The artsy midcoast town clusters a lot of fun and funky retail on just a few streets.
By Tina Fischer
Photographs by Benjamin Williamson
[dropcap letter=”J”]ust outside Portland’s suburban orbit, Brunswick is a commercial and cultural center in its own right, with first-rate museums (thank Bowdoin College), arts venues, and a diverse dining scene. The shopping’s great too, with dozens of stores and galleries within easy walking distance of one another. Plus, there’s ample free parking (no meters!), though the two-hour limit may not be enough to take in all downtown has to offer.
This consignment shop recycles gently used outdoor equipment and apparel for all ages. Find deals on nearly new backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, boots, skis, and more, sporting labels from Patagonia, North Face, L.L.Bean, Kelty, Fischer, Smart Wool — the mix is always changing.
“Wyler’s is a modern general store,” one staffer told me. “A woman can grab a gift for a friend’s dinner party, part of the meal, and a new outfit to wear too.” There’s also jewelry, pottery, pillows, purses, toys, cookbooks, jams and sauces, Maine-roasted coffee, Haven’s chocolates, and fresh bread delivered daily from Portland’s Standard Baking Co.
Gary Lawless chalks his store’s longevity (40 years) up to his large selections of Maine books, current fiction, and children’s lit, along with, “loyal customers — people who still read!” Those customers say it’s Lawless himself. “Gary can order anything and it’s here in three days,” one testifies. “Who needs Amazon?”
This 6,000-plus-square-foot emporium (on two levels) opened 20 years ago as a traditional furniture store. Today, it’s much more. Inviting displays feature umpteen gift categories, plus puzzles, games, gardening items, teapots, cheeseboards, baskets, and rugs.
Vintage items, smart antiques, and whimsical gifts are the focus of this eclectic, welcoming shop. Owners Hannah Beattie and Dustan Larsen also feature the work of local artisans and Hannah’s own creations. They sell the popular Annie Sloan chalk paints too, which simplify furniture refinishing.
True to its name, this arts-supply store carries tools, kits, and inspiration for a wide range of creative exploration. All ages and skill levels are welcome, and owner Leslie Beattie has experience in many media. The work of emerging local artists is always on display, and a live band is on hand during Brunswick’s monthly art walk.
Fort Andross Mill Complex, 14 Maine St., Brunswick. 207-725-2855.
You could spend a few hours perusing the 160 dealer displays in the repurposed Fort Andross Mill. Antiques include everything from clocks and tools to glassware and estate jewelry, plus a lot of furniture, textiles, and lighting. It’s a huge space, but it’s well organized for easy browsing.