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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fairwinds Florist 5 Main St., Blue Hill. 207-374-5621.
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.
You like flannel shirts and peasant skirts, and you’re not above a trip to a big box store.
[column]Bargain Store Renys 17 locations across Maine.