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BDA Membership News & Updates Blog

BDA’s bi-weekly feature with News & Updates on BDA member businesses.

July 21, 2021: Walk a mile…or 10 in his Shoes. Meet Tom the Bottle Man, a member of our community

Chances are that if you live or work in the Brunswick area, you’ve seen or met Tom Morrison, aka Tom the Bottle Man, and his wagon full of bottles walking around town.  Tom has been known as “the bottle man” for several years now since someone made a personalized reflective vest for him for his safety. 

Although he’s not a member of the BDA, Tom is recognized as a member or our community and stops by our office frequently. I had the chance to chat with Tom and learn more about him today. As you can well imagine Tom has worked all his life and, being slightly past retirement age continues to do so. Tom grew up in the Bucksport/Belfast area and started working on a dairy farm at the age of 7. He helped around the farm and helped with the milk deliveries in Belfast. He spent many years in a poultry processing factory on the Belfast waterfront right next to a former sardine canning operation that existed there for decades. After that he spent several years as a school bus driver for the Bangor and Hamden school departments.  “I loved the little kids, they were always happy and would sing songs …and I would sing along with them” he says. “I was (an) overly cautious driver” he continues, and several parents recognized him for being one of the safest bus drivers on the route. 

When Tom fell upon harder times he was introduced to Brunswick by his daughter and has been living at the Brunswick Towers for over 11 years now, where he met his current wife Madeline, or “Maddie” as she’s known.  They met shortly after Tom moved into the apartment complex, and Tom says he dreamed he would meet his new wife while he was there.  “I could see (her face) in my dream, and I saw her the very next morning on the patio” Tom recalls. They’ve been happily married since then, and Maddie usually accompanies Tom, but recently her health has been an issue so she’s taking it easy.  But not Tom, he covers miles of territory collecting bottles from both businesses and individuals that save them for Tom from Church Road out to Pleasant Street, the Industrial Parkway and all downtown Brunswick, Jordan Avenue and Bath Road, and out as far as the Walmart shopping area. As you may know some of these areas have no sidewalks or crosswalks, yet Tom finds a way to cross the busy Cook’s Corner intersection. “I make eye contact, and they stop and let me cross” he says. 

Tom is not without incident-only three years ago he was admitted to the hospital with heart problems and underwent surgery, only to fully recover and get back at it in a very short time.  Recently Tom took a fall in a crosswalk downtown and took a hard hit to his face, but thanks to a couple of good Samaritans he was immediately taken to safety and treated by local EMS. True to form, he was back on the street the very next day with stitches to his forehead and a large bandage on his nose. “I didn’t really feel anything (the next day)” he tells me, but he is the type that wouldn’t complain anyway.  

Many locals know Tom and look out for him, offering not only their bottles but help with his bottle carts.  A local auto body shop recently helped Tom install new wheels for his cart, and others have helped in many other ways.  Tom loves his community, and when asked what his plans are for the future, he states he would love to find a place in Brunswick for he and Maddie to live out their remaining years. 

Next time you see Tom be sure to shout out or wave as you see him out and about in Brunswick and keep guessing just how many miles he might have walked so far today.

July 7, 2021:  Lessons in Jewelry & the Maine fishing industry-our newest Members

We welcome two new members to the Brunswick Downtown Association: CHICKENSCRATCH Jewelry and The Maine Fishermen’s Association!

Fort Andross is home to a highly diverse group of businesses from restaurants to retail, artists & crafters to a bicycle shop, chances are you will find something you need or want there!  That is where Lisa & Scott Cylinder have set up CHICKENSCRATCH, a studio jewelry company founded in 1988 and offering over 34 years of jewelry-making experience. 

