Waterville Opera House Downtown Business of the Year
...downtown business owners and employees, volunteers, and City officials gathered to celebrate downtown's outstanding independent businesses and recognize the many volunteers working to further Waterville's downtown revitalization efforts. Waterville Opera House was named. more...


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Each month, as part of the What's Up in Downtown e-newsletter, we will be featuring one of our downtown businesses in an in-depth profile called, Meet Me Downtown. Written by volunteer Michelle Troutman, these articles are intended to provide our community with a better understanding of our downtown businesses and their owners. We hope you enjoy getting to know them as much as we have.

Michelle provides writing and editing services for business owners to save them time and make them more money. For more information, visit her website http://www.classywriting.com.

Pine Tree Cellular

According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, 83% of American adults own a cell phone. Pine Tree Cellular manager and co-owner Marc Girard admits that with so much market saturation, and fewer customers who've never owned one, sometimes it can be a little difficult "selling phones and keeping your head above water." A U.S. Cellular provider, many of their new sales come from data-based devices such as smartphones and tablet PCs.

"Now, we're seeing such a huge growth in data that it's really mind-boggling," says Girard. "It's not really one segment of the population. We see older folk, younger folk -- everybody's got a smartphone now." Read the whole story...

RE-BOOKS

When Robert Sezak opened RE-BOOKS in 1993, "There was a wealth of bookstores in the area that sold new (first-hand) books. There hadn't been a used bookstore in Waterville for a number of years."

Sezak considers himself to have always been bookish. While growing up, he was a fan of Jack London ( White Fang , Call of the Wild , short stories). Nowadays, he enjoys mysteries and history.

RE-BOOKS is a general used bookstore, so Sezak sells a little bit of everything. "I probably have one of the best sci-fi/fantasy sections in the state. I have a strong mystery selection and a very good poetry section. I am in the process of expanding my non-fiction, especially history. I am also having a sale from now until Christmas with bargains up to 80% off selected books." Read the whole story...

Let's Talk Language School

The idea to open the Let's Talk Language School came to Executive Director Regina Coppens, her husband, Steve Buchsbaum, and their daughters, after they lived in Spain for a year. "We wanted to continue taking Spanish classes, and really, the closest adult Spanish classes were in Rockland at the Penobscot School," says Coppens. In 2004, one year after they came back, Steve and Regina opened the language school.

When Coppens prepared to go to Spain, she listened to a lot of Pimsleur foreign language CDs. "Some people pick up languages quicker than others. I'm not one of those people. I am a testament to the fact that if you are persistent, you can learn a language. But for some people, it just takes more of an effort than others." Read the whole story...

Personali-Tease

"I just didn't dare to do people's hair. I had to go to school, so I could start from the bottom, and work my way up," says Personali-tease hair salon owner Beverly Kelley. "I was too scared. But, of course, I knew what looked good, because my sister was a good hairdresser."

After high school, Beverly had planned to become the manager of a clothing store, following her mother's career path. Eventually, she joined her sister, Penny Sweatt, in running a clothing store and hair salon for 10 yrs. along Main St., where Jorgensen's is now. Penny left to work at J.C. Penney, and Beverly worked for Rhonda Dunbar for three years at the Zodiac hair salon (where Personali-tease is now). Read the whole story...

Shadow Distribution

"I got very excited by film when I was at Colby," says Shadow Distribution President and co-founder Ken Eisen. The New York native graduated from Colby College in 1973 with a Bachelor's degree in English. While there, he nurtured his passion for movies, having been part of a film appreciation society known as Film Direction.

Following graduation, Eisen spent a year and a half in Washington, D.C. working as a theater manager, and watched as many films as he could there, at the American Film Institute, and at other venues. Read the whole story...

Pinnacle IT

Company president Pamela Kick founded Pinnacle IT in 1996, and since then, it has grown beyond its roots in customized software programming. After merging two years ago with Penobscot Technology Solutions and Internet Works, it now does a little bit of everything in the IT (Information Technology) world: the behind-the-scenes work of creating software, Web sites, e-commerce and Web applications, software training, IT staffing for other companies, and computer network maintenance and support. Its software development projects are at the forefront of the latest in technology, and could be coming to a device near you.

Pinnacle recently finished creating its first Apple iPad application for one of their business partners, Pine State Trading, a top marketer and distributor in retail and food service. This "app," short for application, a software program used to perform a certain task, is called The Pinnacle Reader... Read the whole story...

