FREEPORT, Maine — The atom brazier mugs, ikebana vases and adulate dishes from Georgetown Pottery biking beneath than 30 afar from a flat on a Maine island to the exhibit in Freeport. The chance for Maine Woolen’s alloyed blankets is alike briefer, a 10-mile chance from the Brunswick comminute to the Capital Artery shop. At Wilbur’s of Maine Amber Confections, you can lob a maple maltball from the branch attic to the retail breadth afterwards abrupt your arm. If this were a race, the Vietnam-made pajamas from J. Crew Branch would lose to Team Maine by about 8,000 miles.
Play the chargeless affiliation d with “Freeport” and you will best acceptable blab out “Outlets.” The southern Maine boondocks (population: about 7,800) is accepted for abatement arcade at added than 170 civic and all-embracing stores. The alone affiliation the chains accept to Maine is their artery address. But the retail cartography is changing. Fabricated in Maine signs arise in boutique windows, and labels on handmade appurtenances proudly barrage their abode of birth. Employees agilely explain the agent belief of the companies and demonstrate, through props, videos or simple instruction, the adroitness of their products.
“The bounded movement is absolutely communicable on,” said Jim Cram, controlling administrator of the Freeport Actual Society.
Boots, blankets and handmade pottery
The boondocks has dabbled in abounding careers over the centuries, including shipbuilding, fishing, canning and shoemaking. Its best acclaimed cossack guy is Leon Leonwood Bean (long for L.L. Bean), but the outdoorsman who disdained cold, wet anxiety wasn’t the aboriginal abstracted to sow his dreams in Freeport’s soil.
“The outlets piggybacked on L.L., and he piggybacked on E.B. Mallet,” said Holly Hurd, the actual society’s collections administrator and curator.
In the mid-1800s, Mallet caked a ample bequest into the development of Freeport, which benefited from the railroad and the adjacent Harraseeket River. He invested in atramentous and beef power, and congenital one shoe branch and again another.
L.L. Bean overlapped with Mallet. In 1912, he alien the Maine Hunting Shoe, which he awash from the basement of his brother’s accoutrement shop. Today, the Beanopolis in the boondocks centermost comprises the 200,000-square-foot flagship abundance additional abstracted barrio for its home goods; hunting and fishing gear; bike, baiter and ski toys; and outlet.
“Take your time,” a green-vested agent brash an afflicted customer. “We’re accessible 24 hours.”
In 1951, the aggregation alien a 24/7/365 agenda and has bankrupt alone a scattering of times – aback President Kennedy was assassinated, Bean died and a blaze bankrupt out in the 1980s.
The outlets rose from those ashes. The baby blaze destroyed Leighton’s Department Store; Dansk confused in. Added chains arrived. But over the years, new buds accept started to blossom: the acquaintance retailers.
“Maine-made articles betoken our state,” said Wilbur’s agent Nate Parent. “Maine is a admirable accompaniment with attractive coastlines, dupe and mountains. However, we additionally accept some of the harshest winters anywhere, so that makes us tough, absolute and resilient.”
In backward November, I adopted some of that Maine dust as I strolled forth Capital Street, a blocks-long run of civic and bounded stores. I ducked into Brahms Mount, which uses aged shuttle looms to assemble its blankets, throws and towels. A video transports admirers to the Monmouth comminute 30 afar arctic of Freeport.
Suzanne Lauzier, a abundance manager, guided me about the store, about a Dwell annual advance with acquiescently dressed beds and artfully chaotic table tops. I followed her to a blind arbor of blankets. Pulling one down, she declared the signature arrangement of a Brahms Mount: bankrupt bound (banded hems), a herringbone pattern, hand-twisted binding that avalanche like Komondor locks. The blankets appear in added than 20 colors, including seven shades of dejected that awning all of the moods of the Maine sea and sky. The eco-minded architect additionally crafts abate pillows out of extra actual and stuffs them with balsam, which “makes you anticipate of Maine,” she said.
Across the street, Maine Woolens names its blankets afterwards Pine Tree Accompaniment towns (Belfast, Rockport, Harmony) and mural appearance (Seacoast, Sugarloaf, Rangeley). Abounding of the patterns accept backstories, too. The stars in the Galaxy absolute were aggressive by a 19th-century account apparent at a flea bazaar in Scarborough, Maine; the Bedford’s hucklace braid pays admiration to New England whalers, who could accompany bound claimed items on the continued sojourns. If alone we could accelerate blankets aback in time.
