Nearly every day there are headlines that warn consumers of supply-chain disruptions and rising inflation. The long and short of it: almost everything will cost more, and there will be less of it. TVs and game consoles at Target, air fryers and coffee makers at Walmart, coats and shoes at Kohl’s — they’re all in short supply, and everyone will be jockeying for them.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though. You don’t have to claw your way through a big box store to snag the last Playstation, or hope that Amazon doesn’t run out of Roombas. You can get something unique that’s made right here in eastern Maine, sold by Maine businesses. It’ll probably cost less, and there (probably) won’t be any fistfights in the parking lot. And, after nearly two years of stress and confusion for businesses of all stripes, wouldn’t it feel good to support your neighbors?
Here are lots of gifts you can buy that are made in Maine — mostly in the Bangor area, to boot — that will please nearly every type of person. Everything here can be bought in Maine stores or online, and start in price at $5.
One thing that will hopefully stick around from the pandemic is more people spending time outside, around a campfire. TPC n’smore, based in Brewer, makes custom fire rings to upgrade your fire pit, and which will last for years; prices start at $300. Need to chop up that firewood? Get a handmade axe from Snow & Nealley in Smyrna, starting at $51. And to complete the rugged look, Bangor-based Maine Knife Company makes top-notch, classic knives ($229 and up) for all your hunting, fishing, cooking and general cutting needs.
There are so many incredible jewelers in Maine making beautiful stuff that it’s really hard to narrow it down. That said, here in the Bangor area, Maine Shellware makes earrings, bracelets and pendants out of reclaimed shells from Maine lobsters, clams and mussels, starting at $23.
Another Bangor jeweler, Katie Baron, takes natural objects like ferns ($75) and butterfly wings ($55), and uses electroplating to turn them into delicate metallic pendants, and sells them at The Rock & Art Shop in Bangor and Ellsworth. Or, you could always just find a beautiful piece of Maine tourmaline at your local jeweler, and turn it into something stunning for the person you love.
No one who drinks coffee will turn down a bag of high-end beans. Some of our favorite roasters in this neck of Maine woods include Farm House Coffee Roasters in Winterport, Coffee Hound Coffee Co. in Brewer, and 44 North in Deer Isle. They all make locally roasted coffee in a variety of roast levels and from lots of different origins; what an easy way to spend $10 or $20 and make someone’s morning a little perkier.
Whether it’s a stocking stuffer or a present for a neighbor or co-worker, you can’t go wrong with a tasty treat. For instance, Bangor TV weatherman-turned-salsa entrepreneur Todd Simcox’s perennialyl popular line of salsas, Todd’s Salsa, will never not get eaten. Neither will goodies from Veazie-based Savour Chocolatier, available at stores in Bangor like Bangor Wine & Cheese, Frank’s Bakery and Rebecca’s. And for a taste of la vie Franco-Americain, KMG Foods’ tourtiere seasoning mix will help you make tourtiere pork pie just like memere and pepere used to make.
Liberty Graphics in Liberty has been making beautiful apparel in Maine for a long time now, but its utterly precious line of onesies and toddler tees have to be some of the sweetest things you could buy for a new parent or growing baby. They’re printed with illustrated scenes from beloved Maine authors Dahlov Ipcar, Robert McCloskey and Chris van Dusen on super-soft cotton, and start at $22.
Self-care starts at home, so why not indulge in some products to make your skin shine? Island Apothecary, based on North Haven, makes heavenly smelling face and body products out of all-natural ingredients like avocado, jojoba and tea tree oils; try the Everyday Cleanser ($28) for a gentle, organic face wash. For a luxurious shower or bath experience, Copper Tail Farm out of Waldoboro makes goat milk bar soaps ($5) in a huge array of scents. And True North Beauty, based in Milo, makes skincare products with the wild mushroom chaga; the Beauty Box ($44) has cleansers, exfoliants and a face cream for a complete Maine-made beauty ritual.
At her Belfast shop and online, Northwoods Gourmet Girl sells Maine goods well beyond food: handmade ceramics and specially printed textiles complement her line of pantry staples. In Brewer, Sider’s Woodcrafting churns out beautiful cutting boards (starting at $50), coasters, cribbage boards and even custom work. Potter Beth Thompson makes beautifully speckled mugs and bowls out of her studio in Argyle, and they’re available at Maine Jewelry & Art in Bangor, online and in store.