So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu. Adieu, adieu, to every one of you.
These are tough times for all of us — newspapers have been especially hard hit — and this forces us all to make hard decisions. When my editors at the Bangor Daily News decided they wanted to shift this column’s content toward bulk buying and discount insurance, I decided it was time to move my work in a new direction, as well.
The economy hasn’t given any of us reason to be hopeful. Local residents — myself included — are feeling the strain of making do with less. As a result, local and national retailers are struggling. But if there is one thing ShopGirl has always embraced, it’s the power of looking on the bright side. Certainly, times like these call for caution and frugality, but they also call for laughter and release — and smart, sassy writing.
If you agree, I invite you join me online for a new endeavor, MaineMaven.com, where I post daily stories about Maine lifestyle, food, fashion, the arts and, of course, shopping. The Maven covers the entire state, from Kittery to Fort Kent — in other words, it’s all about ME. As regular readers of this column know, I’m a fierce advocate for supporting the local economy, because I believe local businesses — small and large — are what makes Maine tick. I’m thrilled to highlight the best of Maine in a new forum, and I hope you’ll make it a part of your daily routine.
That’s not to say I won’t miss ShopGirl, because I will. The last eight years have been one heck of a ride — and they’ve also provided world-class opportunities. I have met top designers and interviewed editors at the country’s leading fashion magazines. I had the chance to help orchestrate several unforgettable fashion spreads — including the mud season extravaganza of 2002. And the recent style awards package truly ended ShopGirl’s run on a high note. The five winners — each one unique, fearless and fabulous — epitomize personal style, and they are an inspiration.
When I started this column, people in Bangor and beyond looked at me like I had two heads and said, “Shopping? Fashion? In Maine? You’re kidding.” But I wasn’t. And I think we — you, me and those who have watched from afar — proved the naysayers wrong — in style. Eastern Maine is home to some of the most fashionable, budget-savvy men and women I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, and that’s something that should be celebrated long after ShopGirl is gone.
Though I have had many unforgettable ShopGirl moments, it is the opportunity for exchange and interaction with readers that I have found most rewarding. For those of you who have followed ShopGirl’s adventures faithfully over the years, thank you. To the readers who have stopped me while I’m out shopping to tell me you like the column, you have no idea how much that means to me. To the contest winners who allowed me to tear apart closets and rebuild wardrobes, I appreciate your trust. And to all of you who have written — via e-mail and snail mail — over the years, thank you. As ShopGuy (and our bulging, way-too-small closets) will attest, I have kept every single letter, gift, drawing and photograph — including the Polaroid from a woman in search of a new girdle. I treasure them.
Finally, I am grateful to my colleagues at the Bangor Daily News, who have believed in this column and helped make it sing in print and online each week for nearly a decade.
Before I go, I’d like to leave you with a few words of advice: If it doesn’t fit, don’t buy it. Always shop around. And even though things may be tight right now, don’t stop shopping — even if you’re only window shopping. You deserve a treat.
ShopGuy, ShopDogs, ShopCat and the entire ShopGirl family are leaving these pages, but don’t think of this as the end. Think of it as the beginning. ShopGirl is all grown up. She has left the nest. She’s a maven now. And there’s a lot more fun to be had. I promise.
Kristen Andresen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.