NORWAY — This Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of when The Raven Collections shop took flight on Main Street in Norway.

Gray and her husband, Ernie, first came to Oxford Hills ten years ago. With the help of a close friend’s knowledge in retail and specialization in minerals and fossils, Gray opened her shop. Her husband has been supportive through the process, with helping with maintenance, making pick-ups from mineral vendors, and being on the look-out for new things for the shop. Gray’s sons have on occasion run the shop in her absence.

‘It’s been very successful,’ said The Raven owner Darlene Dadian-Gray. ‘We owe a lot to the community support.’

Since Gray’s shop opened last March, she has made great feats thanks to help from local businesses and community support along Norway Downtown. The shop has given to Norway Downtown in return. Not only is The Raven a business, it’s also a place for people to learn about the history of the minerals that are sold there. Gray said that her shop brings knowledge and education, as well as unique gift ideas, to Main Street.

‘We have definitely surpassed our goals and expectations for our first year,’ said Gray. ‘A lot of it is due to community support.’

Gray’s main goal was to go day-to-day without any set goals, and ‘play it by ear.’ She knew that the first year of business would be a learning curve. With suggestions from customers and other business owners, new features were implemented into the shop, including the new section of mineral books that are now available for purchasing in the store. Other feedback included different window display ideas, which Gray took into consideration.

‘Some a little bit more elaborate than others,’ said Gray. ‘But we’re just having fun.’

Other requests that Gray took from customers regarded gems and rocks that weren’t at first available in the store. She would then take their request, and use local contacts in the area to find the desired items.

With the help of people passing on the word about the shop, and sharing the shop’s page on Facebook, more and more people learned about The Raven.

Location is key for Gray’s shop. Located in the heart of the renovated Opera House on Main Street and directly across from the Town Square, The Raven garners attention from shoppers as well as tourists. Local traffic from businesses such as Longley’s, Cafe Nomad, and Books N Things also along Main Street has brought plenty of traffic.

Apart from supporting her own business, Gray features local artists’ work in her shops.

‘When [people] shop here they’re not only supporting a local business, they’re supporting local artists as well,’ said Gray.

On Saturday, an artist will be at The Raven teaching one-on-one wire wrapping workshops as well as wire-wrapping stones that people bring in.

Over the next year, Gray has some new plans in mind to improve her business. Workshops with artists, including wire-wrapping and making dream catchers, and holding birthday parties for children are in the future.

Overall, Gray said that this past year has been very successful, thanking the Norway Opera House Board of Directors, local business owners, and community members for their support.

‘Without all of that, I don’t think we would have been as successful as we have,’ she said.

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