State Farm Insurance

Inside the small, tidy downtown office it's not unusual for customers to be greeted not just by the receptionist, but by State Farm agent John Fortier's dogs, Grady and Tucker. Yellow Labrador Grady was named after Belgrade, where Fortier lives. Golden Retriever Tucker goes into "zooming mode" at least once a day, feeling the urge to run around the office.

Fortier is the fifth of seven children. His father, Malcolm J. Fortier, had been mayor of Waterville in the 1960s, and then a representative for the city in the state legislature for three terms. At age 47, he became a State Farm agent, before retiring 20 years later. Read the whole story...

Day's Jewelers

Like one of the diamond gemstones they sell, Day's Jewelers hasn't lost its luster - the business recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. In 1914, former sea captain Harry Davidson started the business as a small pawn shop/auction center in Portland's Old Port. Davidson's three sons joined him in running it, and by 1988, nearing retirement, his remaining sons Sidney and David had sold it to brothers Jeff and Jim Corey, Jeff's wife, Kathy, and the Coreys' cousin-in-law, Mark Ford. The Corey brothers had grown up in the retail jewelry industry, their father Robert having worked for Day's since he was 10 years old. As an adult, he co-founded Robert's Jewelry with his wife Enid.

Following in family footsteps, Jeff and Kathy opened Jeffrey's Fine Jewelers in Waterville in 1984, before buying the Day's in Waterville, and later, the remaining store in Westbrook. Read the whole story...

The Thai Bistro

"All the girls know how to cook in Thailand," says Thai Bistro owner Thisakorn Allen. Born and raised in Thailand, from a family of nine brothers and sisters, Allen cites her Vietnamese father and her Thai mother as influences on her cooking.

She began her professional cooking career when she came to the U.S. 17 years ago, at Jia's Cafe in Boston, which had received five stars from The Boston Globe . While there, she learned how to make Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese cuisine. Eight years later, she moved to Winslow, where she briefly owned The Asian Cafe before selling it to one of her brothers. She then moved on to Brunswick to open The Asian Grill, which received a five-star review from a Portland-based restaurant critic. She ran it for four years, before deciding to open The Thai Bistro in 2006. Read the whole story...

Joseph's Market

A full service meat store, part neighborhood deli and produce shop and part convenience store, Joseph's Market appeals to shoppers looking for fresh food and for personal service outside of chain stores. "People are able to ask us questions, and we're able to communicate with them to find out what their needs are," says owner Kevin P. Joseph. Customers frequently tell Joseph and his staff that compared to chain stores "no matter how much they try, they can't seem to get the same quality of meat and service that they get from us."

Joseph is Lebanese, one of the descendants of immigrants who settled in Waterville in the late 1800s and early 1900s, many working in the textile and paper mills. "It doesn't make a difference what your last name really is -- we all seem to be family. We are there for each other; we help each other, whatever it takes. We're a close-knit community." Read the whole story...

The Yardgoods Center

"I was brought up in this business -- you sleep, drink, and order it," says Joyce Vlodek Atkins, who started working at the Yardgoods Center at age five. She was paid 25 cents an hour to dust the thread drawers. Marital and business partners, Atkins' parents Bea and Ed Vlodek (pronounced "Vlo-dek") opened the Yardgoods Center on December 8, 1949. It was then across from where The Last Unicorn is now, and later moved to Main Street, where the parking lot is across from the Waterville House of Pizza. By the time that block of buildings was torn down, in 1969, it had moved to the current location. In 1996, before Ed died the next year, the family expanded the space by buying the building next to it, formerly a dry cleaner's, and later a pub. Read the whole story...

Prime Cut

Prime Cut owner and stylist Claire Ocando doesn't have a business degree, but she does have a business pedigree.

Claire's father, Lionel Giguere, owned Giguere's Market on Ticonic Street. Gerard Giguere, an uncle of Claire's, bought a controlling-stake in Ware-Butler in 1952, and it has been in the family ever since. David Mathieu, founder of Mathieu's Auto Body, married one of Claire's aunts, Yvonne, and the business continues on through his grandson, Jim.

Claire's sister and brothers also own businesses. Charlie Giguere owns Champions Fitness Club, and Elm City Photo is owned by Celine Giguere Goodine, and her husband, John. Read the whole story...

Jorgensen's Café

Since its opening 20 years ago, Jorgensen's Café has been a downtown hotspot. Like the coffees and teas they serve, it's brewing with activity, yet relaxed enough for someone to sit down and drink a cup and eat a sandwich while reading the paper or browsing the Internet on a free wireless connection.

Menu boards, handwritten in rainbow colors of chalk, brighten the servery, hanging above cases of gelato, candies, desserts from Acadia Cakes, and Kennebec Chocolates, a recent addition after the closing of the downtown business.

