Shop for history and nostalgia in Southern Maine

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By Lisa K. Berton

The states that makeup New England; Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, are a collection of artistry, stories of survival, invention, and amusement. The fresh sea air and rocky coast of Maine attract visitors from near and far, especially during Summer. Another highlight is the vast number of privately owned shops featuring vintage goods, antiques, art, maritime artifacts, and discounted everyday items - some regional.

Avid shoppers have heard of Kittery, Maine for their many outlet stores and Trading Post. Ogonquit draws in fans of live music and theatrical productions. In between the two, lies York, famous for Nubble Light, quite likely the most photographed lighthouse in the United States. Likewise, York is also where one can locate the hard-to-find and put-a-smile-on-your-face paraphernalia.

Drive North on Interstate 95 and almost 4 miles from the New Hampshire/Maine border sits a visitor information center. Stop in to pick up guide books and first-hand recommendations from Mainers. Restrooms are certainly clean and Smokey the Bear provides updates on potential wildfires so people will take precaution. When exiting, follow the road leading behind the building to Route 1 and turn left. Follow our guide below for stop-by-stop suggestions.

Hidden Treasures' board game stash

Hidden Treasures
26 US-1, York, ME 03909

Inside the large bright red building are probably tens of thousands of items for sale. Tenants rent space and set up shop within the shop. As a result, buyers have more variety to choose from. Give yourself ample time to look closely rather than dash in and out and miss something cool. Commonly found: signs, Coca-Cola, Disneyana, furniture, bottles, toys, and petroliana. Standouts: holiday blow molds, travel memorabilia, Americana, and bar accessories.

The Frank Fritz trifecta
Leeward Landing Thrift Store

Leeward Landing Thrift Store
90 US-1, York, ME 03909

Feel extra good about your purchases because you're supporting charities in 3 states. Go retro with a chandelier from decades past. Buy new or gently worn clothing. Surprises and deals are found in every direction. Commonly found: light fixtures, clothing, books for kids, and household items. Standouts: art, regional items, and a few antiques.

Cheers to the artists
Main Pickers feature things you didn't know you wanted but now need

The Maine Pickers
Meadowbrook Plaza, 647 US-1, York, ME 03909

Tucked away in the elbow of a strip mall sits an assortment of objects consequently too large for the store. However intriguing, there's even more inside. Bookcase after bookcase and display after display are filled from top to bottom. Maybe what you seek can be found. If the doors are locked, call one of the phone numbers in the window. Common: ceramics, art, furniture, and knick-knacks. Standouts: pop culture and items not usually sold to the public.

Travel trunks or dressers? Both.
THere's much to reflect on at The York Antiques Gallery

The York Antiques Gallery
746 US-1, York, ME 03909

Explore 3 levels of preserved 18th and 19th-century home decor. Dealers have been in residence for 10 years and longer. Buyers keep coming back because new old merchandise shows up often. Featured image. Walking through the store is like being in a time capsule that just opened. Commonly found: primitives, furniture, and art. Standouts: jewelry, metalwork, textiles, and carvings.

Found on the third floor, one of a pair of carvings.
For the love of books!

York Community Service Thrift Shop
855 US-1, York, ME 03909

Profits from the store go to the local food pantry and assist residents with utility and medical bills. Readers will love the room filled with books of every genre. Skip the full retail prices and grab a bargain. Commonly found: clothing, books, pillows, and glassware. Standouts: antique furniture, mirrors, and dishware.

Little critters found at York Community Service Thrift Shop
Tangibles Antiques offers an array of high-end art

Tangibles Antiques
935 US-1, York, ME 03909

Artists and antique dealers sell their work and effects via the shop's owner and curator. Professional decorators and those who appreciate high-quality craftsmanship come by often. Similarly, passersby visit when exploring the area. Given pricepoints, it's probably not the best place for energetic children. Commonly found: paintings, figurines, busts, signage, and Oriental imports. Standouts: printing blocks, 19th, and 20th-century furnishings.

Industrial-themed antique printing blocks.
Maritime Antiques is the place to make your sea captain happy.

Maritime Antiques and Auctions
935 US-1, York, ME 03909

An incredible acquisition of seafaring antiquities from New England and beyond. From the novice to the expert, there's something for everyone. Be sure to speak with Chuck so you can impress friends with your new maritime knowledge. His shop is ideal for starting or adding to collections. Commonly found: charts, pieces from and for ships, and nautical decor. Standouts: scrimshaw and hand-carved pipes.

Hand-carved pipes
Cranberry Hill Lighting is a prime example of upcycling craftsmanship

Cranberry Hill Lighting and Antiques
1280 US-1, Cape Neddick, ME 03902

The very creative team under the leadership of Dottie and formerly, her late husband Tony, put together distinctive lighting. Whether it's fulfilling custom orders, assisting happy shoppers, or repairing your grandma's chandelier, they are ready and able. The shop is filled with original works with nautical themes, collectible canisters, retired factory parts, and so much more. Commonly found: shades, bulbs, table lamps, and chandeliers. Standouts: everything they design in-house.

Canisters get new life as lamps.

York has even more antique, vintage, and thrift shops than those highlighted. Not all were open at the time of my visit and consequently not included in this article. You are encouraged to explore these unique businesses and talk to the shopkeepers. These men and women are passionate about safeguarding artifacts, supporting artists, and providing nostalgia. Return to Free Time Journal and let us know what you bought.

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