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BDA Membership News & Updates Blog

Our new bi-weekly feature with news & updates on our member businesses

2/17/2021: Turning a vision into reality: Woods and Waters Gear Exchange

How much fun can you have running a business?  Just ask Jenna Vanni of Woods & Waters Gear Exchange.  Just check out some of her Facebook posts showcasing some of her outdoor gear and you get the sense that someone is enjoying what they do, and for good reason. 

Last week Jenna was recognized for her efforts with LIFTED Outdoors to raise money for Teens to Trails, Kingdom Kids, and The Venture Out Project. Jenna was very supportive of LO’s mission as it was a way that she could support several youth organizations throughout New England. This first campaign raised $300 for the participating organizations.  Teens to Trails was selected as a beneficiary of LIFTED’s first campaign and these funds will support high school outing clubs, including the clubs at Brunswick and Mt. Ararat High Schools.

Woods & Waters Gear Exchange opened the doors as a new downtown Brunswick Business on January 18th, 2019 and since that day the business has taken off and grown well beyond what she expected, especially with a pandemic hitting just over a year later.  As a new business owner striking out for the first time on her own, it has been a success from day one (which anyone can tell you is usually not the case with any new business) even though being an entrepreneur was the furthest thing from her mind just years ago. 

Jenna started a career in engineering garments, a bit off from her college studies of Studio Art and Community Development.  Working with several companies including LL Bean, she spent years in apparel development and fashion design, but always knew there was something missing.  Having the opportunity to travel to New York, Los Angeles and overseas she began thinking of “a way out”.  Through these years working with new apparel and outdoor gear she accumulated lots of items as part of her work, even offering to buy some items off her co-workers.  She began hoarding these items and a plan soon formulated.  “In my years at the University of Vermont I discovered a store in town called The Outdoor Gear Exchange offering used outdoor gear & apparel for a fraction of the cost, and also a warm, welcominig atmosphere.  It allowed me to explore many outdoor sports that I may not have had the opportunity to do, and it was such a fun, laid-back store that I just enjoyed going back”.  Soon the idea came together-her collection of items, a love of the outdoors and a drive to help others to explore nature created an opportunity, so she struck out create her own gear exchange.  She fell in love with #12 Pleasant Street from the minute she walked in and the dream became a reality in a few short days.  With access to Bowdoin students (and eventually many other college students in the area) and a downtown location, she felt this was the ideal place to open “Woods + Waters Gear Exchange”, stocking the store initially with her years of collected items.  Since then, she has built a successful consignment shop that continues to expand in outdoor gear & apparel, from gloves, hats & jackets to boots, bikes and canoes.  Carrying pretty much anything you can imagine she has also had many unique items.  “I just received a dog sled” she says, “and military issue sleeping bags complete with arms and legs!”

Jenna loves what she does, especially knowing that she is giving others the opportunity to explore the outdoors that otherwise may not afford to do so.  She often donates items to those in need, works with local start-ups by featuring their merchandise, and works with the local B’wick Bikes program, rehabilitating old bicycles and donating them to those in need.  After 2 years in business, she feels the business has been a success and looks forward to continuing her mission of helping people to explore the great outdoors and live a better life.  Check out her shop at 12 Pleasant Street or preview items online , on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

01/28/2021 BDA’s Member of the Year-Curtis Memorial Library

The Brunswick Downtown Association Board of Directors have voted Curtis Memorial Library as the 2020 Member of the Year Award winner.Your local library since 1883, Curtis Memorial Library has weathered many changes throughout its history, but nothing like the pandemic.  A mecca for all the community, a library’s primary function is to provide a space for people to interact around information, and Curtis Memorial Library provides this and so much more.

