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Taking care of business 2016

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The blooming businesses of the Bangor area

BANGOR/BREWER Bangor is often described as a city in the midst of rebirth. And though it seems a new Renaissance has hit the bricked sidewalks, it's not been a process that happened over night. It has taken the hard work of many dedicated people to keep the momentum going but it's going strong. This is a round-up of some of the new and changing faces in Bangor (and their expansions into the Twin City).

At first Blush'

Blush Bridal and Formal Wear is located at 15 State Street in Bangor.

Blush Bridal and Blush Formal Wear is an experience for anyone looking to do more than just go dress shopping.

'You can buy a dress everywhere, but you can't get an experience everywhere,' said Karami Mantz, general manager at Blush Bridal. 'Before the bride even enters the store, we try to do our homework. When she makes an appointment, she gets a link to complete a short survey her wedding colors, how many bridesmaids she has, details about a dress she's looking for. So we have all that before she arrives.'

Mantz said that the staff will then brainstorm for dress styles the bride might be looking for.

'When she arrives for her appointment, we take her and her group to a bridal suite and go over introductions and get to know everybody,' said Mantz. The bridal suites are spacious area, with room for friends and family to sit comfortably while the bride-to-be showcases the gowns she's trying on.

As they go through the process, the attendants are asking the future bride what she likes and doesn't care for and making new selections based on that. If she finds a dress she's happy with, it is cause for celebration, and they preserve the memory by having her hold a sign that read, 'I said yes!' with a #blushbride hashtag.

'We make it a little bit special and different,' said Matz.

Downstairs you can find the Blush Formal Wear for prom and cocktail dresses, as well as pageant gowns for girls. The vibe downstairs is intentionally different where it's satin and classical upstairs, downstairs the music is faster and louder to match the bold colors of the dresses and accessories.

But both boutiques have a classy feel and an attention to detail that will make customers feel well attended to and special no matter the occasion.

Feminine touch with Ivy & Lace

Ivy & Lace is located at 173 Park Street, Suite 3 in Bangor.

Sometimes when you're shopping, you are looking for items that have a certain feminine touch or you're looking to bring out the softer side of your larger pieces of furniture. At Ivy & Lace on Park Street, across from One Lupine, you can cultivate that warmth, softness and prettiness that is often associated with the fairer sex.

'My store has this somewhat therapeutic vibe about it. It's laid out in a way that's nice to look at. It's hard to describe what you feel, but everything is very feminine white lights, a few Scentsys burning Everything is quiet whites and pinks and neutrals with a lot of botanical things,' said Victoria Roy, co-owner of Ivy & Lace. 'It's very soothing and I think it helps you imagine where you can put things in your home and how it would look amongst other things.'

The inventory is a mix of new and vintage items but Roy notes they are not an antique store. Everything in Ivy & Lace is useable from the outset. If something was broken, they fix it, clean it and make it useable and presentable.

And though they lean towards the feminine side of things is deliberate, Roy thinks that there is a definite appeal to both genders.

'It brings out the softness of your home and your person. It's great to behold when things are put just-so.' It's like you can take a deep breath and just soak it in,' she said. Roy noted that much of the store has a botanical theme, which was also intentional.

'We wanted everything to feel like a garden, yet in your home,' she said.

They do offer lines of clothing, and though some may have a classic or vintage feel to them all of the clothes are brand new. Though they have been chosen with an eye towards classic designs, they each have something that makes them unique and different from what you might find in a department store.

Set sail on a Sea of Cotton

Sea of Cotton is located at 15 State Street in Bangor.

Originally the store was located in Bar Harbor. Joyce Mallory, who is from Bangor, decided to bring the store to Downtown Bangor.

'It's almost the end of the first year and we have loved it,' she said. 'It's been a roller coaster making sure people find you and that all those pieces take time to come together. The winter was a challenge, but we had a great holiday season.'

Sea of Cotton offers a unique shopping experience that combines quality and comfort, along with the peace of mind of knowing that when you buy something there it is sourced fairly and as much as possible from the United States and if it is from abroad they ensure that fair trade practices are followed.

'What we find is that people are more and more concerned. It's certified in your country as much as we can do it, we support workers here,' she said.

But in addition to making sure the items are properly sourced and of good quality, Mallory also says that the staff at Sea of Cotton help shoppers find the clothes that work best for them.

'We want you to feel that we are here to help you and support you and not get in your way. When you're looking good, you're feeling good and it helps you get out in the world in the way you want to be,' she said. 'That's not easy for some women. We love to help and want you to look good and feel good. Whether you make a purchase or not, we want to make you smile.'

