A Browser’s Guide to Downtown Damariscotta

The town’s known for its tasty bivalves, but it is also full of retail pearls.

By Adrienne Perron
Photographed by Tara Rice
From our November 2022 issue

It’s peak oyster season, when briny little mollusks across Maine are at their plumpest and tastiest, storing up sugars and fats for winter. On a gastro-pilgrimage to Damariscotta, where the eponymous river offers New England’s richest oystering grounds, make time to survey the shelves along with the shellfish: Main Street hosts bushels of interesting indie shops, with new tenants filling historic storefronts just steps from the river — and from half-shell happy hours at King Eider’s Pub, the River House, or the Damariscotta River Grill.

A colorful display at Harbor

1. Harbor Yarns

For decades, Linda Perry has been hand-dyeing yarn to knit tams, blankets, shawls, and more. Her new shop sells her hand-painted yarns — with colors inspired by lupines, the ocean, the woods — along with knitted wearables and accessories. Most eye-catching are the shelves upon shelves of yarn in every shade of blue, which line an entire wall. “People come in and are like, whoa,” Perry says. “It’s a calming color, and I want people to feel peaceful here.”

74 Main St. 207-449-5270.

2. The Kingfisher and the Queen

The Kingfisher and the Queen

If there’s a common theme around this eclectic shop, full of new and vintage home goods and décor, it’s that owners Prudence and Roger Kiessling love merchandise with a backstory. From soft, patterned linens to wooden children’s toys to sparkling German glass glitter, many items are paired with Prudence’s hand-written note cards, explaining the background and other cultural tidbits. Lots of European imports.

79 Main St. 207-563-1590.

J & J owners Keleen Watson and Peter Ebanks

3. J & J Jamaican Grocery and Gift Shop

Peter Ebanks and Keleen Watson, who hail from Jamaica, opened their shop last year to bring some of their native country to Maine. A great place to find rubs and sauces (along with Usain Bolt T-shirts and beaded jewelry). On the weekends, Ebanks and Watson serve up excellent Jamaican street dishes, like smoked jerk chicken and curried goat. “We are adding some diversity to Damariscotta’s palate,” Ebanks says.

88 Main St. 207-563-6652.

4. Citizen Maine Home

Danny Cain checking out a customer at Citizen Maine

Danny Cain and Don Bostick’s home goods and gift store is a little bit elegant, a little bit playful. Fancy bath products and luxe linens (from brands like Yves Delorme) share space with boutique-y kids’ clothes and toys and Cain and Bostick’s line of breezy, lobster– and lighthouse–themed apparel. It’s a mix of what Cain calls “some class and some sass,” and it makes the place feel welcoming, whether you’re redecorating a chic seaside home or just picking up a souvenir hoodie.

93 Main St. 207-682-0140.

136 owner Rick Skoglund with his Leonberger, Digger

5. Gifts at 136

Martha Kalina and Rick Skoglund’s shop displays work from nearly 90 Maine artisans, gallery style, its white walls covered in fine art (lots of landscapes and seascapes), shelves and display cases full of ceramics, glass works, and jewelry. Also great gifts: boxes of colorful, small-batch couverture chocolates from Kalina’s side-hustle, Safe Harbor Confections. Throughout November, take 10 percent off throughout the shop, in celebration of its 10th anniversary.

136 Main St. 207-563-1011.

6. Kullat Nunu

Bracelets at Kullat Nunu

Lillian Christine’s year-old shop is filled with crystals, minerals, and gemstones, from agate pebbles to hefty columns of aquamarine to literal crystal balls. The place has a New Age–y vibe, but whether you’re looking for a piece of azurite to help open your throat chakra or just a pretty chunk of rose quartz for a centerpiece, the specimens are fascinating to browse. “Some people are into geology, some are into energy healing,” Christine says. “I’m a bit of both worlds.”

202 Main St. 207-315-0991.


Down East Magazine, November 2022