Friday, June 15, 2018

Business Spotlight: Legal Leaf LLC by Michelle Libby Leaf LLC, at the corner of Route 302 and Whites Bridge Road in Windham, has all the supplies anyone might need to create a garden and grow plants. Owned by Maggie Terry, Joanne Mattiace, Chase Hutchinson, and Brett and Amanda Beauchemin, Legal Leaf sells all growing supplies, including soils, systems and greenhouses.

“Legal Leaf is a store aimed at people who want to grow or be knowledgeable about any type of cannabis or hemp, as well as anything you want to grow,” said Terry.

Terry describes Legal Leaf as a grow store like garden centers in big box stores, but the difference is the equipment and quality of substrates are more specialized to enhance the growing experience and achieve better growth. The staff at the store also have knowledge that other stores don’t have. 

Whether a grower wants to try hydroponic, organic or greenhouse growing, Legal Leaf can help.
They carry different types of lighting from LED to high pressure sodium lighting.

“Our goal here is to be of service. Service to people growing for medical uses,” Terry said.
Terry opened Legal Leaf to help teach her sons the value of owning and operating their own business. Terry also owns Legal Label in the same building. She chose to enter the cannabis growing business because it is an emerging industry and offers a lot of opportunities for those who are seeking new stuff, said Terry.

Terry has been surprised at the customers she has serviced. Most of them are older, she said. “I’ve turned away 200 people looking for medical marijuana for health issues in their forties, fifties and sixties,” she said. Legal Leaf doesn’t sell marijuana or hemp. They strictly sell the products to grow and process the plants.

Even the name, Legal Leaf, was chosen to help reduce the stigma of cannabis, to make it more normalized and more accepted, Terry said.

They service commercial growers in the industry. They find solutions for mold, air issues or light issues. “We want to be a resource and build that trust and relationship,” she said. The company also sells packaging including child proof packaging and labeling.

“Branding, logos and helping businesses with regulatory labels and management of licenses,” Terry said, in discussing how her businesses work together. Now, Legal Label will help the cannabis and hemp industry, too. 

“We have a whole packet of resources,” she said. The laws are constantly changing, so Terry and her team stay on top of the most current laws. They have contacts in all industries. Terry will do special orders and obtain special nutrients if that’s what customers want, she said. “It’s an investment to grow,” she added. “This business is an investment.”

Legal Leaf has plans to expand and bring in new products to help with other aspects of the industry.
“Brett grows, I grow. It’s fun,” Terry said. “It’s like the wild, wild west. God put this plant on the Earth for these reasons, to help medically and emotionally. And, he made it stink so we could find it.”
For those who like to cook with cannabis or hemp, the store carries molds for magic butter or gummies.

For those thinking of getting into growing plants, seek out the professionals who can help get the right products to make a garden grow.

“We’re driven by service and tremendous resources,” Terry said. “It’s a very exciting time because of all the potential that can come from the industry.” The store opened on April 20, 2018.

Legal Leaf is open on Mondays for professional growers or those who want to make a grow plan. The team will meet one-on-one with growers. The store is closed for drop ins. It’s by appointment only. The store is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. They are closed on Sunday.

For more information, call 207-572-1550 or email

Friday, June 8, 2018

Business spotlight: Bean Group by Michelle Libby a Realtor® can make the difference between a good deal and a not so good deal. At Bean Group, formerly The Maine Real Estate Network, the 22 agents are so diverse that matching clients to a Realtor® who specializes in their needs is easy.

“Although residential homes are the majority of sales, each agent has their own expertise for areas they’re familiar with or have experience in, from camps in Northern Maine to homes in Southern Maine,” said Bean Group Windham Office owner Yvonne Myer, who has 20 years of experience in the industry.

In the fall of 2017, The Maine Real Estate Network was acquired by Michael Bean, the owner of Bean Group Real Estate. The new Bean Group became the largest independent company in New England with 800 agents. On May 1, the branding became uniform and all of the 37 offices in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Northern Massachusetts began working together as Bean Group. 