Their work has been featured across the globe and has been featured in galleries from San Francisco to Paris, and once again a world-renowned business has set up home in Brunswick (remember the brownie ladies that were featured on Oprah & the Academy Awards?).  Imagine a pair of earrings crafted from bolts & nuts or “Space Invader Earrings”, all handmade from base metals & wire, then colorfully created into beautiful pieces of jewelry-these are the staple products at CHICKENSCRATCH.

Lisa & Scott opened their new studio in The Fort just over 3 years ago, adding to the roster of over 15 artists & crafters housed at Fort Andross.  Their new space (affectionately called “The Wedge”) is located in the lower level of the complex “We love the space” says Scott Cylinder, “it has enough room for our studio and classroom, and we love the bonus window overlooking the back patio”.

While they, like most every other business found it necessary to change and adapt during the pandemic, have always featured their work online and have also recently started getting back to in-person shows in the Boston and Philadelphia area. In addition to creating world-class jewelry, Scott & Lisa have offer jewelry workshops and classes for both basic and intermediate skill levels, and as of this writing they have space for 2 attendees for their next classes staring in September. To see samples of their work, learn more about their history or sign up for a workshop or class, please visit their website at www.lisaandscottcylinder.com 

From out of Fort Andross to a new location on Pleasant Street in Brunswick, we welcome the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association (MCFA), an industry-led non-profit that works on behalf of the community-based fishermen of Maine. MCFA, formed in 2006 as the Midcoast Fishermen’s Association, is now made up of fishermen from the New Hampshire border to Canadian Border with the mission to “identify and foster ways to restore the fisheries of the Gulf of Maine and sustain Maine’s fishing communities for future generations”. The organization recently purchased a property at 93 Pleasant Street, giving them more flexibility and accessibility. 

With the many projects and causes they facilitate, it’s hard to imagine just how broad the scope of the operation is until you visit their website and discover just how involved the organization is with the many aspects of the fishing industry. Executive Director Ben Martens and Program Assistant Kalyn Bickerman-Martens invited us to their new location in the fast-paced corridor of outer Pleasant Street (formerly a law office). MCFA made the purchase back in October of 2020 and have made many improvements since then. Removing peeling wallpaper from water-stained walls, installing new heat pumps for efficiency, and removing carpeting and refinishing beautiful pine & birch flooring were just a few of the projects that Ben & Kalyn have tackled (all this while keeping up with day-to-day business, including raising a family). 

Ben and Kalyn look forward to getting back to business and hosting meetings at the new location. “We are looking forward to when all this (renovation) work is done” he states.  The location features ample parking as is, but Ben plans to make better use out of the space the property has and expand the parking. They also have a small office space with shared restroom and a kitchen that is available for rent — adding “landlord” to their already full list of responsibilities. “It will make a great space for someone-and we think we’ll be pretty good landlords” says Ben. 

We welcome MCFA to our growing list of members, and are so happy to help spread the word about their work. Please visit their website at www.mainecoastfishermen.org to learn more about them and how you could become involved. 

June 11, 2021:  From the Cellar to Ship City Fitness-Welcome our newest member!

The Brunswick Downtown Association is pleased to welcome Ship City Fitness as our newest business member in June!  We had the pleasure of meeting with new owner Branden McCoy recently to learn about his business and his plans for the future. 

You may know the former gym as Cellar of Fitness-originally opened in 1994 by local brothers Matt & Dave Cost, and it has been a staple of downtown Brunswick since then.  While passing ownership several times throughout the years it has always remained a local gym.  Meanwhile in Bath, Ship City Fitness opened as a Martial Arts studio in 2004 and became Ship City CrossFit in 2012.  Branden, having graduated FIU with a bachelor’s degree in Health Care Administration in Miami in 2017, learned of an internship opportunity back in Maine and moved back to Bath.  Having over 12 years’ experience in Martial Arts, Branden re-introduced the sport to Ship City shortly after returning to Maine, and within a very short time later found himself in a position to purchase the business.  With Branden’s background in physical therapy and a passion for fitness, he saw the opportunity to focus on strength training as part of the gym’s offerings and changed the name to Ship City Fitness-and gained a new following.

