Best of Maine: Shopping
Your guide to men's clothing, silk-screened pillows, dog treats, stone cabinet knobs, and a style consultant.
Photography by Mark Fleming
Men’s Clothing Store
Portland Dry Goods Co.
237 Commercial St., Portland 207-699-5575; portlanddrygoods.com
With a new name and revamped selection, Portland Dry Goods (formerly McKenzie Tribe) is the hippest supplier of designer menswear in Maine. Admittedly there isn’t much competition, but who needs it when GQ says it's one of America’s top twenty-five men’s clothing stores. Owner David Hodgkins’ three-headed beast in a wool cardigan (Portland Dry Goods, David Wood, and Barbour) have helped define Portland men’s fashion. Each store has a unique collection to offer men of any age, but Portland Dry Goods, with its well-curated selection of youthful, slim-fitting, casual yet sophisticated labels, such as GANT by Michael Bastian, Naked & Famous Jeans, and SLVDR, stands out in a city that takes pride in its trendiness.
Fine Artist Made
9 Lupine Way, Perry 207-853-9504; fineartistmade.com
Patrick Mealey and Joyce Jackson bring to furniture design the same blend of traditional aesthetics and clean, contemporary lines that they employ in the historic kitchen renovations they've completed in and around Eastport. A generous round surface makes the Mill Cove Table their most practical side table. It gets its sophisticated whimsy from the legs. Another of our favorites, Roque Bluffs, a pedestal table, has tapered legs hugged by curved supports. Made of poplar, the tables are named for two of Down East Maine’s most beguiling landmarks.
P.O. Box 1387, Waldoboro 207-354-0013; customcordage.biz
You’ve probably noticed the colorful rope doormats that have cropped up on porches all over Maine. They are made from floating ground line, which lobstermen were ordered to stop using for setting their traps a few years ago as part of an effort to reduce whale entanglements. The Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation has taken more than a million pounds of the stuff off lobstermen’s hands, and Custom Cordage, a rope maker, was among the first businesses to acquire some and transform it into something new. Just as durable and weatherproof as the doormats, these cheery and very practical totes are great for organizing and lugging almost anything, indoors or out.
Studio E Flett Design
Gorham 207-839-7187; erinflett.com
Happy designs and playful colors are the hallmark of Erin Flett’s style. A graphic designer, Flett makes her pillow covers with the soft, slightly textured cotton fabric known as reproduction barkcloth, a contemporary version of the Asian material once made from tree bark. Many of her hand-drawn patterns are inspired by her surroundings, managing to be rustic and hip at once. Among them: Ashley Pine, with its fir trees and cones, which was created for a friend’s Sebago Lake camp. Squirrel, a bushy-tailed critter nibbling an acorn, is Flett’s take on a regular visitor to her backyard. Flett’s true heart, though, is in her boldly abstract and sophisticated patterns, like Coffee Rings and Wind. The stories behind the designs, which you can read online at Flett’s Etsy shop, is nearly as much fun as perking up your living room with a few of her pillows.
Consignment Shopping Destination
Bargain-hunters are a particularly enthusiastic breed of shopper. They love the pursuit of good-as-new items as much as they love a great find. With three consignment shops specializing in women’s fashions and accessories, Gardiner’s historic Water Street has become their happy hunting ground. The veteran is Raggamuffins (279 Water St.; 207-582-2886; raggamuffinsconsignmentshop.com), known for gently used clothing from Abercrombie & Fitch, the Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, and other big-name brands. Across the street, the Girltrend Shop (236 Water St.; 207-512-5442; girltrendshop.com) draws from the same fashion lineages, but the very nature of consignment shopping guarantees that the selection is entirely different. Sweet Love Boutique (289 Water St.; 207-512-5859; sweetloveboutique.com), meanwhile, specializes in designer wedding gowns from the likes of Vera Wang, Monique Lhuillier, and Oleg Cassini. Even if you’re not in the market for a wedding gown, Sweet Love is worth a visit. It’s also a tearoom with yummy pastries, making it a great place to rest your shopping-weary feet.
Chicken Jerky TriPom Chews
Bath 888-602-4443; tripomchews.net
Alarmed by FDA warnings about made-in-China chicken jerky products for dogs, Autumn Gullifer and Ken Bryant began making jerky for their three Pomeranians a few years ago, a project that quickly evolved into a business, TriPom Chews. The couple personally hand trim and slice each piece of jerky from premium, USDA Grade A chicken breasts, which they purchase from Maine restaurant suppliers. “There are no preservatives, no additives, no salt, no fillers — nothing,” Gullifer says. The jerky comes in two flavors — plain, which is chicken and only chicken, and marinated, which contains blackstrap molasses. Kitty needn’t be jealous; TriPom makes mini strips for her, too.
