Put Maine Under Your Tree
The pleasure of shopping in Maine is a gift in itself. Instead of fighting the crowds at the malls and big-box stores, an excursion through these classic Maine institutions will keep you in the holiday spirit while satisfying everyone on your shopping list.
Kittery Trading Post
Explore this recently remodeled, 100,000-square-foot outfitter and discover a new taxidermy display featuring roughly fifteen Maine animals, including a full-sized moose and black bear. Sweetest of all is the brand new Fudge Shop featuring, coffee, roasted nuts, and twenty-four flavors of the sweet stuff in seasonal flavors including cranberry-nut and pumpkin-pie. Buy a pound for $10 and get a quarter-pound free. Tuck it in a travel mug made of recycled lobster shells, from $9.99, new from Artful Wares of Old Town. Or stash it in a basket you made from a kit, starting at under $15. With all the new additions, it’s not hard to see why Esquire magazine recently ranked this one of the top men’s stores in the country. 301 US Route 1, Kittery, 207-439-2700.
Part of the attraction of buying a locally made, cotton canvas bag from Port Canvas is being able to purchase an identical, solid-colored bag to the one you might have bought here twenty-five years ago. For something novel, however, check out the new line of floral and nautical print bags designed in conjunction with fabric artist Jane Fraser of Yarmouth. Beginning at $95, the line features a range of bright, citrus colors and — like the company’s conventional bags — can be completely customized from pockets to trim. (Snatch a snazzy new fabric belt, $32, to match.) 9 Ocean Ave., Kennebunkport, 207-967-2717.
Famous for their whale-tale mug and fancy glazes, this world-renowned pottery studio is always creating new reasons to visit. Each year it retires certain pieces and launches new color schemes in its crystal-fired glazes. This year, the latest are a particularly stunning “Mother of Pearl,” in pure white, and “Tropical Paradise,” in amber and tourmaline green. Serving pieces make popular gifts. You’ll find serving pieces in the latest beaded style, from $34-to-more-than-$200, at the studio’s galleries here in Portland as well as in Freeport and at its production facility in rural Edgecomb. 49 Exchange St., Portland, 207-780-6727.
Maine Potters Market
A hot spot for Maine pottery, this member-owned co-operative recently added three new artists, bringing the total to fifteen — the highest number ever. “We put out a call to artists and got quite a few applicants,” says market manager Anne Samson. “The other members in the co-op chose who they want, so a lot of the new work is different from what we’ve had in the store before.” Joining the co-op this year are potters Cathy Schroeder Hammond, of Lyman; Wendy Grace Twitchell, of Kennebunkport; and Tim Christensen, of Roque Bluff. New works range from heavily decorated black-and-white carved porcelain to soft painted, pastel fairy images. Pottery prices start at $18. 376 Fore St., Portland, 207-774-1633.
Folks used to scaling two sets of stairs to the third-floor of this outdoor retailer in search of home furnishings, now have a store all to themselves. The newly opened L.L. Bean Home Store, across the park from the flagship store, offers two levels of traditional home décor along with a new collection of antiques and Maine crafts, whether your shopping list includes a vintage weathervane or a three-foot-long carved wooden fish. One of the most interesting one-of-a-kind items is the hand-carved basswood and red oak bed, its posts featuring carvings of two birds, a fish, and a turtle. The headboard is carved with a scene of a wooded cabin by a lake. Retail prices for these one-of-a-kind-items range from $15 to $16,000 for the bed. In addition you’ll find an expanded line of quilts, rugs, lamps, and furniture. 12 Nathan Nye St., Freeport, 877-755-2326.
For the first time in more than a year, this award-winning furniture designer has launched a new collection. Even more unusual, the latest line is the first to feature ash as a primary wood. “The whole line has a Danish, modern flair,” says company creative director Allison Vallin. “Showing it in a lighter wood makes the grain shine.” Beginning at $1,500 for a dining chair and $6,000 for a sideboard, the new Meridian Collection features bowed legs and a low profile and, like the furniture maker’s other offerings, is guaranteed for the life of the original owner. Call ahead, and schedule a tour of the company’s Auburn manufacturing site. 149 Main St., Freeport, 207-865-4519.
Need more inspiration? For even more of our favorite gift ideas, click here.