Sometime in 2019, Branden learned that the owner of Brunswick’s Cellar of Fitness, Brittany Blakemore, was considering selling the business and he considered the opportunity to move Ship City Fitness to Brunswick.  “The (Cellar of Fitness) had much more space and equipment than Ship City, including parking” Branden notes- “and I liked the location in Brunswick”.  Branden purchased the business in July of 2020 and has not looked back.  Branden added more equipment, including free weights and other non-traditional fitness equipment such as tractor-tires & Battle ropes-focusing on strength training.  While he did not intend to change the dynamic immediately, he has seen the membership grow and more members using the weight-lifting gear then when he started.  Branden realized the value of one of the Cellar’s previous trainers, Chad and hired him on as a personal trainer. 

The facility still boasts a large variety of aerobic machines, and while much of the equipment is original, he finds that they are still in great condition and working well.  Membership at Ship City has become more diverse-including pre-teens to senior plus adults joining at the new location and keeping Branden busy.  He installed a 24-hour access system to allow members to work out on their schedule, but Branden is always “on call”.  He’s a busy man-providing personal training classes at Ship City and still maintaining his Martial Arts classes in Bath, but he loves what he does.  “My goal is to make overall fitness & strength training accessible to as many people as possible” he states.  As for looking ahead to the future-he hopes to be able to make his gym more accessible, add group classes of all sizes, while keeping an emphasis on strength training.  “Something that no other (local) facility can offer”.

We welcome Branden to Brunswick and The Brunswick Downtown Association.  You can find more information about Ship City Fitness at shipcityfitness.com  or call 207-373-0800 FMI.

May 26, 2021:  Spark Cycling comes to Brunswick Landing

Growth at The Brunswick Landing continues!  Spark Cycling Studio joins the recent burst of developments at The Brunswick Landing. With the recent move by Wild Oats Bakery & Café last winter plus Martin’s Point Health Care, the new plaza at the entrance including Dunkin Donuts and Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, Merry Meeting Kitchen and more all within the last year, we are excited to welcome our new member – Spark Cycling Studio!  Located in the front portion of the building that also houses Seeds of Independence at 29 Burbank Avenue, owner Brittany Hyde opened on Saturday, May 15th after a BDA ribbon cutting the night before. 

We had the pleasure of meeting Brittany and her family as they put the finishing touches on the studio in preparation of the opening.  A warm, brightly lit entrance welcomes cyclists to the studio followed by locker rooms for gearing up.  Once you enter the biking studio you know you’re in for something special-dark walls & ceilings with the army of stationary bikes is as exciting as entering a theme-park ride! 

The instructor bike at the front of the room is showcased by a neon wave of light…the instructor gives everyone a quick orientation to today’s class and then the music kicks in from the tower of speakers and you’re off! But don’t let the atmosphere intimidate you, it’s designed to motivate and make everyone feel comfortable as Britt & her instructors are out to make your experience inclusive. 

A few years ago, Brittany realized that she was happiest on the days that she exercised with a group of people rather than on her own.  Finding herself “between jobs” recently, the idea of a cycling studio presented itself, so she began exploring the idea further.  She found Tom Wright-a Landing developer and former Executive Director of Seeds of Independence, known for helping local start-up businesses on The Landing, back in September of 2020.  “Tom offered me space on the spot and while I did look at a few other options, 29 Burbank seemed like the best bet. Tom is a fantastic human, a huge supporter of women-owned small businesses, and a leader in the community, especially Brunswick Landing – it was a no-brainer!” says Brittany. 

“The renovation took six weeks, and it took me about two weeks to get the space ready for opening day. My background in operations and event management made this part fun – I knew what I wanted it to look and feel like, so executing it was exciting. I had so much help from family and friends, especially my dad! He worked tirelessly to build the platform that the instructor bike sits on, spent many hours tweaking the audio equipment with me, putting together furniture, hanging balloon garlands, running through practice classes, etc.

