A new retail shop on Main Street in Bangor features work by more than 70 Maine artists and artisans from all around the state, in a building that a pair of downtown real estate developers recently purchased.
Country Blessings, owned by Elaine LaPoint King, opened last week at 35 Main St., in a building purchased last month by Louie Morrison and Luke McCannell. The shop fills a downtown Bangor storefront that has been vacant for more than a year and a half, and it marks the latest addition to a building that has been filling up with tenants since its new owners took over.
Morrison had had his eye on 35 Main St. for more than a year, he said, and had been working for months with the building’s former owner, Greg Lovley, on a deal to buy it. Morrison said there are 13 apartments in the building’s upper floors, all of which are now occupied, and that there is another commercial space available to rent in the building’s basement.
Morrison and McCannell also own 1 Main St., where Umami Noodle Bar is located, and Morrison manages a number of downtown properties, including the Circular Block on Broad Street and 31 Main St., next door to 35 Main.
King, 60, an Auburn native now living in Waldo County, has always been a crafter and maker, and in her years of making home decor for her family and friends, she got to know a lot of fellow crafters and creative people.
After a long career as a secretary at Maine high schools including Searsport District High School and Penquis Valley High School in Milo, King decided to make the jump into retail.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I just know so many people that make so many neat things,” King said. “I have people coming to me all the time.”
King offers a wide array of locally made items in her shop, including hand-painted signs, baskets, textiles, glassware, handmade silver jewelry, leather goods, upcycled items, hand-knit woolen scarves, toys, jars of Maine-made pickles and preserves, body products, carved wooden items and so on. King says her inventory can change on a weekly basis.
Though she accepts vendors on commission, she does not set her shop up with booths, in the way that other commission-based businesses might.
“I want this to be a boutique. I want everything to be out together. It’s a shop. I want people to have that kind of experience when they come in,” King said. “And I love to decorate. I love to make it look nice.”
In July, a few weeks before Morrison and McCannell were set to close on the building, King reached out to them about potentially opening her business in their space. King originally opened her shop in Milo in 2013, but in 2015 decided to move the business to Belfast, where she and her husband, Joe, had themselves moved.
After four years in downtown Belfast, however, King decided over this past summer that she needed to find a new community — one that was less dependent on a seasonal tourist population, and more focused on a year-round, local clientele.
After looking at a few different locations, she came across the space at 35 Main St. in downtown Bangor, a location that was most recently home to Maine Cloth Diaper Company, which closed in January 2018. The space has lain empty ever since.
King said that the immediate welcome she received from fellow downtown business owners was unexpected and touching.
“I am really kind of overwhelmed by how nice everyone has been,” King said. “You just really get the sense that this is an incredibly welcoming and warm community.”
Though she lost a few vendors in the move from Belfast to Bangor, King said she gained about 10 new ones from the Bangor area and is always accepting new vendors into the business. To inquire about selling products at Country Blessings, call 207-573-9031.