NORWAY – Shallon Tripp, owner of the Pick-A-Lily store on Main Street, was getting ready to close up shop Monday when she got an unexpected visitor.

A group of familiar Republican faces paraded in, led by U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe.

Snowe toured the business districts in Norway, Bethel and Bridgton on Monday, stopping in shops and chatting with business owners. In Norway, the shops she visited included Western Auto, L.F. Pike & Son clothing, Books-N-Things, Pick-A-Lily and Maine Made and More.

Tagging along with Snowe on her tour were several area incumbents and candidates, along with members of the local GOP.

Snowe chairs the small business committee in the U.S. Senate, and while she walked down Main Street here she said Oxford County contains many small businesses.

It was Snowe’s second visit to the county during the campaign cycle, according to her campaign workers. In the past six years, Snowe has been to Oxford County 20 times on “a variety of official duties,” said her Washington, D.C., communications director, Jake Ward, Monday afternoon.

Snowe’s opponent, Jean Hay Bright, has visited Oxford County four times since February 2005, but none of the visits were to an Oxford Hills town, according to Bright’s campaign calendar.

During Snowe’s visit, Western Auto store owner Chris Shorey told Snowe how his store is changing to carry just furniture and household appliances, and doing away with lawnmowers and snowblowers. A new name for the business is being discussed, too, he said, but he does not plan on leaving Main Street.

“You’re a mainstay here,” Snowe told him.

Shorey told Snowe his biggest problem is finding competent employees to work for him.

“These young people come and work for us, and they have no sense of responsibility,” Shorey said.

At Maine Made and More, owner Cathy Murphy shared her business woes with Snowe. The bank is moving into the building, and there is no vacant storefront in Oxford Hills large enough to accommodate the novelty shop, she said.

At Pick-A-Lily, Snowe noted the growth of people in Tripp’s position.

“Women-owned businesses are the fastest growing segment,” she noted.

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