Behind the faade

Though they are relatively new to the Downtown area, Abe and Heather Furth are no strangers to the work involved in creating vibrant spaces for their projects, having already done so in Orono when they renovated the former Masonic Lodge to become home for the comfortable and scrumptious Verve.

Taking the lessons learned, they applied them to spaces in Bangor, bringing their luscious burritos to Bangor and renovating the entire building, not just the storefront. The Furths don't just bring a storefront they bring the entire building back to life.

'We're going to keep on finding diamond-in-the-rough buildings and making them relevant again and 100-percent used,' said Heather Furth. 'Some are 75-percent vacant or more than that.'

The couple noted that they are not the first people renovating buildings in Bangor, and that if it hadn't been for the positive connections they had made with other building owners in the City, some of the opportunities they have been afforded simply wouldn't have come to light.

They are currently refurbishing a building on State Street, which will house a storefront on the ground floor and completely refurbished apartments in the other three stories. Though you can't see it from outside, inside the former cigar factory is taking on new life. The Furths are using the old humidors and repurposing them into kitchen islands. They are trying to keep as much of the old materials as possible and letting the personality of the building shine through a dynamic fusion of old and new.

'Creating living spaces out of empty spaces is a blast,' said Abe.

'A big part of the downtown's vitality is having people living downtown,' added Heather.

Heather said that she and Abe have a 'passion for rehabilitating' the old buildings. And in addition to enjoying the projects, they have made themselves experts on what needs to be done to get the buildings up to code so there are no surprises when it comes to finally open the doors.

'We enjoy finding out what the rules are and following them. We're not afraid of learning how to work with code enforcement. We get that taken care of before wethinkabout building. That's something you learn quickly when building,' said Abe Furth. 'The City of Bangor is phenomenal about working with people to do this kind of thing.'

'They want to see buildings rehabbed,' added Heather.

Tanya Emery, the director of Economic Development for the City of Bangor, agrees.

'The City views all of our work with businesses as a long-term relationship. If someone proposes a project, our staff goal is to say, How can we help you make that happen?' If something doesn't appear to work at first, because of code or zoning or something else, we look to see where or how itcanwork,' she said in an email interview. 'If that project won't work on Broadway, might it work on Union Street? We also work tirelessly to connect the dots between people and resources. If we can't answer the question you have, we probably know who can. We put together people, projects, programs and policy to grow Bangor.'

And though the Furths are happy to be a part of the continued revitalization of the Downtown, they are the first to point out those who have come before.

'A lot of people came before us and invested much more heavily (including Paul Cook, Telfred Allen and Roy Hubbard) Paul Cook was buying buildings when there weren't a lot of people buying buildings in Bangor,' said Abe Furth. 'We were right on the edge of that kind of ahead of the curve. But so many people invested.'

Updates, heads up and other additions

There will be a new locally owned and operated Edible Arrangements opening soon at 570 Stillwater Avenue in Bangor. Edible Arrangements offers a new twist on sending a bouquet rather than flowers, it's an aesthetically pleasing arrangement of delicious fruit sometimes dipped in chocolate.

The restaurant formerly known as The Juice Cellar is now known as Fork and Spoon to better reflect their meal offerings, which still mainly consist of raw and vegan vegetarian-friendly cuisine that is delicious and filling. Also rumored to have some of the finest coffee in Bangor.

Explore Bangor on Hammond Street will offer folks a way to explore the City in a new way either on a bike or via Kayak through guided tours. You can rent either item at the store front and then just go and have fun. There will also be a retail space where people who enjoy outdoor exploration can gear up. According to the Bangor Daily News, the business is still in the planning phase but hopes to open this year.

The Whoopie Pie Caf, known for its wide variety of decadent and enormous Whoopie Pies, opened a new location on 347 Wilson St. in Brewer to complement its sister store at 621 Hammond Street in Bangor. Now folks on both sides of the Penobscot can enjoy 35 different flavors of frosted awesome. If you're not in the mood for dessert, you can choose from a varied lunch menu.

Harvest Moon, which expanded from Mill Street Orono to open an artisan sandwich shop on Columbia Street in Bangor, has opened yet another branch, this one in the Twin City Plaza in Brewer. With sandwiches and wraps all named after iconic music legends, such as Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Charles, lunch feels jazzed up.

Massimo's Cucina Italiana is closing its doors, but they will reopen to become a Brahma Grill, according to the Bangor Daily News. No word yet on what they will offer the residents of Bangor.

West Market Square Artesian Coffee Shop is due to open this month and will offer a wide variety of gourmet coffees to the residents of Bangor.

Last modified on Wednesday, 09 March 2016 09:19

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