Business is blooming in Camden

By Karen Brace | Apr 28, 2016

In 2011, we gained a new resident from out west who decided to make Camden his home. He opened a business, joined the local downtown business group and began to make connections. As his office became established, his client base grew. Like many businesspeople do when they launch a new enterprise, this new resident had to go out and make his own way.

With his outgoing personality, he was able to do that effectively. Later though, he shared with fellow business operators in downtown Camden his experiences. He’d felt upon his arrival that the welcome mat had not been fully extended the way it could be for someone coming into town.

Acting from ideas he’d brought from other locations, he took the initiative to create a real welcome for new businesspeople in the form of an event. This way, he felt, others would be embraced when they either opened a new business here, purchased an existing one, or relocated for the first time to Camden. His welcome plan worked.

We now have an annual event called “Business is Blooming” that honors the new businesses that have opened in Camden over the past year. May 19-22 will be the 5th Annual Business is Blooming weekend. The event grows more vibrant each year. The 2016 Business is Blooming will feature sidewalk sales, the Camden Garden Club’s annual “Plants for Scholars” sale, children’s activities at the library, and an event in the Opera House where we’ll all have a chance to formally welcome Camden’s 10 new businesses to town.

This downtown celebration has become a true sign of spring. It is intentionally placed in May, during a season with a natural celebratory feel: longer days, green hillsides, pansies in flower boxes and the downtown becoming busier. The hope is to pull the shoulder season back so that as the years move forward, the town’s busier season will begin earlier than Memorial Day. Business is Blooming is the only event during the year when Camden features sidewalk sales — so May 20-22 will be an ideal weekend to come downtown and shop local!

From my perspective as community development director, an aspect that makes the origin of Business is Blooming especially meaningful is that it’s a story where a local person noted something that could be improved; and, he didn’t just notice it: he had a great idea for improving it. Moreover, even as a brand new resident, he went out and made his idea happen.

Sometimes we think it might be impossible to implement great ideas, that barriers may stand in the way. However, many have found that our town is actually a place where small ideas can catch on and grow to make a real difference.

Our community contains several supportive groups of people with open minds and a willingness to listen and assist. One such organization, the Camden Area Business Group (CABG, affectionately known as “Cabbage”), traditionally hosts the opening Business is Blooming reception to honor our new businesses. This year’s kickoff event will be held Thursday, May 19 at the Opera House. Following the reception, the Camden International Film Festival will present a boatbuilding film called “Vanishing Sails” to highlight the importance of Camden’s working waterfront.

The founders of Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding will speak prior to the start of the film, which is sponsored by Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors. Lyman-Morse has recently revitalized the harbor, supporting jobs and joining with others to welcome those who arrive by water to enjoy all that Camden has to offer. If you haven’t met Drew and Cabot Lyman yet, this event will be the perfect time to come say hello. The movie ticket is also a pass to the third floor reception. If you come early enough, you can mingle with several new business owners and others who will be there to welcome them to town.

Now, thanks to the individual who started Business is Blooming, Camden has a tried and true welcome mat that’s rolled out each spring. Flint Decker of the New England Real Estate Company was the new businessperson with the great idea, and we owe him our gratitude for getting Business is Blooming off the ground.

For details of all the events of the weekend, check out camdenmaineexperience.com/content/events/business_is_blooming.asp or click on this link: Business is Blooming schedule of events.

I’d like to add a note of congratulations to other new business owners who. in addition to Lyman-Morse. have opened their doors since last spring. If you’re not able to attend the welcome event at the Opera House on May 19, please stop in and welcome them yourself at their places of business — (though a couple of these are not quite open yet!)

— 16 Bay View Street Hotel. A truly lovely new downtown inn with event spaces, including one on the rooftop. 16 Bay View is also the home of The Vintage Room, featuring drinks and light food in a cozy atmosphere.

— Donnie B's, A unique gift store that features collectibles and antiques, located on Elm Street between the Town Office and Zoot Coffee.

— The Drouthy Bear opened at 50 Elm St. within the past year, offering authentic Scottish specialties. (“Drouthy” means thirsty in case you’ve been wondering!)

— Fireside Restaurant will soon open down on the Public Landing, offering wood-fired pizza and home delivery.

— LE Leonard’s moved to downtown Camden from its former location in Rockport. Check Nancy Leonard’s wonderful selections of clothing and jewelry at the corner of Elm and Washington streets.

— Midcoast Medicine and Wellness opened at High Mountain Hall on Mountain Street just past the library. They feature a variety of interesting health care options.

— The Rhumb Line. A new restaurant opening soon at Lyman-Morse will be operated by the owners of the Slipway Restaurant in Thomaston.

— The Schooner Olad has a new location at 29 Main St. where you can purchase tickets for day sails on the vessels Olad and Owl, as well as nautical items and souvenirs.

— The Sea Dog, owned by Shipyard Brewery, will be coming soon to the longtime location of Cappy’s Restaurant. The Sea Dog’s management team will be on-hand May 19 to meet community members. Perhaps you’ll be one of them!

We are fortunate to live in a place that features a generally healthy economy, but it doesn’t happen by itself. Our upcoming Business is Blooming weekend is a good time to remember that our local businesses need your support year-round to thrive, provide jobs, and support families. While we extend our welcome mat to all these new businesspeople as well as their employees, we can’t forget to thank you — the residents of the community — for all you do to make our town vibrant in all 12 months of the year!

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