SEARSPORT—The humble shop that sits at the Hobby Horse Antiques Marketplace in Searsport (383 E. Main Street) is actually a hub of creative collaboration between multiple industries in Maine.
Patrick Hutchings and his husband, Jack Hill, both artisans themselves, wanted a small place to sell their own upcycled artwork, as well as give lesser-known makers and crafters in the area more exposure.
Having recently moved back to the Midcoast from Florida after being away for nearly 20 years. Hutchings, who grew up in Lincolnville, his father a lobsterman, knew they belonged back in the Midcoast. In Stockton Springs, where they own a home, they used cut wood from trees on their property to repurpose the 17-foot x 8-foot shop.
“We thought we’d start with this small concept of carrying other artists’ items and see if it took off,” said Hutchings. “People all over just started contacting me and it’s grown.”
The offerings from H & H Mercantile are eclectic, ranging from vintage items, artwork, crocheted and crafted pieces, food items, and home goods, where freeze-dried candies and homegrown teas are popular sellers. And most of the solo entrepreneurs H & H Mercantile represents live and work in rural areas such as Lincolnville, Morrill, or Stockton Springs.
“I try to only carry one type of artisan at a time,” he said. “Everyone is super friendly and talented, and what each person makes is totally unique.”
Hutchings’s ability to connect little-known artisans, makers, and crafters, some of whom just work out of their living rooms and kitchens, doesn’t just end there.
Based on his roots in Maine and having grown up and worked in the Midcoast, Hutchings has made all kinds of collaborative alignments with friends and colleagues to grow the tiny store into a farmer’s market, as well. His childhood friendship with home gardener Jessica Bennett, allows them to offer seedlings and hardy Maine plants on a weekly basis.
“She doesn’t have a formal business; she just runs a tiny nursery out of her own greenhouse and property and brings her assortment of plants and seedlings to us every week,” said Hutchings. “Everything is field grown to Maine hardy temperatures.”
Another friendship with Beth Gindel, who runs the Hennery in Hope, led to the provision of some of their farm-raised eggs.
Beyond that, Hutchings’s collaboration with another good friend Nicole Moore, a first-generation Liberty farmer, who founded the Maine Produce Alliance, sets his little gift store apart, connecting to an industry that usually doesn’t pair with artists.
Since 2019, Moore has organized a network of local farmers who all produce quality local ingredients and sell their products online and at farmer’s markets. Maine Produce Alliance’s farm share subscription boxes are a weekly farmer’s choice assortment that Moore and her team deliver all over Maine. H & H Mercantile serves as one of its pick-up locations.
Moore also delivers farm products, such as garlic, shallots, rhubarb, microgreens, eggs, and other seasonal produce every week, as well.
Hutchings will also soon be offering another food item, one that is close to home—he’s working on a license to sell his father’s lobsters.
In Maine everybody has their “thing” and it’s great to see all of these alliances to lift up microbusinesses as a whole.
The Hobby Horse Antiques Marketplace is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. six days a week
H&H Mercantile is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. This will be adjusted as the summer progresses. For more information visit H & H Mercantile on Facebook and Instagram.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org