NORWAY — Having made it through the closing of Maine’s economy due to a pandemic and coming out intact on the other side, what is a local shopkeeper to do?

If you’re Adrienne Cote, owner of Norway’s independent bookstore, The Tribune, you grab a partner and jump in the deep end by starting another small business. Cote and Brendan Colter are teaming up to open a specialty home goods store, Brick & Mortar.

Brick & Mortar, a home goods store, is opening Tuesday on Main Street in Norway. S Submitted photo

The shop is at 400 Main St. in space recently vacated by Aquilart Advisory Art Gallery, meaning full occupancy of the iconic Opera House’s storefront on Main Street will continue.

For Colter, opening the store is like a homecoming. He worked for a previous tenant, Rough & Tumble, as a manufacturing production associate. And it was when Rough & Tumble left town and set up operations in another town that the seeds of Colter’s and Cote’s future partnership first sprouted.

Adrienne Cote at her bookstore, The Tribune, on Main Street in Norway bookstore. Nicole Carter/Advertiser Democrat

“Rough & Tumble moved out of Norway at the same time I bought The Tribune,” Cote explained. “Brendan was in between jobs and helped me out where I needed it. He has not only worked in the store but when I was getting started he cleaned, he built stuff for the store, and helped me set it up.”

“I met Adrienne when she did some consulting for Rough & Tumble,” Colter added. “We got to know each other then and found that we work together quite well when she opened The Tribune.

“More recently Adrienne mentioned that a lot of the sales in her store are things that aren’t typical bookstore products, things like pillows and other home goods. There isn’t a specialty store like that around. So we thought it would be nice to start this new shop.”

According to Cote, the store will feature products that are locally made as well as manufactured, including imports.

“We’ll source as much from New England as we can, but finding just the right thing means we’ll sell some imports of goods that will fit,” Cote said. “Because it’s kitchen-garden-home we’re going with a broad product line. One imported line is high quality French ironware bakeware. It costs $40 for a pie plate but it will last your whole life.

Adrienne Cote and Brendan Colter are partnering to open a home goods store, Brick & Mortar, at 400 Main St. in Norway on Nov. 3. Submitted photo

“We will also sell vintage items, and products crafted from repurposed materials,” she said

Maine-based suppliers include Purple Shed Woodworks of Gardiner, The Maine Woods and Primitive Craftsmith of Norway and Floodgate Gardens, Colter’s farm.

“I grow flowers in summer,” Colter said. “I’ve sold fresh cut through The Tribune. We thought fresh flowers would be good at Brick & Mortar, too. I will probably bring in cut stems and let customers create their own bouquets. We’re adding garden supplies to the mix – fun plant pots and tools.

“It’s about selecting the right things aesthetically and in terms of function in one place,” he said.

Cote and Colter see Brick & Mortar as an alternative to traveling to Portland or further for higher-end home goods or settling for big-box store shopping.

“And beyond residents already here in Oxford Hills, we see people coming in and buying real estate in the area,” Cote said. “So we will be that place where people can come in and get that one thing they want for their new kitchen, or get a housewarming gift for a friend who gardens.

“As we’ve started talking to folks about it, everyone has been like, ‘holy cow, we can’t wait’ for that reason [of convenience].”

The store is small, just 18 by 40 feet. Colter said that as they open they will be mindful that they need to limit physical entry to the shop.

Although many businesses across the country are struggling in the wake of COVID-19, he is optimistic about their venture.

“I’m not that concerned with this type of business, Colter said. I was recently a restaurant manager and keeping a restaurant going now is so much trickier. I think that if we can make it happen now, we can do it any time.

“The community has really rallied behind its local businesses. There’s an importance on shopping local,”he said.

As it launches, Bricks & Mortar will be just that – a physical storefront with in-person shopping only.

“Brick and mortar means place, where you go,” Cote said. But the two are not ruling out online sales in the future.

Our channels could evolve over time,” Colter said. “Any good business needs to be flexible to grow. That’s our approach.”

Brick & Mortar will hold a soft opening Tuesday, Nov. 3. Grand opening will be on Nov. 6, in conjunction with Norway’s First Friday Art Walk.

“We’ll have food served by Kyle Boorman, who is opening a new deli in town soon,” Cote said. “We’re inviting people to come to downtown Norway for our grand opening, and just mill around, see the store and enjoy some food and wine.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.