From my group of instructors to my attorney-friend who gave me hours of free legal advice, to my friends who live far away but have purchased merchandise and asked how they could support long term, everyone has been so encouraging of this venture, and I’m so appreciative. I’m excited to continue to meet members of the greater Brunswick community and to welcome them into Spark Cycling. The people we’ve met so far have been enthusiastic, brave, and truly people that I want to be around. What a gift!” She is most excited about building a space where daily movement is prioritized and recognized for its value. Britt’s dream for Spark is that everyone can find their place in the studio. She wants you to feel at-home the moment you walk into the building, a new ‘family’ that you belong to.   Britt invites everyone to check out the studio and try a class out-you might just get hooked!  Visit www.sparkcyclingstudio.com www.facebook.com/sparkcyclingstudio or instagram.com/spark.cycling.maine for more information including upcoming class schedules, or drop them an email at info@sparkcyclingstudio.com.  


May 12, 2021:  More new Members to celebrate!

The month of April, in true Maine form, is a month where things come to life. The Brunswick Downtown Association was very fortunate to welcome more new business members in April and women-owned!

If you would like to get off the beaten path (or out of the way of tourists) and see what Maine has to offer, then Red Cloak Tours is for you!  Currently (due to pandemic) offering Walking Tele Tours, Tidbit Tasting Parties, Virtual Presentations and Custom Tours. The Red Cloak Experience, with professional storytellers, is the perfect addition to your Maine getaway. 

Owner/founder Sally Lobkowicz began offering walking tours in the mid-coast area in 2007 featuring the first Maine Haunted History tour that year just in time for Halloween.  Since then, she and her husband Greg Latimer have offered a variety of historical, foodie and sometimes whimsical walking tours of many of mid-coast’s popular destinations as far north as Bar Harbor and south to Kennebunk. A researcher and writer specializing in genealogy and history, Sally spends her downtime researching local history and working with new venues to provide unique experiences for both locals and visitors to Maine. The popularity of the tours has increased over the years and with Covid hitting in 2020, Sally quickly shifted gears to host Tele-Tours-her tour is guided live by conference call as the participants walk the route.  This model has been quite successful and will continue, however Sally still looks forward to donning her traditional red cloak and getting back to live walking tours as soon as she feels it is safe for everyone.

For more information and to book a tour, please visit https://redcloaktours.com/ or call 207-380-3806.  Get out and explore parts of Maine you thought you knew this summer!

We also welcome Sundara Pathways LLC to the growing list of BDA Members!  Founded in 2015 by Leyza Toste, while still working in a career in higher education human resources she started focusing on that which she truly loved doing (helping others), through Life Coaching & Reiki.  Leyza is a Master Reiki practitioner, board certified life coach (BCC), and holds a certification by Peggy Huddleston to facilitate the Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster mind-body technique workshop. Leyza’s background in human resources led her decision to establish Sundara Pathways with emphasis on helping people with issues-whether it is preparing for surgery, coping with life’s ups & downs, or generally looking to live a more fulfilled life.  As for how the pandemic influenced her work, Leyza found the life coaching was best done online.  She can meet with folks no matter where they live with the bonus of no added travel time, a plus for those with busy lives. For those that do not know, Reiki (pronounced ‘ray-key’) is a gentle, non-invasive, technique for stress reduction and relaxation has roots in Japan dating back to the early 1900s. 

Leyza currently offers Reiki, in person, within the office of Doctor Holly J. Brown, DAOM, L.Ac, at the Parkview Campus, 311 Maine Street. She offers remote consultation for life coaching and Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster. “I love what I do, and I do what I do because I love helping others” -the true testament to the saying if you do what you love it will never be “work”!  Please visit https://www.sundarapathways.com/ to learn more about Leyza’s offerings, and perhaps schedule a session today!


