Calais Economic Future Looking Up

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Cabin Fever Embroidery has relocated to the old Jehovah’s Witness Hall on North Street in Calais just up from the Police Station. The new building provides more space and more opportunity.  (Photo by Kaileigh Deacon).

By Kaileigh Deacon

Calais has seen many changes over the last several years and not all of them were changes for the better. The changes happening now could be a breath of fresh air to the local economy. 

Johnson’s True Value, C&E Feeds, and Cabin Fever Embroidery, three locally owned small businesses, have expanded their space to make room for new shoppers. Johnson’s has expanded into the empty space between its original location and the IGA next door. The expansion of the current store allows for them to expand their selections of apparel and guns as well as creating a larger heating department. 

“A lot of people have commented that they want to keep business in Washington County and we’re doing what we can to keep it here,” Jane Hawkes of Johnson’s said. 

This is a trend Tim James, owner of Cabin Fever Embroidery, has noticed as well.  His business has recently relocated from the corner of North and Boardman streets in Milltown to the old Jehovah’s Witness Hall on North Street. The move has allowed for James to make full use of his space and incorporate his other business Bold Coast Graphix. Bold Coast Graphix incorporates banners, car wraps, full color T-shirts and more. Both businesses will be run out of the same building. “Before I had to shut down the embroidery to do a vinyl design and vice versa, the new space allows me to run both simultaneously,” James said. 

But the move to the new location is only the start of the expansion for James. This spring he plans to build a garage that allows him to work on the vehicles on site. The added space has also helped with the increase in business James has seen. “People are starting to look locally first for the products they need before going online,” James said. 

However, his business is also expanding to online taking his products and services nationally. Online shopping has been the reason for the expansion at C & E Feeds also. While the store itself doesn’t sell its products online but it does act as a shipping location for online packages. “We’ve had to add on every year for the last three years,” Ethel Eldridge of C&E said. They have room to accommodate every size package from DVDs all the way up to snowmobiles and four wheelers. The ability to have packages sent there appeals to the Canadian customers who can’t ship to their own addresses over the border. The increase in foot traffic has also helped the feed portion of the business getting more customers in the store and seeing the products. 

While change won’t happen overnight, the fact that small businesses are expanding is a reason to take notice and hold hope that the economy of Calais is on an upswing. When local people start shopping local first and supporting the businesses that support them everyone benefits.