Jon Jorgensen opened the café in August 1990. Current owners Steve and Ginny Bolduc bought it in November 2007 from their nephew, Jeff Gordon. "It seemed like one day we were looking into it, and the next day we were owning it," says Ginny. Read the whole story...

The Villager Family Restaurant

"It's just basic -- we don't do anything fancy, because fancy costs people money," says The Villager Family Restaurant owner/chef Joe Marcoux. His restaurant has a simple layout with rows of tables, chairs, and booths, and a servery off to the side. A glance around the room reveals some surprising touches; colorful paintings line the right wall above the booths, another is a corner where customers can have fruit baskets made to order with some of the many nuts, candies, and chocolates on display in jars.

The paintings were painted by local artist Carol Fowler, who came in and asked Marcoux if she could hang her artwork in the restaurant. Marcoux is open to the idea of providing more space for artists. "I would entertain anybody that wants to put up art." Read the whole story...

Berry's Stationers

A walk into Berry's Stationers could lead you to become buried in the many treasures that lie within. A corner-to-corner collage of art and office supplies greets the eyes: rows of paintbrushes, shelves of paints, pencils, markers, and stationery, and racks of coloring books and greeting cards. Off to the side, the picture framing area features colorful samples of frames arranged in rows along the walls.

Michael Giroux and his sister, Michelle Giroux-Paré bought the long-term business (established circa 1897) in December 2001. Michael had spent five years working for previous owners Lee and Becky Brandwein as a bookkeeper. The brother and sister team saw it had a lot of potential, and with a lifelong shared love of music and the arts, Michael's strong accounting background, and his and Michelle's Masters degrees in Business Administration from Husson College, they felt confident enough that they could run it themselves. Read the whole story...

Millennium Styling Salon: Hair Room

While pregnant with her son, Shelley Lane spent time thinking over what she wanted to do with her life. With nine years of experience as a stylist, she decided she was ready to open her own salon after he was born. She named it Millennium because he was born the year before, in 2000, and "it just had a good little ring to it."

As a child, she thought she would grow up to become a veterinarian. In her teens, she discovered she didn't want to work at a desk, and wasn't sure she could handle dealing with sick animals. She gave hairdressing a try the summer after high school graduation, so if she didn't like it, she could go to college in the fall. Read the whole story...

Spell Bound

Spell Bound is the place to go for board games, fantasy role playing games, collectible card games, and the space to hang out to play them.

"I didn't know how to play anything -- not a game in here -- until I opened the store four years ago," owner Donna Goggin says.

She came up with the name, inspired by the spells in collectible card games, and her son Joel, who has been playing Magic: The Gathering for more than a decade. She spent a year doing research to ensure she was making the right decision. Read the whole story...

The Paragon Shop

The very definition of the word “paragon” is excellence. Inspired by the term, and the old Paragon mail order catalog, in 1981, Nancy St. Amand decided to add it to the name of her new downtown gift shop.

St. Amand had worked in retail throughout high school and college, including the Harris Bakery retail store downtown. “I thought that it would be very fun to own your own place," she says.

After graduation from Thomas College, she processed insurance claims, did accounting on her own, worked for an accounting firm, and later went back to Thomas for merchandising courses. Read the whole story...

Attitudes

The sun shines through the windows while stylists stand at their stations. Some wrap strands in foil and brush dye over them, others are putting the finishing touches on a client's new 'do, brushing hair and blow drying it. Attitudes is a world of colors, creams, sprays, shampoos, and serums, mixed with the flair of a stylist who is also part therapist and confidant.

Owner/stylist Laurie Laliberte bought the business two years ago from Jamie Cram, who opened it in 1990. Cram is studying nursing, but still works there part-time.

"Jamie was looking to sell it, and she had called me. Somebody had given her my name, and so I talked to her a little bit about it, and I really wasn't contemplating it seriously in my head," Laliberte says. "I talked to my husband, and he was great -- so supportive -- and he told me, he just said, 'You're just crazy if you don't do it.'" Read the whole story.

Barrels Community Market

Named after the building which houses it, the Barrell Block, its first owner, Charles Barrell, and in the spirit of plenty, the Barrels Community Market is a project of Waterville Main Street, part of their ongoing efforts to revitalize the downtown.

Barrels manager David Gulak (pictured right) graduated from George Washington University in 2002 with a degree in International Economics. He worked with businesses doing market research, grant writing, and creating business plans before turning to organic farming... read the whole article.

