Made in Maine gifts: The usual and unusual

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On a quiet stretch of Route 26, just a hundred yards or so from the town post office, Maine Line Products has been charming visitors since 1979 when Rick Whitney first opened its doors. Along with a few similar outlets in the state, Maine Line Products keeps the spirit of Made in Maine products alive and well with a unique selection of gifts, souvenirs, coffee and snacks. The holiday season is a prime time to visit the store.

“As you might expect, we carry all made-in-Maine items. In fact, many of the items are made right out back here,” said co-owner, (and Rick’s wife) Ellen Whitney.

The selection of items range from the traditional to the more unusual. There’s a variety of wooden gift boxes filled with assortments of Maine jellies, jams, chowders, maple syrup and salt water taffy.

“We make the wooden boxes ourselves,” said Whitney. “We can customize them to what you want.

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“Our top seller is the Woodman’s Weather Stick,” said Whitney, holding out a small tree-like stick in plastic packaging. “My son makes these right here.”

Whitney explained that the weather sticks are the most popular seller because it is one-of-a-kind and unique to Maine. Folks who purchase them say that it is not a novelty gift, but a real weather indicator used by the Abenaki Indians.

The instructions for the sticks say to “hang on an outside wall or door casing exposed to the weather. The stick bends down to foretell foul weather and up for fair weather.”

The sticks are available at the Greenwood store and are sold to other Made in Maine retailers throughout the state.

Other popular gift-giving items are not only Made in Maine, but literally “dropped” in Maine by the official state animal, the moose.

“We have a line of products that are made from moose droppings,” said Whitney, acknowledging that Maine is well known throughout the country for its moose population and that people like the uniqueness of having a bit of “nature” from Maine.

The fast-selling moose items are touted as the ultimate recycled products. There’s the Moose Drop Key Chain made from authentic moose droppings with each piece varnished to make it odor free and hard to the touch.

For the more fashionable minded, there’s the Moose Drop Earrings, a product similar to the keychain, but dangling, instead, and on gold earring posts.

“We also have the Mooseltoe,” said Whitney, holding up an ornament with a red bow, green holly and — you guessed it — moose droppings. “My son gathers the droppings from a local moose and makes the products right here.”

For those seeking more traditional items, the store is well stocked with homemade wood products, the Better Than Average, LLC world-famous Moxie Jelly made from Maine’s homegrown beverage, handmade wind bells, and more kinds of homemade fudge than could ever be imagined. All customers are greeted with an offer to sample a free taste of fudge that is made on the premises.

Marie Stewart, manager at Lisa Marie’s Made in Maine location in Portland’s Old Port believes there is something special about buying a gift made in the Pine Tree State.

“Buying local is becoming more and more important to people and knowing that the money they are spending is going to stay in their own community helps,” said Stewart, whose mother is Lisa Marie, the company founder. “People like knowing that they are supporting their neighbors, their local economy and they like the fact that most times their gift is a one-of-a-kind item that can’t be found elsewhere.”

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