The Weary Club in Norway was mentioned in an article in Down East magazine in July about the best small-town downtowns in Maine. Nicole Carter/Advertiser Democrat

NORWAY — In its July issue, Down East magazine announced what Norway shop owners and customers already knew: it is one of Maine’s “best small-town downtowns.”

It was selected along with Gardiner, Houlton, Bath, Thomaston and Berwick.

The article included a tip of the hat to the Weary Club, Norway’s unique community club founded in 1923 that based membership on the applicant’s ability to whittle a shaving light enough to float. It also included Ordway Grove on Pleasant Street, a 10-acre forest preserve where some of Maine’s oldest known trees continue to grow.

“The photographer spent pretty much the entire afternoon with us photographing all different aspects of the brewery,” Brenda Melhus, co-owner of Norway Brewing Co., said. “She joined us for a meal after she photographed it. She had her baby in a carrier the entire time who was happy to hang out with us, too.”

Other eateries featured were Cafe Nomad and Dolce Amici.

Photographer Cait Bourgault made a point to highlight the Norway Opera House, the iconic brick building featuring a tower clock. Retailers began moving into renovated storefronts on Main Street starting in 2013.

Fiber & Vine, the yarn and wine shop on the ground floor of the Opera House, was a prominent feature in the article. Co-owner Kimberly Hamlin said she did not get an advance notice about it but her store has benefited from the exposure of Bourgault’s visit.

“I’ve definitely seen a lot of visitors from the article,” she said. “I’m lucky in my shop I think, because I get to spend a bit more time chatting with folks when they come in … more than a customer at a cafe counter might. Many people have made a point to mention the article as a reason for visiting the town.”

Brenda Melhus owns Norway Brewing Co. Submitted photo

Adrienne Cote, co-owner of Brick & Mortar in the Opera House and owner of The Tribune book store down the street, got a double shot of publicity.

“The photographer has been a regular customer (at The Tribune),” Cote said. “It was terrific for our small town to be highlighted in Down East. We all know how great our town is and now other people who love Maine also know.”

Cote said a few people visiting her stores have mentioned the article, although she could not verify that it drew in new customers.

Brick & Mortar, a specialty home goods store, is still in its first year of operation.

Scott Berk, owner of Cafe Nomad, Fiber & Vine partner, board member of the Norway Opera House Corp. and president of Norway Downtown, is pleased to see that years of investing in Norway’s Main Street has paid off.

“It did make me very happy to see it, and we deserve it,” Berk said in an email. “Many people have worked so hard for nearly 20 years to successfully revitalize our beautiful historic downtown. It is always nice when that success is recognized statewide.”


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