Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, July 12, 2018
King’s island visit spans more than lobsters
Tours Haystack, IEC, Geoff Warner Studio
Sen. Angus King, right, examines a seat of an Owl Stool with furniture maker Geoff Warner at his Stonington studio July 2.
by Anne Berleant
When U.S. Senator Angus King visited the island last week, he focused on lobsters but also toured Haystack, visited the three Island Employee Cooperative stores and Geoff Warner Studio for a broader picture of the island economy and culture.
A supporter of the arts—“I’m from Maine, how can I not be?” he said—King had taught a class on creativity at Haystack 10 years ago and was greeted warmly on his arrival July 2.
Executive Director Paul Sacaridiz outlined the summer programs and year-round arts education opportunities for Maine and island students and teachers. King then met students and teachers from Georgia to Stonington.
“I’m from Maine, so this is pretty exciting,” Dover-Foxcroft middle school art teacher Bobbi Tardif said as King moved from table to table in the Found Objects studio class.
Before visiting Haystack, King stopped at Burnt Cove Market, The Galley and V&S Variety on July 1.
“He was impressed with the stores, and asked a lot of questions,” COO/CFO and board member Les Weed said. King was interested in knowing how the Island Employee Cooperative was structured and asked employees about the difference between being a worker and an owner. The three stores joined as an employee-owned cooperative in 2014.
Lobsters and the local economy were also part of the conversation, Weed said. “[Lobstermen] are our primary customers. Anything that hurts them, will hurt us.”
King also took a photo at V&S Variety of something he said he had never seen before: a greeting card display and lawnmowers stocked in the same aisle.
At Owl Studios, owner and furniture maker Geoff Warner walked King through the process of creating owl stools and other furniture.
“I’ve admired these for years,” King said of the studio’s signature stools.
The discussion turned serious as King spoke of a new 25 percent trade tariff imposed on the U.S. by China, which includes a tariff on lobster.
“It’s very dangerous,” King said, noting that 20 percent of Maine lobster sales is shipped to China.
Warner noted the mechanical parts manufactured in China that he uses in his furniture. “What will happen?” he asked.
One small part that Warner buys for $5.50 would cost about $7, King said, if it fell under the goods the new tariff covers.
“The Chinese are taking advantage, it’s true,” King said, but the question is how best “to handle and deal with it?”
‘Thanks for doing what you do.’
U.S. Senator from Maine