April 28, 2021:  A Community-focused concept: Merry Meeting Kitchen opens this week!

You may have visited Turtle Rock Farm at 39 Burbank Avenue in the past, especially when they hosted the Brunswick Landing Farmers Market on Fridays.  A new collaboration has emerged-officially opening Wednesday, April 28, and is called the Merry Meeting Kitchen.  It is a market, community kitchen, meeting space and more focusing on locally sourced food & other products.

Merry Meeting Kitchen staff

Rental and Community Manager Amy Fagan described the renovated space as all the above, but mostly as a place for the community to come together.  Amy along with Merry Meeting Kitchen Board Member Jennifer Legnini and Retail Manager Courtney Sonia greeted the staff of BDA as well as Sally Costello and Emily Ruger from the Town of Brunswick’s Economic Development department for a tour of the facility prior to opening on their first day.

The retail space is filled with local products from snacks, jellies, soaps, coffee and more, most of which you will recognize as locally created.  There are vegan & gluten-free offerings in addition to the many organic items. Directly behind the retail space is the community kitchen-a complete commercial kitchen space available for rent-perhaps to create your own seasonal jam or jelly or cater an event at the greenhouse space next to the building.  In addition, they have a pizza oven that could also be rented for any event.  

The greenhouse is a large venue available for rent for events and was recently used for an engagement party-it can seat up to 70 (once guidelines allow).  “The idea of connecting the local community to farmers and producers was our guiding principle” says Amy. 

“In addition to the greenhouse and the kitchen, we plan on adding raised bed gardens and can see any part of our space being used for small or large gatherings, tea parties, anything that brings the community together”. 

Merry Meeting Kitchen currently works with several of the local farmers for local products but as the growing season comes into play, they plan on incorporating more farmer’s goods in the store.  With the Saturday Farmer’s Market returning to the parking lot behind Flight Deck Brewing this Saturday, they anticipate people will continue shopping at their shop after perusing the farmer’s market.  There are many more collaborations in the works with multiple farms and vendors so one can expect to see Merry Meeting Kitchen itself “grow” as the summer months arrive. 

Currently open Wednesday through Friday 11 am to 6 pm, Saturday 11 am to 4 pm.  There’s an option to order from local producers for pick up by visiting line.ca/merry-meeting. For more information about Merry Meeting Kitchen, events & information sessions, visit www.merrymeetingkitchen.com/ or call then at 207-446-4027.

We at the Brunswick Downtown Association are so happy to see the growth taking place at The Brunswick Landing and the collaboration between the many businesses such as Flight Deck Brewing, Wild Oats Bakery & Cafe and now the Merry Meeting Kitchen, making The Brunswick Landing a destination of its own within the Brunswick community.  And coming soon we will be featuring yet another new business right next door to Merry Meeting Kitchen, Spark Cycling Studio!  Be sure to stay tuned to our website or Facebook & Instagram for their big opening announcement soon!

April 14, 2021:  Root Rind & Petal, her story

We at the Brunswick Downtown Association as well as our community are once again blessed to see another new business rise from the pandemic year and open up shop in Brunswick.  Root Rind & Petal is a quaint new shop located at 8 Pleasant Street with a welcoming porch and mini garden at the front.

Owner Jennifer Fitzpatrick has been in the location since March of 2020 of last year, opening the doors in December of 2020.  The store is filled with items that please the senses-the diffuser filling the air with the day’s essential oil, soft music fills the air while you browse.  Each display is a mini showcase, neatly arranged to highlight the wide variety of items.

