Local businesses adapted creatively in Covid

Travis and Lindsay Hill

by Jeanne Marquis

Maine Made Marketplace, an online store featuring Maine’s artwork and hand crafted products, grew out of necessity when, due to the pandemic, regional arts shows were cancelled. It was the brainchild of Travis and Lindsay Hill, who are leathersmiths of Hashtag Leatherworks.

In the Spring of 2020, the Hills saw art shows being cancelled or postponed one by one and knew how important these seasonal shows are to the income of Maine’s artisans. It had been a longtime concept of Travis to make a collective of artists available in one place, as he is a digital marketer in his career. This year, necessity brought this concept into reality.

Travis and his wife, Lindsay, moved quickly — both optimistically believe in the adage that ‘when one door closes another opens.’ They also knew that craftspeople would need an outlet this year to replace the income from the shows that oftentimes is their sole income supporting both their families and their craft. They reached out to artists as early as the third week in March.

By April 2, their LLC was active and the website went live shortly afterwards. Word-of-mouth grew in the community of Maine artists and craftspeople. They were soon receiving requests for submissions, so to keep the quality high and the product categories evenly stocked standards comparable to a typical art show were established. Maine Made Marketplace was open May 1 in time for Mother’s Day gifts and to send Maine-made artwork to family members who may not be able to travel to Maine this summer.

Maine Made Marketplace is also open for curbside pick up for online purchases on MaineMadeMarketplace.com. They would like locals to pass this information to summer residents who may be looking for an alternative to the art shows this year.

Mike Crommett orders at Back’s Dairy Bar drive-thru in South China. contributed photo

Back’s Dairy Bar, 390 Route 3, South China, has been a summer icon in South China since 1989. However, this spring it was clear that this summer was going to be different. As they were opening in the beginning of the season, the owners learned of the new retail protocols: keeping customers 6 feet apart and the recommendation for masks. They opened for a few weeks, and learned quickly how difficult it would be to encourage customers to adhere to the new procedures. They voluntarily closed not wanting to be part of the problem. During Back’s brief closure, the owners worked with a contractor and brainstormed an ideal solution: a drive-through window.

This may seem like a simple fix, but it was more complicated than just adding a window. It meant re-configuring how they operated inside the building with a realignment of equipment and additional staff. The owners drove around the parking lot to plot out the ideal traffic flow for customers. This planning paid off making their reopening a success and a smooth transition to their drive-through operation.

Full Fork Farm adapted early on to the retail challenges of Covid by establishing a self-service, roadside farmstand. The farmstand features modern conveniences of refrigeration, freezer space and the digital capability to swipe your credit card.

Customers are able to safely purchase farm fresh produce from Full Fork and other local sources. Their intention, according to their website, is to make the stand as close to a one-stop shop as possible. In addition to the fruits and veggies grown on their own land, they offer maple syrup, meat, bread, artisan flours, milk, cheese and eggs from regional producers.

Adaptation and sustainability come naturally to Full Fork farm as they practice full circle farming. They preserve the nutrients of the soil with organic techniques and protect the quality of future crops through seed stewardship, saving the seeds from the very best plants. To them nutrition is full circle — healthy soil means more nutritious produce. In keeping with their philosophy of sustainability, it makes sense that Full Fork was able to quickly adapt to the new needs of their local customers. Their farmstand is located at 154 Dutton Road, in China.


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