I dragged the VEB home to Maine this weekend with some grand-but-tentative plans involving the Yarmouth Clam Festival, the Waterford World’s Fair, and some hiking and canoeing. When we woke up on Saturday morning it was still hot and humid, threatening rain, and the idea of going too far afield wasn’t very appealing to me. My mother was on her way to a cash mob in downtown Norway, so with promises of breakfast at Cafe Nomad I enticed the VEB to ditch the clam festival and go with my mom instead.
I don’t know who gets the credit for thinking up cash mobs, but I think it’s a genius idea. It’s a way to support small, locally-owned businesses and keep money in the community. A group of people convene downtown and pledge to spend at least $20 in cash at a to-be-announced store. At this particular event they selected 4 stores, the newest tenants in the (oh-thank-God-finally) renovated historic Opera House. And, lo and behold, one of them is a YARN store. A YARN store that also sells WINE. How GENIUS is that?! And how great are these signs?!
My heart was just thrilled to see this. Not only is it a great space – light and airy, with the original high tin ceilings – but, my goodness, it took a good 10 years of a whole community’s blood, sweat and tears to get that commercial space up and running again. Back in 2003, I moved back home to this area and started working for a little regional economic development organization that was trying to revitalize downtown Norway. At the time the Opera House was owned by someone from out-of-state and in pretty bad shape. The organization I worked for tried to get a group of locals together to purchase it, but another out-of-stater bought it. And then pretty much left it to crumble, one brick at a time.
It took years – long enough for me to move and change jobs no less than 4 times – and an eminent domain seizure for the town to finally restore this building. I think the upper floors probably still need work, but for now the roof isn’t leaking anymore and the first floor is home to some BEAUTIFUL retail spaces. I mean, just look:
And then, of course, the yarn. They have a great selection of high quality yarns, including Koigu, Louisa Harding, and Swan’s Island. They also have a large selection of good basic yarns like Cascade, and a smaller selection of locally spun yarn. My favorite, which my mother bought for me, was from A Wrinkle In Thyme farm in Sumner, which is going to make a lovely hat. I also picked up a couple of skeins of Koigu, since my local yarn store in Massachusetts doesn’t carry it. And the VEB scored a couple of bottles of wine.
I can’t remember the specifics, but something like over 50 people poured $2,900 into these 4 businesses in the span of an hour or so. Honestly, I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself. If you are reading this from somewhere in The Hills, if you can spare $20 then you should find a way to participate in one of these events and support a local enterepreneur. And if you are a knitter reading this, then Fiber & Vine is definitely worth the trip!