Most artisans start small, as side hustlers and hobbyists. When they’re ready to start building scale, finding the right platform can be tough — it’s easy to drown in the sea of Etsy sellers.
That’s why Mary Plummer, the maker behind Gorham’s Bar Soap Company, opened Maine Micro Artisans, to provide a space for other micro-entrepreneurs to sell their work and build a community of patrons. After opening her downtown Gorham storefront last summer, she was surprised by how quickly it took off. “I underestimated the amount of connections it would make,” she says. By the time MMA marked its one-year anniversary, in June, some 150 makers had work on display — jewelry, apparel, paintings, ceramics, and more — with another 200 on a waiting list.
In May, a Bangor leasing agency approached Plummer about a vacant space in the Bangor Mall. The store aligned with the city’s vision for more Maine-made flavor in the struggling shopping center. So, in September, MMA opened a Queen City megastore, with room to display the works of nearly 500 makers.
For Plummer, whose plate was increasingly full with her soap biz and family responsibilities, the expansion signaled the right time to step away. Bangor entrepreneur Caity Brown — whose downtown café, Tea and Tarts, closed during the pandemic — took the reins of the new mall location. In Gorham, screen-printer Sam Camino took over the shop where she’d once sold her wares (renamed Shenanigans, it will still feature work from several dozen MMA makers).
Plummer, for her part, is tickled to see others carrying on what she started. “When people walk into these stores, I want them to recognize how many artisans there are in Maine,” she says. “We are creating on a big scale when we work together.”
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