Musseled Out is the third in the Maine Clambake series, and we are so glad that we are visiting the Snowden family again. Julia needs to save the family business once more, and she also needs to decide if she wants to stay in Maine. That made us think about small businesses, and the role they play in our lives. Wickeds, do you have any fond memories of a family owned or small business? Let us know!
Julie: I have a lot of small businesses, mostly family owned, that I go to every day. The hardware store down the street. The restaurant around the corner. The coffee shop (actually, three of them) near my office. But one small business I want to give a shout out to–our own Kim Gray (the Detective’s Daughter) own the Gift Cellar in Baltimore Maryland. What a great shop! I bought a wonderful pair of earrings there, and am planning my next visit soon!
Edith: I also love Kim’s shop. I owned a small family business twenty years ago: the Five Star Organic Farm (here I am with my garlic crop one summer). It was both glorious and tough. Great to work outside on my own land when my sons were little, grow organic vegetables, sell to enthusiastic customers. But it was also tough, as any farming enterprise is: weather or critters can devastate a crop. Your lettuce wilts on the table at the farmers’ market. And the same issues arise as confront authors: the need to publicize, market, sell the concept of your business to bring in customers…and money. Not for the faint of heart! I finally decided to rejoin the hi-tech desk-job market. What will Julia decide?
Sherry: Barbara’s books are so realistic that I keep forgetting I can’t really go on a Snowden family clambake! A couple of years ago I had an idea for a consumer product. I mentioned it to some close family friends and we joined forces. We started the patent process and fingers crossed it looks like it’s going to be approved.
Barb: Julie, I love this topic! I want to give a shout-out to a few family businesses that have been key to the Maine Clambake Mystery series. First of all, the Cabbage Island Clambakes. The Moore family who run them are nothing at all like the Snowdens, and Cabbage Island is not physically like Morrow Island, but visitors get the same delicious meal. Second of all, for Boiled Over, I visited Welch Blueberry Farm in Roque Bluffs, Maine, Downeast. The farm has been in the Hanscom family for four generations, and they also run a (very) small blueberry processing operation. 99% of wild blueberries are processed and frozen by large Canadian companies. Finally for Musseled Out, I went lobstering with Captain Clive Farrin. Lobstermen are the small businesspeople of the sea. The captains usually own their own boats, and they usually only go out for the day.
Jessie: I love to support local nurseries. Box stores sell seedlings, trees and shrubs but their plants can’t hold a candle to those grown with love, by people in the know, which can always be counted on to thrive in my tough climate. I eagerly await the open flag at my favorite local greenhouse, 4Js Earthworks, in Rochester, NH. The owner, Joan, always has a wide variety of herbs and heirloom vegetables along with a beautiful palate of perennial and annual flowers.
Liz: I haven’t had a chance to get to Kim’s shop yet, but it’s on my list! Although I do have a lovely wine glass that Edith got me there. I have a soft spot for family-owned businesses also. My father used to run a driving school (and for those who’ve driven with me, you can attest that our idea of driving is VERY different). Although that’s not a business that’s remained in the family, I saw how important it was for the community to get behind you. Today, my favorite local business is the Devon Point Farm, where we get a summer farm share. It’s such a great atmosphere to go there and see how the owners and their children live and work, and the veggies are some of the best I’ve ever had. Looking forward to this year’s kicking off!
Readers, what’s your favorite local business?
Obviously, my favorite local business is The Gift Cellar! I feel in many ways Baltimore is a small town and in the area where my shop is located the majority of the businesses are family owned. Our local jeweler has been there for nearly eighty years and is now being managed by the original owner’s granddaughter. Growing up in South Baltimore (now called Federal Hill by the tourist) we had a lovely small restaurant known as George’s Lunch. They had the absolute best hamburgers. When I was in my twenties the restaurant closed. A friend of mine ended up with the recipe for the hamburgers that she shared with me. Every bite brings back a memory! Small businesses are vital not only to our economy, but to our well being. They ground us to our community and provide us with more than unique items, they give us a connection to each other. You won’t find that in catalogue shopping!
True words, Kim!
Appropriate topic, since this is Small Business Week!
Cool! I didn’t know that.
After this weekend, I’ve got to go with my mechanic. I discovered a leak really late Friday night, but I had plans all day Saturday out of town. I dropped my car off in the morning, they fixed it, and allowed me to pay yesterday (their next day open). I’m sure it helped that I’ve been a loyal customer for 15 years, but this isn’t the first time they’ve done something like this for me either.
Wow — that is great and the really wonderful thing about small businesses!
I agree, Mark. You can build relationships with a local, family-owned business in a way you never can with a conglomerate. Which reminds me of my favorite thing to yell at customer service people at Bank of America (an event that happens all too frequently). “I’m a lot more loyal to you, than you are to me! I started with this bank seven mergers ago.”
I gave up on BofA a long time ago, Barb. But started with them as a teenager! First VISA card, too. Sigh.
I know I’m a little late on this one, but my favorite local business is Second Look Books, our local second-hand bookstore. They also sell new releases at a slightly discounted price. I’ve found many, many new-to-me authors there, and it’s one of my favorite places to hang out in and skim books. They recently had a sale where every book in the store was $1.00! With store credit for donated books, which I had, every book was $0.50. Can’t beat that.
Regarding my comment above, every USED book was $1.00. Not the new ones. ( :
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