For Library Director Liz Doucett and the staff at CML, the decision to close the doors to the public (twice) was not easy, but necessary to protect the staff and patrons.  However, immediately after closing the doors in March, the staff began finding ways to move many of their services to online platforms. “I’m so proud of how quickly we shifted gears…they put their fears and anxieties aside and came up with plans to help the community to be able to enjoy the benefits of the library” says Liz.   With curbside pick-up one of the first moves made to accommodate the traditional lending service, many of the familiar programs were moved to online platforms-one example is the art exhibit in the Morrell Meeting Room, an ongoing, rotating art display featuring local artists.  “Normally we’d see dozens of people viewing the art in person, but once we launched the virtual exhibit, we saw hundreds of views, and more art was being sold through this new program.” There are more than a dozen new virtual services that have been added since the pandemic, and Liz is quite proud of their work in creating a whole new model of how libraries operate.  As Liz says, “I feel like we’ve never really closed down”. 

When I asked Liz what she was most proud of, she related back to the quick actions and flexibility of her staff.  “The demonstrated their willingness to keep moving forward in the face of all obstacles.  Everybody has learned to navigate through this new (online) environment and operate as best as possible”.  Some of the other innovations the library has introduced include hundreds of virtual books and magazines added to the cloud library, the addition of extensive online learning database, language-learning programs, and Kanopy-streaming movies & documentaries.  Additional services added include contact-free delivery of material to senior and assisted living, Books on Wheels delivery service, Telephone discussions with patrons about next book recommendations plus regular blogs with reading recommendations, resumed weekly pick up of Harpswell book drop, and if you haven’t checked it out yet a new podcast (Curtis Cast) on dozens of useful topics for all.

Liz and her staff look forward to the day when they can safely “return to normal” and open the doors to the public, but in the meantime they have been working tirelessly to offer the same services their patrons are used to in a way that is as convenient as possible under the current circumstances and will continue to bring the community together as best as can be…and for that we congratulate the staff of Curtis Memorial Library for the BDA Member of the Year Award for 2020!

12/16/20: California Dreaming becomes Maine Reality at Elevated Remedies

With the marijuana industry coming into full acceptance across the US, you do not need to look far to find dispensaries popping up across the state of Maine, but like a good coffee house versus a fast-food drive-through, all dispensaries are not alike.  Meet Keith & Kevin Carlon, brothers with roots in Brunswick, that opened Elevated Remedies, a medical cannabis dispensary at 14 Industrial Parkway in Brunswick. 

Keith started his work in the cannabis industry in California where he worked for three years in cultivation as well as studying the medicinal side of the plant and its effects on the endocrine system and psychological health. After seeing an opportunity at home, Keith returned to Maine to be closer to family; and with the help of his brother Kevin, who had been working in cultivation for a few years, began the business planning and licensing process. With a lot of elbow grease, caffeine, meetings, and a few lucky stars; the brothers Carlon opened for business in August of 2019.

Dedicated to setting the bar high, Elevated Remedies works with their patients to provide the best product based on their needs in a highly consultative setting. When you walk into their shop, you are greeted with a rustic, yet clinical aesthetic designed to highlight some of their extensive product lines and to give a homey Maine feel.  By appointment, Keith & Kevin will meet with you to learn about your needs and discuss the many options available from pain management, sleep-aids and anxiety relief that can be very educational for the first-time user. From day one, Keith and Kevin believe that education and de-stigmatization is the key to helping cannabis patients feel enabled and encouraged when selecting the products that best suit their needs.

Although marijuana has been legalized in most every state, many people still have pre-conceived notions about the industry, including yours truly.  When I met Keith last year and spent some time learning about his background and extensive knowledge of how the different cannabis products interact with our bodies, I walked away with a completely different outlook and truly understand the positive impacts cannabis can have for a variety of medical conditions.

One of the biggest challenges they face currently is their location in the Industrial Park-it’s not the best location for any retail business including a dispensary.  Based on existing town ordinances and zoning, marijuana dispensaries can only be in the industrial zones of Brunswick, and this has had an impact on getting new customers to find them; especially where the lack of foot traffic is concerned. Keith and Kevin have set a goal to work with the town on potentially expanding the zoning for storefronts in Brunswick because, at the end of the day, they are committed to being a visible part of the Brunswick business community. For them, like any customer-facing business, being closer to the Pleasant Street or even Maine Street corridor would be ideal, not only for them but for their clients.  Until that day comes, please make a point of checking out Brunswick’s best kept secret at Elevated Remedies and chatting with Keith and Kevin, you will not be disappointed.

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