Discovering Treasures at Artemis’s Attic

By Lura Jackson

 

Do you believe that innovation is born from our past and is key to our future? Danielle and Shari Doten, owners of Artemis’s Attic in downtown Calais, certainly do. The daughter and mother-in-law duo (respectively) helm the unusual shop, which acts as a focal point for crafters from around the community, as well as a haven for the funky and antique (and those that consider themselves as such).

The idea for the consignment shop was a shared effort between Danielle and Shari, with Danielle wanting to open a used clothing shop and Shari wanting to have a permanent display area for her own skillfully-made goods and those of other local crafters. Danielle used her internet savvy to learn the ins and outs of business management, and last year, Artemis’s Attic opened. One by one the vendors came in, gradually filling in the framework of the flavorful store, complementing the large selection of bargain-priced, donated or salvaged “wonderful junk” that the owners maintain.

At present, a total of 23 separate vendors have their own niche, each offering a mixture of handmade, repurposed or collected items. Some are crafters that enjoy the year-round exposure (rather than having to rely on seasonal craft fairs), presenting stunning examples of wood turning, weaving, doll-making, and more. Shari’s own Memory Bears (made from a blanket or clothing item of a deceased loved one) are a stand out in the bunch. Others specialize in collectibles or found curios, bringing a healthy dose of nostalgia into the mix. The selection is constantly changing as new vendors come in and others incorporate new items on a weekly basis.

Sometimes, donated or salvaged items come in that aren’t initially sellable—Shari and Danielle are beginning to “upcycle” these items, harvesting their usable pieces and transforming them into one-of-a-kind treasures. Nothing is thrown away. Soon, the pair will be offering a line of “penny pinching products,” including homemade soaps and cleaners in reusable containers.

Danielle says that the support of local businesses has been an important part of their success thus far, and she continues to pay it forward to the community however she can. Frequent sales and specials emphasize this point: from now until March, bringing in a donation of food (to be given to the local pantry) gives you a 15% discount on nearly all non-vendor items (books, clothing, shoes, etc).

With each vendor that comes in, the store more and more resembles a museum of local culture, from rusted farm tools and faded comics to quirky clothing (old and new). It’s worth coming just to browse the fantastically artistic photos, pottery and dioramas… and of course, the cans of “Road Kill Stew”.

Artemis’s Attic can be reached at 454-7000 or at their frequently updated Facebook page.