Sunday, May 28, 2006

Summer Begins in Maine

It's Memorial Day Weekend, and summer has officially begun in Maine. Lobster dinners abound - it's the quintessential Maine meal, and just about every eatery up and down the coast has their version of it. The weather, so wet and cold these past few weeks, is once again fabulously beautiful this holiday weekend - blue skies, warm tempertures and everything is in bloom.

The weather forecasters have been toting the wonderful weather for the past week, so folks from Boston and New York City are flocking northwards for the first long vacation weekend of the season.

Local businesses are counting on this influx of those "from away" to support their businesses. Maine is a tourism-based state - gas stations, convenience stores, antiques shops, state-operated beaches and parks, grocery stores, boutiques, art shops, lobster pounds, hotels and bed & breakfast inns, white tablecloth restaurants and roadside diners all base their annual incomes on the four months of summer season.

The financial tone is set by the first weekend of summer. If the weather is good, people enjoy themselves and often return later in the summer for a second or third trip. If the weather is poor, the tourists don't show up, and they might not even bother trying a later summer trip. So Memorial Day Weekend is critical in Maine.

Even though the weekend is only half-way through, good reports are coming in from business owners. A local well-known auction house had a stellar sale yesterday, with strong prices on most of their antiques - the auction house was filled with big city tourists who outbid the local dealers with passion. Here in Damariscotta, there are several boutique stores offering candles, garden items, locally made glass, seaside-designed custom jewelry, artisan pottery, upscale clothes and other quality items showcasing Maine, and I saw many people wandering from shop to shop, many of them carrying bags of their newly acquired treasures. Things are starting to look good for business in Maine!

A new antiques multi-dealer shop opened for the first time Saturday. Scuttlebutt Antiques, on Route 1 just south of Rockland, had it's Grand Opening, and first reports were that there was a steady stream of customers, and many sales on the first day. In this difficult economy, starting a new business takes courage, and this shop so far has not only opened, but has done so with some of the finest quality antiques dealers this area has to offer. They've definitely become the "scuttlebutt" of the Maine mid-coast!

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