"Are you new here?"
Despite our 18+ years in business, this question isn't unusual for us to hear.
It's an interesting question.
Sometimes it's asked by people visiting Kennebunkport for the very first time;
Why would they assume we are new if they've never been here before? Maybe we give off that "new store" energy.
Ooh, that’s nice. I humbly accept this explanation.
Other times, the question: "Are you new here?" is asked by someone that either lives in the area or visits every summer. This will immediately make me wonder if we are doing something wrong. How are they just discovering us now?
Should we be advertising more? Is it my fault as owner and manager that the name, Minka,is not universally recognized as a premier shopping destination in southern Maine? Should I leave my house once in a while and maybe meet some people? Should I be more involved in the community? I'm sure the answer is 'Yes' to all of these questions (And it’s also my advice to young business owners, do all of those things.) but I brush all that to the side and my next thought is:
To be discovered is a beautiful thing.
Our businesses was born in a garage.
After a long day of working our full-time jobs, we would open the door to our garage-gallery and wait for people to stroll by and find us. Located down the side-street of a sleepy fishing village, our shop was an unexpected attraction for the handful of seasonal residents and guests that were staying in the area. We filled the space with our own creations; Paintings, soaps, jewelry, and hand-printed cards. People were pretty excited to discover our little undertaking, and that support gave us the motivation we needed to move forward. After many years of learning, growing and developing in that garage, our little baby, Minka, was a baby no more.
One day while walking around Kennebunkport, we saw a 'For Rent' sign.
Located up on a hill and tucked back in a corner, the building had large shrubs in the front with a narrow ramp leading up to the front door. Not the ideal spot for a storefront. It was formerly the chamber of commerce, also known to many as the only public restrooms in town. It was an off-the-path location with the one benefit of having Ben & Jerry's as a neighbor. It wasn't a hard decision to make the move but I'm sure a healthy amount of skepticism came from me.(how much for rent?). I'm also sure that Michelle managed to push us forward with the usual amount of confidence she has when big decisions are in front of us.
We made the move and after making the necessary renovations to both inside and out, Minka, was a entering it's second stage of life; A real-deal storefront, ready for the world.
Despite the lack of foot traffic, we developed a strong following up on the hill.
Minka was often discovered by the curious adventurers; tourists with keen exploring eyes would spot us from the street below. The same kind of tourist that enjoyed leisurely wandering down side-streets and discovering storefronts operating covertly. The kind of place where you knock twice and ring a bell. The kind of place that sends out a little white mouse with a wire basket on its back to greet you. You throw your money into the basket and the mouse scurries back into the store. You wait five minutes then the mouse scurries back out pulling a package. You just bought a mysterious package from a mouse. Whatever’s inside is going to be fantastic. It's exactly the kind of thing that Michelle and I like to do when we are on vacation. And even though we appreciated being that hidden gem, we were feeling the constraints of this location. Just when we were getting antsy, a prime spot opened up in the middle of Dock Square.
A more traditional space in the center of town, this location had neighbors and foot traffic and it was everything you think of when you think of having a storefront. No longer a secret spot down a side-street. No longer hidden away on a hill. We couldn’t ask for a better location. It’s right on the corner with a big beautiful tree that glows red in the fall. We’re across the street from Daytrip Society and Dock Square Coffee House. We are close to Benoits, Fia Fia, and Roccoco. And we couldn’t ask for nicer neighbors, Whimsy, Ireland on the Square, Scalawags, and the charming Kennebunkport Inn. We love being in the middle of this little town.
I can’t even believe that we are now heading into our 7th season at 3 Dock Square in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Just the other day someone asked:
“Are you new here?”
It’s an interesting question.
Each time someone enters our store,
stops, look around, and takes a deep breath..
then smiles as if they have arrived at their destination;
To be discovered is a beautiful thing.
This post is brought to you by East Coasting