From our contributors: this month’s plum finds in Maine shops, style, and craft.
564 Congress St., Portland. 207-805-1348
The Sock Shack has been making Portland cool from the knees down since 2015. Owned by Lori Dorr, proprietor of the much-missed ’90s shoe store Terra Firma, the Sock Shack has more than 200 styles of foot couture. There are food socks and cat socks, mod socks and goth socks, alien and unicorn and dinosaurs-breathing-fire socks. Bigfoot’s a top-seller: They’ve got him barbequing, fishing, commuting to the office, lumberjacking, boozing, nature walking (of course), and, in a vaguely political statement as poignant as it is perplexing, heading off to war. “It’s a really inexpensive way to fill that tiny little whim,” Dorr says. Indeed. Everyone I love gets socks for Christmas. Now and forever. You’re welcome. — Sara Anne Donnelly
32 Elm St., Brunswick. 207-841-4363
Inspired by the vibe of European record stores — café-like, encouraging lingering and mingling — David Kowalski opened Deep Groove Records last spring after six years slinging vinyl at Fort Andross Flea Market. Tucked into a garage-size storefront a few blocks off the main drag, the shop stocks enough high-quality obscurities to lure serious collectors — a “super clean” copy of Sun Ra’s The Saturn Singles, a still-sealed Bagpipe Blues by pipe-playing jazzman Rufus Harley, a slightly scuffed copy of United States of America’s eponymous 1968 album. But Deep Groove is approachable enough to welcome casual listeners who just want to browse — or to listen, as Kowalski is happy to let you preview your finds on the house turntable. — Jillian Bedell
Scientists believe the sense of smell plays a powerful role in human attraction. I don’t need the data — Cupid’s arrow hit me hard with my first whiff of Britta Lindgren’s soaps. Her all-natural, handcrafted cakes smell of honey, lavender, spice, and in the case of Forest Canopy, the Maine woods. Britta makes the soaps at her island farm, using herbs from her garden, honey from her hives, and milk from her Alpine goats. There are 11 evocative scents, plus Milk & Honey, which has no added fragrance. All are rich in nourishing oils; no dyes or detergents are used. You can start with a sample pack, but I predict you’ll fall in love with every one of them. — Tina Fischer
Inside a gift shop in Indiana, my parents smelled woodsmoke but couldn’t find a fireplace. The shopkeeper pointed them to a shelf where sat a miniature log cabin, wisps of smoke issuing from the chimney. A sticker on the bottom: PAINE PRODUCTS, INC. AUBURN, ME. As a kid, I’d spent many a winter evening around the hearth at my parents’ Pittsburgh home, and since I was renting a fireplace-less apartment in the D.C. area, they bought me one of these incense burners. My wife and I moved to Camden a few years ago. We still don’t have a fireplace, but the sweet scent of smoldering cedar makes our new digs feel more like home. — Will Grunewald