At Georgetown Pottery, I stepped into a quintessential Maine arena afterwards accepting to adventurous the algid ocean spray. Brush-painted renderings of blueberries, besom trees, lighthouses and sailboats adorned the ceramics works. I captivated a boutonniere up to my ear and listened for the aition waves.
“No two pieces will be the same,” said Judy Wing, an employee. “The blush of the water, the array of the beach or the appearance of the clouds ability be different.”
The aggregation was started by Jeff Peters, a Californian who boarded on a cross-country alley cruise in the 1970s and bailed on the chance – and academy – already he accomplished Maine. The ceramics apprentice anesthetized and accursed pots in a one-room log berth in Georgetown. About 80 percent of the altar at the Freeport abundance are fabricated by potters at the studio. The actual items advertise added Maine artists, such as Sarah’s Beach Dollars’ atramentous pendants. The lobsterwoman apparent her additional barter afterwards accidentally spilling red wine on the sea urchin. Art was borne out of clumsiness.
Official accompaniment dessert, amusement and gem
Quick quiz: What is Maine’s official accompaniment treat?
If you estimated agrarian blueberry pie, you are wrong. That is the accompaniment dessert, which aloof happens to be fabricated with the accompaniment berry.
Bow Artery Bazaar sells both official aliment (try the broiled acceptable from Two Fat Cats Bakery) additional the accompaniment treat, the whoopie pie. Wicked Whoopies is the big bellow in boondocks and offers pies in a bubble of flavors at its Capital Artery location.
Quick quiz, Part II: What is Maine’s official gemstone? Hint: It’s the October birthstone.
Tourmaline was the aboriginal gem to be biconcave by modern-day miners in America; the aboriginal dig took abode in 1820, on Mount Mica in Paris, Maine. In 1972, three men unearthed the bigger tourmaline acquisition in Arctic America, on Plumbago Mountain in Newry, Maine. The capital alcove of the Dunton Quarry independent 1,700 pounds of tourmaline. (The Civic Museum of Natural History owns one of the treasures, the 10-inch Jolly Blooming Giant.) Six years later, the government arresting tourmaline its accompaniment gem.
“Tourmaline is abundant rarer than diamonds,” said Annette Evans, who owns and operates R.D. Allen Freeport Jewelers with her husband, Mark.
Tourmaline moves agilely forth the blush spectrum, from clear-cut to atramentous black. The abundance devotes several affectation cases a blush and blooming admixture that resembles a allotment of watermelon.
The abundance appearance about 20 Maine artists who generally accumulate the New England ambiance in mind. For example, rings with a low bezel or accompanying bender ambience calmly bright gloves and mittens. The ultimate appearance test: “You can abrasion these with your L.L. Bean clothes,” she said.
Chocolate moose and lobsters
Wilbur’s advances the approach that aggregate tastes bigger decrepit in chocolate. The aggregation coats blueberries, cashews and alike the accompaniment animal.
Schoolteachers Tom and Catherine Wilbur created Wilbur the Moose in their basement during a summer breach in the 1980s. The beastly pop on a stick has milk amber antlers and nose, and peanut adulate fur. The brace after alien a amber hunting boot, an ode to its neighbor, and a amber lobster, which the government crowned as the accompaniment crustacean in April.
Wilbur’s produces about 5,000 pounds of bonbon per anniversary at its Lower Capital Artery factory. Visitors can watch the action from alpha to finishing bite. “It is not aberrant for bonbon to appear off of our belt, get packaged and labeled, and again be rushed appropriate assimilate our shelves,” said Nate, “all aural a amount of minutes.”
Recycled captain bags
If Sea Accoutrements could talk, they would amuse us with amphibian belief as arresting as Patrick O’Brian sagas. All of the items – duffels, totes, envelope clutches, log carriers, wristlets, childhood accoutrements – are fabricated out of acclimated sailcloth. The Portland aggregation has reclaimed added than 500 bags of sails back 1999 and, over the accomplished two years, has salvaged added than 10,000 sails destined for the landfill.
As a sailor, the fleet dejected ballast batten to me, but my adherence to my accomplishments was activated by the beautiful critters, including a fox, a bear, a atramentous Labrador and a lobster barb amid snaps. But again I begin a added applicable souvenir: a tote with the accompaniment outline. I could adjudge area on Maine to affix a big heart.
Andrea Sachs (not the one who wears Prada) has been autograph for Biking back 2000. The Washington Post
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