Update – since publishing this post Little Maine Merchantile has closed its doors.
Sarah Castro has always loved architecture. Growing up in North Carolina she always drawn to Maine because the architecture is so approachable. “You don’t have to be a millionaire to own an historical house here.” In fact her mother, Mary Castro, bought an older house in Wiscasset after retiring 4 years ago.
With her love of historical buildings, Sarah picked the right place for her store. Little Maine Mercantile is located at 49 Water Street, just down the road from Red’s Eats. Her store is in Wiscasset’s oldest commercial building, built in 1797. Over the years it’s been a hardware store, general store, and toy store. The building has charming remnants of its days as a hardware store. Behind the front counter are cubbies where bolts were once stored, the size markings can still be seen on the face of the bins. Cut into the floor towards the back of the building are different sized holes used when selling rope. The bulk of the rope was stored underneath the building and was threaded up through the holes where it could be cut to length depending on the buyer’s needs.
Little Maine Mercantile shares the store space with Spruce – a coffee and smoothie bar run by Julie Ambrosino. The two met at their full-time jobs in Portland. Sarah worked in a marketing firm in the same building where Julie worked. They both still hold down their full-time jobs, because of this the store is only open part of the week. Sarah’s mom helps her run the store on the days Sarah works in Portland.
Their best selling items are the Vena’s Infusions, little jars of dried fruits, bitters and sugar that you add alcohol to for a flavorful and interesting drink. The other big sellers are dog treats purchased by people living in the village. She also sells carefully selected goods made exclusively in New England. Sarah believes in supporting local artists and is open to carrying whatever items people let her know they need.
Sarah really enjoys Midcoast Maine. “The area is so beautiful and the people have been exceptional, really nice to us.” Sarah also feels blessed to be doing this together with Julie from Spruce. She hopes the store will become a community gathering place and can envision a day when they might be able to host small performances or screen movies.
Little Maine Mercantile opened at the end of the tourist season last year so they don’t know what to expect for business during the summer but said they did well around Christmas time. For now they’ll remain open Thursday through Saturday from 10am – 5pm.