ROCKPORT—“Living the dream.” That’s what people often say when asked how they are doing. For Bonnie Brooks, owner of Bonnie’s Place, a market for Maine artisans, that sentiment is the truth.
Her post-and-beam two-story shop, custom-built on her property, is the home for 112 artists and crafters all over the state from Kennebunk to Fort Kent.
Earlier in her career, she was the co-owner of a wharf in Cushing and the Bay View Lobster Restaurant in Camden.
“I’ve been a crafter for many years and I was working for a company when the time came that I knew I had to do something different,” she said. “So, I contacted seven of my crafter friends and asked them if they’d be interested in supplying me with their crafts if I opened up a store. I literally started with those seven crafters in the old Edgecomb General Store as my initial location.”
After launching the business, she wanted to move the store closer to home. It didn’t get any closer than the 24 x 24-foot building she had built 100 feet from her house, which sits at 288 Mill Street in Rockport.
Now, she enjoys her days meeting new people and talking up her vendors.
“I only sell Maine-made products and quality is the top priority,” she said. “Everything is different so none of my crafters have to compete with similar items. I try to carry items you don’t see everywhere.”
Each corner of the shop features one-of-a-kind handmade items, including her own handmade wreaths.
The items span the gamut with spices, teas, syrups, jams, and products from the Scone Goddess and Bixby Chocolates, Maine authors, jewelry, soaps, fiber arts, pottery, quilts, ornaments, original art and photography, and toys.
Marionettes handcrafted from Fish River Crafts are one of her biggest sellers.
She said that tourists often come in and buy souvenirs and mementos of Maine to bring back home, while locals often come in and look around to check out the competition.
“I get a lot of people who say, ‘I could make that or what a good idea,” she said, laughing.
One day, a high school student came into her shop with an idea. He told her he wanted to make playing cards featuring Maine towns and later, Maine lakes. She encouraged him and he came back with his finished product—it was a big seller.
Brooks and five other local businesses have organized a “Maine-made” crawl this Saturday, May 6, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. called The Spring Hop.
She said a colleague named Pam Burgess got the idea after participating in a Spring Hop in another town, seeing it as a way to collaborate resources and promote Mainers and their products.
The other retailers include Cary’s Corner, in Warren; Dragon’s Breath Pottery, in Warren; Beth’s Farm Market, in Warren, Sterlingtown Bakehouse, in Union, and Shanie’s Gifts, in Union.
“I’m very fortunate,” she said. “I’ve owned three businesses in my lifetime in Maine and this is the first one I’ve done on my own.”
Asked how she felt about that, she said, “Pretty damn good.”
For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/BonniesPlaceme
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org