The story behind her business started in 2015 when her youngest son Nathan was diagnosed with pediatric cancer.  As he endured the year of treatments, Jennifer began seeking alternative medicines for both physical and mental healing, for both her and her son.  Her diligence led her to many discoveries that she feels made the recovery process so much easier to deal with.  One such discovery was Lucy’s Love Bus-a non-profit organization in Amesbury Massachusetts offering alternative therapies for children with cancer.  As her son began the recovery process, she began sharing her story of healing with others going through similar situations, and for the past five years has offered group sessions and classes to people from all over the state of Maine, sharing her knowledge and experience with anyone that finds themselves in similar situations.  Each Wednesday evening is Workshop Wednesday from 5:30 to 6:30 PM at the store.

Today the shop is alive and packed with so many unique items including Aromatherapy items, crystals & minerals, soaps & candles, books and more.  You will be welcomed by the sights, smells, and sounds of relaxing, natural therapies.  With Mother’s Day coming up, have Jennifer put together a custom basket for you (order soon).  For more information on her events & information sessions, visit her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/rootrindandpetal or stop in Wednesday through Saturday from Noon to 6:00 PM.



March 31, 2021:  This week: BDA is on the move; Outdoor Dining

Returns; Welcome new members! by Tom Barter

After nearly 17 years in our 2nd floor office above Norway Savings Bank, the Brunswick Downtown Association moved our office to a much larger, first floor space at Senter Place. We said goodbye to our “roost” this week at Norway Savings Bank at 85 Maine Street, leaving behind the legacy office space of the foundation of the BDA, as the name was changed from Brunswick Intown Group, or BIG in 2004.  With the addition of a full-time executive director (Stephanie Slocum) and the need for affordable office space, Norway Savings Bank offered the office at an extremely reasonable cost.  As the years went by, additional staff was needed to handle the growing membership, marketing and event needs as BDA continued to develop many of the current programs and events that we still host today.  For the last several years the 2-room, 460 square foot space housed 3 full time employees and supply storage, and it became obvious more room was needed.  Additionally, many of the event supplies had been stored in the 2nd floor empty office space above Key Bank on Maine Street-with limited access and labor-intensive shuffling for many events.  As the saying goes “timing is everything”, space became available at Senter Place this year. 

The new space includes a separate area with enough room to store all our event supplies from Key Bank, giving us unlimited, first-floor access when needed.  We are sad to leave our former space and will miss our Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Bath Brunswick neighbors as well as the ever-accommodating staff at Norway Savings Bank, but are happy to be part of the Senter Place “family” and be more in the heart of downtown Brunswick.  We welcome anyone to stop by and say hello as soon as we are fully organized and ready for visitors, hopefully by the end of April. We hope to host an open house sometime this year.  We can still be reached at 207-729-4439 and mailing will remain PO Box 15 in Brunswick.

Outdoor Dining Returns: With the tease of warmer weather, we saw the breakout of tables at many of our downtown restaurants and the return of the Mall food trucks for those that enjoy the fresh air, distancing or just the chance to get outdoors!  From Pepper’s Landing at Cook’s Corner, Fat Boy Drive-In on Bath Road, Flight Deck Brewing at Brunswick Landing, to Scarlet Begonia’s and Byrne’s Irish Pub on Station Avenue.  As for downtown, you can now dine outside (as weather allows) at Bohemian Coffee House, Grampa’s Garden, Broadway Deli, Portland Pie, Gelato Fiasco, Little Dog Coffee Shop, Bombay Mahal, Big E’s Burritos, and soon (April 14th) Joshua’s Restaurant.  Many feature outdoor heaters, and most locations also can be found on a new website, Maine Outdoor Dine @ https://www.maineoutdoordine.com/ a new site highlighting Maine’s outdoor dining options. 

As always, our local restaurants have survived only because of local support, so keep on ordering local!

Welcome New Members:  Last but not least we want to welcome a few new members this week: Root, Rind & Petal is a new shop at 8 Pleasant Street featuring Essential Oils, Stones and Tools for Health and Wellness. Open 12-6 Wednesday through Saturday; call (207) 680-5509.

