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Deb Neuman Deb Neuman
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Homecoming reunion

October 19, 2011
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'It's all about quality' was the refrain I heard time and time again when I caught up with businesses at the UMaine Homecoming weekend craft show. Every year I attend this event to catch up with businesses that I've had the privilege to know and watch grow over the years. I want to make sure they are still in business, offer them my support, and of course give them my business!

So I scoped out the massive field house to find my friends the candle maker, jam maker, bread maker and the jewelry maker. I was thrilled to see they were all still there and still in business. Better yet, each of them informed me their business had grown from the previous year.

Several themes emerged when we chatted, the most common one being quality. The candle maker told me they are now making a good living with their business and it's due to producing a quality product that brings customers back time and time again (myself included). He also said, 'Too many people who go into business give up to soon.' Persistence and a consistently good product will pay off over time.

The jewelry maker told me that she only uses the best crystals in her one-of-a-kind creations. You could tell by the way the display of necklaces sparkled and reflected the light in the field house. She said she's considered using less expensive crystals but refuses to sacrifice quality for price. That decision is paying off with a growing business, increasing sales and customers who return year after year for more (that would be me too).

The jam and bread maker that I visited are both all about quality which leads to repeat business and new business opportunities. The bread maker recently landed a contract with Shaws supermarkets. They've come a long way from the days when they started with an old family recipe and one loaf out of their kitchen oven! The jam maker sells products all over Maine and beyond. They never skimp on quality and you can tell with one taste. Those are real Maine blueberries and there are a lot of them in each jar. Hard work, persistence and a quality product pays off!

I left the field house with bags of candles, bread, jam and one very sparkly necklace. I look forward to our 'homecoming reunion' next year to see how these businesses are going and growing. Note to self: Bring a larger bag next year!

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