When I think of a trip up Route 1 in Maine, I think of L.L.Bean, Red’s Eats and the inevitable line of car dealerships and art galleries in between Freeport and the Strand Theater in Rockland. On this trip, headed north on the same coastal road I’ve traveled dozens of times, I decided to stop at some of the small shops and funky diners I’d always driven by before. This time, I wanted to see what was inside.
3 Hall Road, Woolwich
On the corner of Hall Road and a bustling Route 1 in Woolwich, this tiny little store boasts shelves and shelves of antique kitchenware. Dozens upon dozens of 1950s Pyrex dishes line the walls in colorful displays of Stepford-esque perfection. Kathy Missal, the store owner, spoke with enthusiasm about the fully operative blue refrigerator circa 1960, which happened to be my favorite piece in the store. If you have passion for vintage Pyrex, this is your place.
568 Bath Road, Wiscasset
I’ve driven past Naked Leather more times than I can count, so it was nice to finally get an up-close look at the memorabilia hanging off Mike Mainey’s building. The interior is adorned with motorcycle jackets, sunglasses, leather vests and all things motorcycle and Mike showed me photos of his children and talked gleefully about summer tourism. Whether you ride or not, pay Mike a visit.
48 Atlantic Highway, Nobleboro
I almost missed this one, as it’s well hidden in plain sight. Disguised as someone’s grandmother’s farmhouse, this quilting and sewing shop is an oasis for the craftsman on her commute up the coast. Every wall on every level is packed with colorful materials for sale, and a plethora of sewing accessories are also available for impulse purchases at the register. Even if you just need a dose of color on your drive, stop in.
21 Center Street, Damariscotta
Spotted from a mile away, this little restaurant has all the charm of a busted-up railway car combined with the familiarity of your favorite diner. If you’re looking for a bite to eat, pay a visit to the accommodating waitstaff at Reunion Station. Enjoy your turkey club with extra mayo in the caboose-like atmosphere without the motion sickness.
THE GEMSTONE GODDESS
12 Oyster River Road, Thomaston
After driving for what seemed to be a considerable amount of time not having seen any businesses, I spotted a tiny purple store off to the left. I gingerly opened the door and was greeted by a young woman who ushered me in from the cold. She informed me that not only was she selling her handmade jewelry, a large assortment of gems and incense, but that I had the option of enjoying a therapeutic foot soak in a copper basin in a small room towards the back of the store. So if the long stretch of cow fields between Nobleboro and Camden are getting you down, stop in to Gemstone Goddess for a break.
MAINE STATE PRISON SHOWROOM
358 Main Street, Thomaston
As soon as I walked through the door, I was surrounded by three handmade pieces of furniture, each of which had its own burly man draped listlessly across it. One of the men lifted his head in a cheerful greeting. I explained my purpose and they invited me to take pictures of the store’s inventory, all of which was handcrafted by Maine inmates, a few of whom were draped over aforementioned handcrafted chairs. This place is an inspirational treasure trove of hand-carved goods. Inmates are paid by the hour to man the store and receive commission when a piece is sold. Definitely worth a stop in.