The holiday season is an important time for retail shops in the Lincolnville Beach area that remain open long past the summer months.

This small stretch of the coast is picturesque year-round, with the wide open views of the public beach on one side, brick sidewalks on both sides of Atlantic Highway (Route 1), restaurants and stores. While many businesses in the beach area close after the summer season, over the past eight years, Beyond the Sea, Lincolnville Fine Art Gallery and Antiques, and Green Tree Coffee and Tea have opened retail stores, keeping company with year-round standards The Whale's Tooth Pub, the Beach Store convenience store and Dot's.

Beyond the Sea (beyondtheseamaine.com, 789-5555) is in its fifth year at Lincolnville Beach, selling new and second-hand books and gifts. Owner Nanette Gionfriddo said the holiday season represents an important part of the store's business. She has stocked the store with a wide variety of products for customers to chose from, including two cases of new books and new gift items, and is open from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Dec. 23, and for last-minute shoppers, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 24. After that, the store closes until spring.

Gionfroddo has created a store that encourages browsing. Rather than compete with online booksellers, the go-to for people who want a specific book, she works hard to fill her shelves with great books of all kinds for customers to discover. The store has a large inventory of books about Maine and by Maine authors, as well as new books selected from smaller publishers that Gionfriddo trusts, including Islandport Press, Tilbury House, Maine Authors Publishing, Countryman Press and Persephone Book Co., which publishes out-of-print books.

On the door is a quotation from a customer, who said, "Oh I get it. You don't come here to buy a specific book. You come here to find a book you'll love."

Before buying a new book for the store, she researches reader reviews online. "The books have to have very good, compelling reviews, or we don't put them on the shelf," she said. She even prints the reader reviews, and tucks them into the volumes, to help customers find the type of book they will enjoy. She also researches the second-hand books before she will put them out on the shelves.

Beyond the Sea spans two floors and is intentionally designed to be a place where customers can stay as long as they like. There are places to sit and browse through books, look at the large selection of cards, including those with images of Maine and even Lincolnville Beach, try on hats and scarves, and have something to eat in the cafe area. The building's location could not be more unusual: it sits on cribwork over the salt marsh. From the windows of the cafe are views of the tranquil, reflective waters of the marsh and mountains to the west, and across the street the the sand beach and bay.

When Gionfriddo moved her business from Belfast to Lincolnville Beach five years ago, she was not sure she would stay. But that uncertainty has changed over time. "Every day I stayed here, this building and Lincolnville Beach stole my heart, until I knew I wanted to be here and to make a success here."

This year Gionfriddo added homemade foods and baked goods to Beyond the Sea's offerings. The soups and stews, meatball and Italian cold cut and cheese subs, lasagna, carrot cake and dark chocolate cake, pie, cookies, Nestle Toll House chocolate chip bars and hot chocolate provide additional reasons to linger.

Giofriddo's goal is to offer "something of quality, whether it be a book, a gift, a piece of original art, or food. Everything has to be very good at what it's trying to do," she said, "because I want people to be very pleased."

Lincolnville Fine Art Gallery and Antiques (lincolnvillefineartgallery.com, 789-5000) is in its sixth year at Lincolnville Beach, though owner Dwight Wass has had various businesses in the area for many years. The gallery, which is open year-round, features the paintings and sculptures of a select group of known and new artists. Small antiques that can be packed up and taken home in a suitcase as a reminder of a vacation on the Maine coast are featured, along with traditional braided rugs and jewelry. The gallery has regular hours and offers private showings by appointment.

Lincolnville Fine Art Gallery features a selection of seasoned artists who have been working on their craft for decades, including Jill Hoy and Philip Barter. It is the only gallery that carries the paintings of the late David Henning Larson, Wass said. Renata Carabello, who used to teach at the University of Maine, is another of the seasoned artists.

New to the gallery is the work of Deborah Martin, whose paintings feature the make-believe Von Thistle family. Another new artist featured is Holly Smiths, whose work was hung two weeks ago, and who sold a painting in her first week at the gallery.

Wass features his own work, assemblages and three-dimensional figures and animals made from found materials. Whimsical creatures made of found beach wood by Claire Perry are another popular item.

Wass also appreciates the special qualities of Lincolnville Beach. He notes that there are not many public beaches on the ocean, right on Route 1. In any season, the beach is a place to stop and watch the water, sky, birds, boats and freighters, and the wide brick sidewalks are good for taking a stroll.

Green Tree Coffee and Tea of Maine, (greentreecoffee.com, 706-7908) opened its retail store nearly eight years ago at 2456 Atlantic Highway in Lincolnville Beach. Owner John Ostrand said this has been a very good year for the retail store, and business is up from last year. "This year, the month of December has been as strong our summer months," he said. While the online and retail business are equally important, Ostrand, who founded the online business in 2002, still considers the retail store relatively new. "We're still in a growth curve," he said.

Inside the retail store, the aroma of coffee welcomes, while the soothing white noise of a coffee roaster thrums in the back room. Green Tree sells a large selection of its coffees by the pound, including the popular Dark Harbor, "Origin Select" coffees made from a specific bean, such as Ethopian Sidamo or Kenya AA French, special occasion Christmas Cheer, Holiday Blend and organic coffee. Loose teas of many types, from black and decaffeinated to flavored, herbal, organic, scented and special blend, are also available.

Coffee and espresso drinks and tea are served, along with a selection of cookies.

Green Tree Coffee and Tea is a year-round business, open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.