state's widest selection, but the new and used titles at Biddeford's Elements are impeccably curated. It's also Maine's only bookstore where you can read your purchase while enjoying a pour-over coffee, a pint of craft beer, or charcuterie plate. Elements pulls off the bookstore/café/bar concept with high style.

Wellness Retreat

Whitehead Light Station Yoga/Mindfulness Courses
Whitehead Island. 207-200-7957

Meditate and enjoy the view at Whitehead Light Station. We knew something was happening on Whitehead Island when blissed-out readers started calling to say we had to check it out. So we did, and yeah, we see what the fuss is about. Since 2008, the nonprofit-run Whitehead Light Station has offered three- to five-day enrichment programs in the comfy keeper's quarters of the 1807 lighthouse, on a wooded and wave-battered isle off Spruce Head, some 8 miles south of Rockland. Yoga and mindfulness have always been part of the mix, and this year's offerings include courses on stress-relieving meditation and mindful couples communication. We can't imagine a better environment in which to relax and recenter.

Retro Furniture

Modern Underground
103R Main St., Waterville. 207-200-1290

Part of what makes shopping at Modern Underground such fun is its funky location: you slip behind the brick storefronts lining Waterville's Main Street, pass the chain-link fence, go down the flight of concrete stairs, and step through the massive red industrial wooden door into a 3,800-square-foot windowless basement with a rough concrete floor and an unfinished ceiling that tends to squeak with footfalls from above. The subterranean space is filled wall-to-wall with 1930s–1970s–vintage designer chairs, tables, tableware and kitchenware, stereos, lighting fixtures, and other period doodads. Owners Lisa and Brian Kallgren have been scouring garage sales and auctions for American, Northern European, and Italian mid-century pieces for something like 20 years — long before retro was en vogue — and reselling the pieces to customers around the world. Lisa refinishes many of the wood and upholstered pieces herself, while Brian claims responsibility for the "crazy" stereo collection stacked against the back wall, including a pair of 1964 JBL speakers — each one as big as a woodstove and, at 250 pounds, nearly as heavy. One savvy-shopping couple recently flew up from Miami to purchase a 10-foot Widdicomb cherry dining table and matching chairs for $2,400. It's a set that Brian suggests could have fetched 10 times that amount elsewhere. Those retro prices? Yeah, we like those too.

Florist

Fairwinds Florist
5 Main St., Blue Hill. 207-374-5621

Blue Hill's Fairwinds Florist is lush with a touch of funky. Not only does Cullen Schneider design bright and generous arrangements at this Blue Hill floral institution, she also grows three-quarters of the stock herself (in peak season) at her nearby farm. Fairwinds shares space with superb Black Dinah Chocolatiers, making for pretty unbeatable one-stop gift shopping — never mind the quirky ArtBox next to the counter, an old cigarette machine that now dispenses locally made, roughly cigarette-box–shaped mini masterpieces.

Readers' Choice

You like flannel shirts and peasant skirts, and you're not above a trip to a big box store.

Bargain Store

Renys
Seventeen locations across Maine.

Florist

Seasons Downeast
62 Meadow St., Rockport. 207-236-4147

Home Improvement Store

Lowe's
Thirteen locations across Maine.

Sporting Goods/Outdoor Store

L.L.Bean
1 Freeport Village Station, Freeport. 207-552-7772
534 Stillwater Ave., Bangor. 207-942-0146
150 High St., Ellsworth. 207-667-7753

Shoe Store

Lamey Wellehan
Six locations across Maine

Gift Store

Gifts at 136
136 Main St., Damariscotta. 207-563-1011

Place to Buy Women's Clothing

Mexicali Blues
Six locations across Maine.

Place to Buy Men's Clothing

L.L.Bean
1 Freeport Village Station, Freeport. 207-552-7772
534 Stillwater Ave., Bangor. 207-942-0146
150 High St., Ellsworth. 207-667-7753

Gym/Fitness Center

Ocean Blue Fitness
64 Chapman St., Damariscotta. 207-563-2668

Book Store

Longfellow Books
1 Monument Way, Portland. 207-772-4045

Spa

Sprout Bodyworks
328 Main St., Rockland. 207-706-6708

Toy Store

Tree House
47 Exchange St., Portland. 207-775-6133

Used Car Dealer

O'Connor's Motors
199 Riverside Dr., Augusta. 207-622-3191

New Car Dealer

Charlie's Motor Mall
10 locations in Augusta and Winthrop. 888-292-7751

Architect

KW Architects
Wells. 207-332-9199

Builder

Hazelwood Handyman
10 Granite Heights Rd., Kennebunkport. 207-967-0003

Furniture Store [tie]

Dow Furniture
280 Atlantic Hwy., Waldoboro. 207-832-6363

FX Marcotte
132 Lincoln St., Lewiston. 207-783-8593
130 Western Ave., South Portland. 207-775-5381

Interior Designer

Karen Gallagher
207-650-6482

Landscaper [Tie]

Gnome
305 US-1, Falmouth. 207-781-2955

Farley & Son Landscaping
211 West St., Rockport. 207-236-4787

 

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