Practical Beauty

Camden’s Sugar Tools stocks sweet gardening and kitchen implements, yes, but also artful décor, clothing, and more.

By Jen DeRose
Photos by Molly Haley
From the July/August 2019 issue of Maine Homes by Down East


Native New Yorker Amy O’Donnell grew up spending summers in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, browsing and admiring the beach town’s charming boutiques. Later, she studied landscaping at New York’s Brooklyn Botanic Garden and worked retail at textile and home goods company Hable Construction, but knew she wanted to open her own shop one day. “I’ve always been an appreciator of things,” she says.


O’Donnell had been to Camden exactly twice before making the move in 2009. “When this waterfront space came up, I just went for it,” she says of her 800-square-foot former sail loft located on a quiet stretch just off Main Street. “It’s a lot of fun — someone will notice a windjammer going by and we’ll all pause  for a moment to watch.” An antique tin sign with the words “Sugar Tools” cut out, bought from a friend, gave her the store’s name.


Antique oak-and-glass display cases, vintage painted shelves, and antique French tables hold “beautiful and useful” décor, clothing, gardening, and beauty products from around the globe. One thing you won’t find? “I have a strict no-plastic policy,” says O’Donnell, who favors natural materials, such as wood, wool, and linen, instead.


Maine-made rattan onion baskets (“they’re something you can use every day that also look nice out in the open”), creamy pitchers by Lincolnville’s ANK Ceramics, two-tone stoneware from Vermont, fringed, hand-woven wool rugs from Mexico, enameled colanders from Austria, and carbon-steel trowels and pruners from Japan. “It’s not really a lifestyle store,” O’Donnell says. “But more things for life.”

As of 2024, Sugar Tools is now online only.

May 2024, Down East Magazine

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