Family patriarch Nordy Rockler opened the doors of his first store in 1954 to supply his fellow craftsmen with knowledge, friendly advice, and a large selection of tools for at-home woodworking projects. Now, the chain of retail outlets brims with more than 20,000 tools and specialized woodworking equipment. Next to a steely rainbow of hinges, casters, and screws, a supply of lumber and exotic hardwoods provides planks for building tree houses or just leaving around as a warning to uncooperative trees. The tenor buzz of power tools operated by newly knowledgeable guests drifts from educational sessions on operating equipment and woodworking.
For more than half a century, Mill Stores has dispensed an enormous array of high quality, ready-to-finish wood furniture and accents to enhance homestead comfort. As a factory-finished solid-oak rocker ($249.99) supports reclining spines, a three-step stool ($19.77), crafted from solid eastern white pine, aids customers in accessing difficult to reach shelves filled with stashes of candy and bacon fat. Stockpile bottles of grapey goodness in a solid wood Tuscany wine box ($39.99) or artfully arrange CDs and DVDs in the sliding separators of a solid pine rack ($23.99). A shingled-roof doghouse ($179.99) shelters canines in safe, cozy pine, and a cast-stone scroll birdbath ($49.88) cleanses neighboring loons and fallen airplane peanuts in its stylish cement surface. Shoppers unable to find their desired décor in stock can request customized designs, which Mill Stores crafts in two weeks or less.
Focal Point Gardens transforms backyards into arboreal havens and lends a bright, blossoming accent to porches with annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees. The nursery’s horticultural experts help visitors select the fullest butterfly bushes to line their gardens’ sunny pathways and the hungriest flytraps to station beside their homes’ unlocked doggy doors. The garden shop’s Felco pruning shears and Dramm watering products keep leafy friends healthy and well-groomed, and its trellises lend support to climbing vines and bungee-jumping grasshoppers. The store’s professional landscape architects draw on more than 20 years of industry experience to consult with homeowners before erecting terraces, planting shrubs, and coordinating flowers.
More than two decades ago, Deb Caron Plourde traded the corporate world for the warm confines of her personal glass-fusing studio. The result was Sundancer Stained Glass, now a bustling workshop where beads, sushi plates, and custom windows emerge from the fire each day. Often led by Plourde, regular classes encourage interested parties to hone techniques from sculpturing to smoldering while learned glass-fusers can pick up supplies by brands such as Bullseye and Kokomo for the eventual satisfaction of throwing a baseball through a window you made yourself.
Edgecomb Potters began in the most inauspicious of places: a modest school house on the side of a road in Maine. Owners Richard and Chris Hilton never dreamed that, 30 years after opening that school house for business, they would be in charge of three galleries across the state.
Today, their family continues the tradition they started, glazing and firing pottery in kilns built decades ago. The works never fail to capture the beauty of the region, drawing inspiration from New England's clouds, forests, and minor-league baseball teams. Delicately crafted bowls and vases can be found in the galleries alongside metal jewelry, wood sculptures, and glassware.