No state celebrates the handmade and independently owned like Maine. And now that the holiday season is upon us, Portland celebrates it with local craft fairs, extended shopping hours and the bedecked storefronts that make window-shopping a magical holiday experience.
In Portland you'll find something for everyone on your list, from Mom and Dad to your best friend or favorite barista. There's a wonderful selection of local boutiques that you just won't find anywhere else. Here are some of my favorite go-to spots.
LeRoux Kitchen (161 Commercial Street)
Stepping into LeRoux is like stepping into a dream kitchen, one that you'd imagine would have been in Julia Child's home or perhaps the summer cottage of Martha Stewart. Every corner is filled with kitchen gadgets, beautiful dishes, cutting boards of every shape and size. Leroux also makes their own vinegars which line the wall in silver jugs that you're welcome to taste before selecting your favorite. On the second floor is everything you'd ever need to outfit a kitchen from the ground up: casserole dishes, blenders, pots, pans and the like. They also have an impressive, well-curated selection of wines and beer. It's a great place to stop into before a holiday party too if you need the perfect hostess gift. And don't leave without trying their truffles – they are not to be missed.
Portland Trading Company (157 Middle Street)
Relatively new to the independently owned shops in town, owner Kazeem Lawal has an impressive eye and a welcoming energy the moment you step into his store. Not only does Portland Trading produce their own brand of clothing, but they carry clothing, skincare and jewelry lines you'd be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Some of my favorites include Bait Bag Clutches that are made in Maine and Swedish Hasbeens for gifts that certainly tops every local lady's list. If you're looking for a magazine that you won't find on normal newsstands, the collection here will certainly point you to a new favorite read.
Folly 101 (101 Exchange Street)
Not everyone has the wallet for a pricey present, but at Folly 101, you don't need to spend a fortune to find a little bit of luxury. This housewares store serves as a source of decorating inspiration as you walk through, with coordinating home dÃ©cor that mixes and matches with ease. You can choose small, stocking stuffers here like European soaps, earrings or some polka-dotted serving spoons or you can find that perfect plaid blanket or a serving tray that's destined to serve someone breakfast in bed. There's also a small selection of beautiful items for kids and babies if a new Mom or Dad are on your list.
Portland Flea-for-All (125 Kennebec Street)
I've never set foot at the flea without buying something. This three-story building is charming in its own right, but it isn't your average flea. Here you won't find folding table after folding table of piled up stuff. Instead, nearly every booth is a treasure hunt with independently owned vintage sellers or consignors selling only their best wares. On the ground floor is where you'll find lots of locally made items, like custom perfumes or hand-sewn children's clothes or handmade jewelry. Since the flea is only open on weekends, it's something you'll want to take advantage of when Saturday rolls around. And since sellers come and go depending on the season, almost every weekend will feel new. The second and third floor is mostly furnishings and larger items. Many come here every weekend to find unique, vintage or handmade pieces to fill their homes with. If you want to give a gift that someone will surely treasure for generations, flee to the flea.
If you happen to be in Portland for the day, be sure to walk down Exchange Street or along Fore Street for a variety of boutiques that you can pop in and out of for gift giving. If you have any questions while you're in town, send me a tweet @ForeFrontFash and I'll try my hardest to point you in the right direction.
Happy holiday shopping!