Merry Meeting Kitchen is a local marketplace, online network and Community Kitchen.  Not quite open yet but offering a variety of local food items for pick-up on Friday afternoon at 39 Burbank Avenue (former site of the winter farmer’s market) at Brunswick Landing.  (207) 522-6276

Red Cloak Tours joined the BDA this week and offers historical tours of 12 Maine towns including Brunswick, featuring TeleTours or live guided tours to allow social distancing as well. 

Look for a full write-up on these new businesses with pictures in the next Membership News & Updates on April 14th!

3/15/2021 Coming Soon: The all-new Tontine Mall!

Have you wondered how the construction was going at the Tontine Mall or wondered when will construction be complete?”  We may have some answers for you…We were invited by property owner Dan Catlin of Commercial Properties to view the renovation progress at the Tontine Mall recently.  We met Dan at the entrance to the Eveningstar Cinema / The Music Center walked up to the former Wild Oats & dining space on the 2nd floor. 

The entire floor has been completely gutted (except for Indrani’s space) and was teaming with construction workers weaving in & out.  Although there is framework up for the some of the interior walls, Dan explains the layout.  The biggest change is the dining area-after years of facing north with a view of the rear parking lot, it will now be on the south side with lots of windows.  Dan shows us one of the two new windows that are nearly 12-feet-wide and open easily (to nearly 12’ long), overlooking the planned outdoor dining area.  The windows were an unplanned expense, but Dan feels people will appreciate the access to fresh air in the warmer months. 

Next, he points out the ceiling-made of hemlock boards and support beams, and after having an engineer review the materials and deemed them fully safe, he decided to clean them up and leave them exposed to highlight some of the history of the building.  Although Dan has not finalized the future tenant of this space, he hints that he is close to an agreement that, if secured, could result in some type of bakery and possibly a butcher shop.  The remaining space on the 2nd floor is currently being leased to Homes & Harbors (now Engel & Volkers Real Estate) and Indrani’s-the latter of which will also feature expanded space.  Of note-the primary entrance to the 2nd floor will be on the south side (near where the entrance to Wild Oats was) and will also feature an elevator for full access to all floors.

After this we proceeded to the basement, or 1st floor as it is officially called.  Again, we are amazed to see an entirely gutted floor-all interior walls have been removed as well as most of the concrete floor.  Dan explains that once they began the project last fall and faced problems with the existing sewer (which ran on pumps that had to be pumped out several times per year) and water system, he decided at that point that he could either invest “just enough” to get the building up to code or “go all in” and make a true, long-term investment in the property.  He decided on the latter-making the new Tontine Mall a new, modern, and efficient space for his tenants and their customers.  “We started by running all electrical from the pole underground (which also included the Riley Insurance and Sotheby’s buildings).  Next, we realized we needed an all new, gravity-feed septic system that could handle the flow without pumping” he stated.  And then the water-which was currently a 2-inch feed, he decided to go with 6-inch water feed lines to provide more than enough water pressure for every tenant, current and future.  This required bringing in mini excavators into the basement to dig up all water & septic lines and make the changes.  Another necessary adjustment made in the basement was the construction of small support walls to shore up the existing concrete & steel beams.  This will also afford him flexibility in the construction of interior walls as needed in the future.  As we visited the crews were busy removing the remaining concrete flooring to prepare for the new concrete pouring in the weeks ahead.  Dan’s vision for now is to leave the 1st floor as open as possible as it will be a common space for some of the tenants until future spaces are leased.

As we ended the tour, we asked about the 3rd floor-most everyone knows he plans to build apartments there to add to the housing availability in downtown Brunswick.   “They (contractors) will be starting around the first of April” he says, and when asked when he anticipates the construction of the 1st and 2nd floors to be completed, we were shocked to hear him say that construction could finish by the end of March with some spaces opening as soon as April, and the 3rd floor could be ready by mid to late summer.   