Cancun Mexican Restaurant

"I just work and focus on my family -- make sure they have a tortilla on the table tomorrow," says Hector Fuentes, owner and manager of Cancun, his speech occasionally spiced with American slang.

Growing up in La Piedad, Michoacán in central Mexico, four hours north of Mexico City and an hour and a half south of Guadalajara, he was the second of seven brothers and sisters. "I remember when I was a little kid, and my father, he had to work all day long for us to have a decent meal, a little bit of food at home."... read the whole article.

Earth Bound

You won't find seeds, trowels, Birkenstocks, farm-fresh produce, or handmade soaps at Earth Bound. What you will find are satiny formal gowns, shelves of shoes and jeans, and racks of shawls, shirts, and pants that spring before the eyes in rainbow shades like the season they represent.

Owner Jennifer Bergeron intended the name to convey "that we had things from everywhere," because she liked finding new and unusual clothing lines, and wanted to appeal to travelers.

By age six, she began sketching her own fashion designs. When she was in 8th grade, her mother encouraged her to talk to the buyer at Sterns department store about what her job was like. “What I wanted to do was either be a buyer for a big department store or own my own store... read the whole article.

You Know Whose Pub

Low chandelier light shines on the bar veneer and the wooden tables, slightly scuffed from the plates and glasses of drinkers and diners; padded church pews converted into benches stand against the wall parallel to the bar, below mirrored beer signs. Above everything, stained glass windows mounted in the ceiling lend dashes of color.

Off to the side, the game room offers a dartboard, leather sofas, pool tables, video poker and pinball machines. Wednesday is trivia night, with prizes such as hats and t-shirts.

Norton Webber opened the pub in 1970, and traces of his ownership remain in the form of decor that adds to the vintage atmosphere... read the whole article.

Day's Travel Bureau

"I tell people," says Sandy Day,"They say, 'Well, where do most of your people go?' I say, 'I'm still trying to get them past the liquor store in New Hampshire.' It's amazing how many people have not even been to Boston. If you look around, and talk to people, they've never even been to Boston. Maybe Portland."

Walter Sanderson Day has managed Day's Travel Bureau for 45 years. His son Jeff runs the Augusta office."I micromanage him, and he manages," Day says, laughing....read the entire article.

 

Children's Book Cellar

Like some of the fiction she sells, the story of Ellen Richmond's business ownership features an unexpected plot twist. "I mean, it was just a fluke that I ever ended up in it, so -- I'm not sure that I had any huge compulsion. It was a subject that I liked, and it just kind of was a fit."

After getting a B.A. in English, she wound up managing local Mr. Paperback stores for 20 years. "I had no plan to do retail. I was going to be an English teacher, but when I graduated in the '70s, there were far too many high school English teachers, and I couldn't coach basketball or football, so, it was tough to find a job... read the entire article.

Beverly's Card & Gift

Outside, the large picture window shows a small selection of merchandise, stuffed animals, wallet stuffers, and mini snow globes, hinting at what's in store.

Inside Beverly's Card and Gift neatly arranged items fill the small space: aisles of greeting cards, kiosks of calendars, shelves of candles, picture frames, decorative clocks, jewelry, Webkinz, and knickknacks. Hanging along the walls are party favors and decorations. Together, alongside the displays of wind chimes, Snowbabies, Christmas ornaments, and WillowTree figurines they form eye-catching store décor...read the entire article.

Sign of the Sun

"It's kind of interesting to think that I've sort of been instrumental in spreading 'Sign of the Sun-ness' all over the area," says business owner Frederick Ruder. "There's very few houses around here that don't have something from here in them, somewhere. It's kind of like the rays of the sun dappling the landscape."

From the second floor of a brick building at 22 Silver St., Sign of the Sun shines over the downtown. A visit to the boutique evokes late 1960s San Francisco chic, a unique mix of flower power with a modern twist. Amid high ceilings, brick walls, pipes, and hardwood floors, its inventory and decor form a retro rainbow of color: earrings, necklaces, figurines, rings, and stones, incense, and everything from tapestries to tie-dyed t-shirts, bags to baby doll tops, buttons, cards, candles, and crystals... read the entire article.


Want to learn more about the independent business owners in downtown Waterville?
Check out our Meet Me Downtown series, written by volunteer Michelle Troutman to highlight the people behind the storefronts...more

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
Corner of Elm and Park Streets

Rev. Jeremiah Chaplin, the first president of Colby College, formed this church in 1818. Because it was illegal for a religious group to own property, an organization of pew holders was formed... Learn more.

For every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $45 stays in the local economy, creating jobs and expanding the city's tax base. For every $100 spent at a national chain or franchise store, only $14 remains in the community.