Stone Cabinet Knobs
Bourne Designs and Granite Garden Gallery
124 Whales Back Rd., Sullivan 207-422-8926; bournedesigns.info/contact.html
Obadiah Bourne Buell’s beach and river stone drawer pulls are a tactile pleasure, polished to a satiny smoothness by the river or ocean from which they were plucked, then oiled by Buell to enhance their color. Like a beachcomber’s treasures, they are evocative of Maine’s natural ambiance. The pink granite knobs may stir memories of the sunbaked Otter Cliffs at Acadia National Park, the brick-colored pulls, Red Beach in Calais. We favor the variegated stones — gray orbs veined with white quartz or speckled with pink feldspar. Each stone is fitted with a copper spacer and standard screw hardware, so they’ll fit most cabinet drawers.
P.O. Box 657, Bar Harbor 207-812-1888; rosebyrddesigns.com
Danielle Byrd lets the wood do the talking when she chisels and sands her ladles, salad forks, spoons, and spatulas. She uses a variety of woods — red oak, honeysuckle, dogwood, whatever fallen or pruned branches her friends and neighbors offer. Recently, they’ve been apple tree trimmings, resulting in tools with dramatically contrasting tones of russet and blonde. She seldom uses power tools, preferring the slower process of working with hand tools, and she preserves the branches’ natural bends and curves, as well as their knots, cracks, and blemishes. “I make sure everything flows and all the angles feel right,” she says. “If you listen to the wood, it tells you what it wants to be.”
Old Town 207-659-0268; madderroot.com
Working out of a basement studio in Old Town, Christina Lannan and Janyce Boynton have put their shared love of sewing to good effect, making elegant silk-screened kitchen linens like tea towels and napkins. Their drawstring produce bags are so pretty you might want to use them for more exciting tasks than toting groceries (a gift bag, perhaps?). The elegant graphics, rendered in water-based inks that produce earthy yet bright hues, are nature-inspired. Standouts include cinnamon fern, sand dollars, and the silhouette of a staghorn sumac, its branches bare except for the distinctive fruit. Christina’s husband, Andy, has recently joined the crew, and all three are involved in all aspects of the business, from sketching to printing to sewing to shipping.
Four Kitschy Souvenirs
1. Maine Woodsman’s Weather Stick, Maine Line Products (297 Main St., Greenwood; 207-875-2522; mainelineproducts.com). Hang this twig on an outside wall and get the forecast from the direction of its curve: up for fair weather, down for foul.
2. Moose Poop Earrings, Mooseville (156 Main St., Farmington; 207-860-4060; mooseville.com). No moose was harmed during the hunt for these droppings, preserved by a glistening coat of lacquer. Classy!
3. Balsam Pillow, Maine Balsam Fir Products (Morse Hill Rd., West Paris; 800-522-5726; mainebalsam.com). If you could package Maine air, it would smell like one of these pillows.
4. Lobster Boxer Shorts, the Smiling Cow (41 Main St., Camden; 207-236-3351; smilingcow.com). Relax: the only people who know you’re wearing these lobster-decorated shorts already know what kind of person you are.
Image Consultant Shay Johnson
Sashay’s, 240 U.S. Rte. 1, Falmouth 207-899-1954; sashaywardrobes.com
“After more than a year of wearing maternity and nursing tops, I felt like I had lost any hint of whatever pre-pregnancy style I might have had and was tired of defaulting each morning to big baggy shirts and whatever pants were clean. That was not who I wanted to be, but I’d become unsure of how to work around my new shape, how to use today’s style, and how not to look too old or too young.
“I hire landscapers to landscape. I hire plumbers to do plumbing. I decided I needed a style consultant — and she had to be in Maine. Armed with my laptop and those search terms, I found Shay Johnson. I was prepared to go for her highest level of service, a complete wardrobe makeover, however, she recommended I opt for the complimentary in-store consultation in her shop, where we’d start with some of my pieces to get a feel for who I was, and build off from there.
“I had no idea what to expect and was a bit nervous, but I showed up with my everyday pants, a skirt, and a couple of pairs of shoes that had seen one too many salt-laden Maine winters. Shay and her staff couldn’t have been nicer. But, they were honest, too: 'Those shoes are not just worn, they’re worn out!' After evaluating me in my pieces, they got to work and put together outfits using both my clothes and stuff from around the store. They introduced me to items I wouldn’t have tried on my own, and they took pictures so I would have an album of different combinations that worked for me.
“Shay gave me as much of her time as I needed without ever feeling rushed, and I must have tried on dozens of outfits complete with accessories. She helped me simplify my morning routine and come out feeling more put together at the same time. My husband noticed the change immediately. This is the most awesome thing I’ve done for myself in a long time.”
— Becca Gildred, Down East associate marketing director
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