So, if you have passed by the Tontine Mall these past few months and wondered why things seemed to be moving slowly, now you know-the entire Tontine Mall, when completed, was a ground-up restoration and not just a few renovations here and there.  We are excited to see the finished project-including the new 2nd floor dining area, outdoor patio, updated exterior, and the new apartments!  If you would like more information about the Tontine Mall or are interested in leasing a space there, you can sign up for their newsletter at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfdrLvxWJHTis4NLp8MnW-C5Vbz65eLXj24aqmxFFryDHQHQA/viewform .  We look forward to the completed project and another beautiful investment in downtown Brunswick!

3/03/2021: Welcome Bay Bowls to Brunswick! No, it’s not ice cream

We welcome Bay Bowls, our newest downtown business to open (yes, during the pandemic) and new members of the Brunswick Downtown Association.  Located at the corner of Maine Street and Station Avenue at the former Cote’s Ice Cream building, Bay Bowls brings yet another new cuisine style to one of the most diverse dining line-ups you will find on any Main street in USA. 

What is a Bay Bowl?  I recently visited with the owner, Sal Matari while he was preparing to open the shop.  First, I can personally attest that Bay Bowls are one of the most delicious bowls of healthy food I’ve ever tasted (yes healthy).  But don’t let the word healthy scare you from trying one!  A Bay Bowl could be breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert because of the many ingredients that will leave you both satisfied and, well yes-feeling good!

The story behind Bay Bowls is another story of someone betting on the Brunswick community and of taking a risk.  Owner Sal Matari worked in the clothing industry for over 30 years primarily in New York City; his daughter, Leah moved to Bowdoinham about 5 years ago and attended Bowdoin College.  Leah & her friends craved the Acai smoothies and bowls they enjoyed in NY and beyond, and often drove to Portland to find them.  When Leah saw the vacant Cote’s space last year, she texted her family with the info. “I never thought about owning or running my own business” Sal says while chopping the fresh strawberries at the counter. But one thing led to another and soon a lease was signed.  Sal, with help from his family, spent a significant amount of time and capital on renovating the Cote’s space, working through the summer and fall to get things ready to open. 

Things were ready to go by early January, and they officially opened on Saturday, January 30th, with a line that wrapped around the corner onto Station Avenue!  Why open an Acai bowl & smoothie shop in January?  Sal’s response is simple “If not when you’re ready, then when?”, and so they launched in the coldest months of the year. Since opening (Sal & family) are very pleased with the support they’ve received from both the town and the community.  They have seen people of all ages come out to try the many varieties of bowls from the menu and have enjoyed many repeat customers already.  Things are going so well, in fact, that Sal is already dreaming of branching out and leaving his clothing career behind.

One thing they want you to know-this is NOT another ice cream shop.  As Sal recalls a conversation with a local couple that stopped by during construction, Sal tried to describe what the prime ingredients were like and had to use the analogy of sorbet, which the couple then said “Oh, so another ice cream shop?”.  So just what is a Bay Bowl made of?  The key ingredients are Acai (pronounced “Ah-Sigh-Ee”) berries and Pitaya (Dragon fruit) berries, which are blended to make a smooth, creamy base for all bowls and smoothies.  Sal won’t reveal his source, but he knows he is getting the best there is and has to drive hours to get it.  Add to that a selection of fresh fruit (Sal plans on locally sourcing when available) choices including strawberries, blueberries, coconut, pineapple, banana, etc. and a few special topping ingredients and you have a Bay Bowl!  As you enjoy the bowl and the Acai & Pitaya start to melt the flavors blend together and you don’t want it to end!  Rather than go into more detail of the ingredients and the health benefits, I’ll let you try one for yourself while chatting with Sal and the staff, and you’ll wonder why you never had one before!

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 https://wwgearexchange.com/ , 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 Lynda.com-an 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!

2021 Update: the doors were opened to the public in May and things are back to “normal”!

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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© 2013 Brunswick Downtown Association