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Originally published in Castine Patriot, May 22, 2014
Merchants association renews and revitalizes itself and, it hopes, Castine

Main Street, Castine, is open for business

Main Street, in Castine, Maine has woken up after the long winter of 2013-14, and the Castine Merchants Association is echoing that renewal with new members, bylaws and plans.

Photo by Anne Berleant Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Anne Berleant

The Castine Merchants Association, which had fallen into near-complete inaction in 2011, has undergone a recent renewal, complete with proposed bylaws and a membership of 55 businesses, organizations and individuals.

One goal, said Secretary Sharon Biggie, who owns the Compass Rose Bookstore, is to help answer the question, “What does Castine need to be a year-round destination again?”

In the past, the association focused on summer visitors and tourists, Biggie said, but now it wants to “have people working together” to revitalize Castine year-round.

Historically, the association has been behind the walking map of Castine, designed for visitors to the town, that highlights places of interest, both historical and otherwise. It also held Castine Days from 2008-2010, a three-day fling that brought visitors to town for sidewalk shopping and events such as tours of the T/S State of Maine, parades and a dog show on the town common.

An updated walking map was issued last year, sporting the new town slogan “Under the Elms & By the Sea.”

“I usually go through two boxes” each summer, Biggie said.

New plans include blowing up the map for placement on the rebuilt public restrooms at the town dock and, “our first big project,” said Treasurer Tiffany Martin, assembling gift bags for local businesses, Maine Maritime Academy conference attendees, and for handing out at local events. MMA is funding half of the cost of the bags, which will feature its logo on one side and the Town of Castine’s on the other. The reusable tote will include business cards, coupons and fliers for local businesses and organizations.

In addition, Martin has created an online town calendar, to replace the one managed for years by Lyn Mayewski, now living in Brooklin. It is accessible through the town website, with a link at the bottom of the Events page (

The CMA president is Sara Leighton, owner of SaraSaras, and its vice president is Nancy Watson, co-owner of The Manor Inn. An annual meeting, open to the public, will be held in the fall, and a spring meeting, for organizing the upcoming season, will also be held and open to the public.