Three new retail and body art businesses have opened in downtown Bangor in the past few weeks, including one that offers a unique business model involving some rather humble looking bivalves.
Pearl Cove, located at 89 Central St., formerly the home of the Central Gallery, opened in early March. The boutique offers the chance for customers to open a real oyster, find a real cultured freshwater pearl inside, and then put that pearl in the jewelry setting of their choice.
Owner Krystal White got hooked on oysters about two years ago after watching a Facebook Live video of oyster openings. She wanted to try it for herself, and began researching businesses that offers pearl oysters. She found the price point prohibitive, however, until fall 2016, when she came across an oyster farm in Southeast Asia that offered them wholesale.
“We were able to cut the price down almost in half, which was when my husband and I decided to take a little leap and start our own business,” said White, a Bangor native. “We can offer pearls at a much smaller price point, so more people can come enjoy it.”
Customers are guaranteed to get a pearl out of their oyster, which are not alive and which are not fit for human consumption. Pearls come in a multitude of colors, and a few oysters will contain more than one pearl. In addition to individual sales, White offers oyster opening parties for groups, and also encourages parents and kids to come in and open oysters together.
“It’s a fun thing to do after school — it’s a little gooey and gross, but you end up with a beautiful pearl, and you learn something about these animals,” said White.
White said she decided to open a brick and mortar shop after she rapidly outgrew her originally home-based business. She still offers Facebook Live “pearl parties” several times a week, in which customers from all over the U.S., Canada and Australia can purchase one or more oysters, watch White open them on Facebook, and then choose their jewelry setting or to have the pearl shipped to them.
White says those pearl parties are still her most popular offering, but that having a retail store was both a necessity and something she wanted to do.
“We just wanted to be a part of the culture of downtown Bangor, and bring in some foot traffic,” said White. “But we were actually a national business before we were a local business.”
Two other businesses have also opened in downtown Bangor in the past few weeks.
Accents Home Furnishings and Decor, located at 84 Harlow St., sells home furnishings, including both Maine-made designers and designers from around the country and the world. Owner Alicia Tozier offers handmade furniture, stoneware, glassware, accent pillows, lighting, wall art, rugs and engraved woodworking, as well as design consultations and wedding registries.
Also downtown, tattoo artist Autumn Tierney has opened Three Graces Tattoo and Piercing at 40 Main St., next door to Herbal Tea & Tobacco. Tierney was a tattoo artist at Blind Faith Tattoo on Central Street until this year, when she decided to strike out on her own. Tierney will offer tattooing and piercing services, and will also showcase local visual artists in a regularly changing gallery set up in the same space.
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