Although agents work independently, they have an expert company backing them with Bean Group and have the opportunity to use any Bean Group office for meetings, including the four corporate owned offices in South Portland, Cumberland, Auburn and Bangor.

Myer loves when clients stop by the office and encourages anyone with real estate needs to stop in or give us a call. There’s always an agent in the office to help or answer your call, she said. The office doesn’t have one specialty, although they do mostly residential and waterfront homes. They also have agents who do development projects and commercial properties. “We pretty much have an agent here who can do anything,” Myer said. The team has a combined 150 plus years of real estate experience.

They also have a diverse population of clients like local homeowners looking to upgrade or downsize. Also among their client list are those looking for multi-unit or investment properties, or clients from away who are looking to relocate or find a summer cottage. From commercial developers to first time homebuyers, Bean Group can make the right connections for their clients.

It’s a seller’s market, and inventory is very low, Myer said. Buyers are getting into multiple offers on properties and sellers are able to reap the benefits of the stiff competition. That being said, “There are always deals to be had in real estate,” Myer said. “Having a great agent to watch out for you is how to win them.”

When looking to purchase or sell property the first thing to do is talk to an experienced agent about what your needs are. “We can help them get everything in order for a smooth transaction,” Myer said. “We can help with the pre-qualification process even if there’s a credit issue.” 

Sellers are encouraged to reach out before putting their home on the market, so the agents can help prepare the house so it’s saleable and attractive to buyers, said Myer.

All of the agents use different lenders in the marketplace to suit the clients individual financial situation.

“We have the expertise, the knowledge and experience to help clients with successful transactions,” she said. The Sebago Lakes Region is a friendly, fun community for all seasons for activities in the summer and in the winter. And, Windham is centrally located to provide residents with almost anything they could need without having to go too far.

When looking for property outside of Maine, Bean Group can help with that as well. “We are a member of Leading Real Estate Companies of The World and can refer our clients anywhere to other expert Realtors®,” Myer said.

Bean group will hold an open house on Tuesday, June 19, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a ribbon cutting at 11:30 a.m. The event is open to the public.

For more information on Bean Group, walk into the office at 887 Roosevelt Trail or call 207-894-5722. Each agent uses his or her own email address.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Business spotlight on Aloha Maine Gifts and Gatherings by Michelle Libby Maine! is an eclectic shop with a mix of products and services from Hawaii, the Pacific and New England regions, but all centered around the theme of LOVE. Owner Renee Conlogue has dreamt about having a shop for thirty years. Between 1988 and 1998, she lived in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she learned about and fell in love with the people who live there.  The Pacific island lifestyle, especially that of the native Hawaiians is rich in spirituality and a peaceful way of being.  “I want to bring that sense of tropical beauty and spirit of the islands here.” Aloha, means much more than just hello and goodbye.  Aloha is love.  “Alo” means present, front, face and the “ha” in Aloha is the breath of life.  It says, you’re here, present and alive now,” she said.  Living Aloha is a way of treating each other with care, love and respect. Its deep meaning starts by teaching ourselves to love our own beings first and afterwards to spread that love to others.  It is sending and receiving positive energy, creating harmony and being kind. 

Renee rented the space at 51A West Gray Road (Route 202) in Gray, back in July. A soft opening took place on December 31, 2017.  “Of course, I was terrified, but I have had a lot of family support to help this dream become a reality. We were open part-time in the evenings. Now, I’m curious to see what will happen with the tourists coming into town,” she said.   

Renee is originally from South Portland and since returning from Honolulu, she has taught at Bonny Eagle Middle School for the past 20 years. Four or five years ago, she learned to play the ukulele and joined the SLUKES (Sebago Lakes Ukulele Society) that play the first Thursday of every month at Pat’s Pizza and they perform at a variety of functions as well.  This year, they will be performing at the 4th Annual Casco Bay Uke Fest held in Portland this July. 

Aloha Maine also offers ukulele private or small group lessons for beginners. Renee helped Librarian and SLUKE member Darcel Devou at the Gray Public Library with a ukulele donation to start a uke lending program.  She hopes to expand her outreach to homeschoolers.  She wants to be a positive force in this area. “There is no need to have musical ability to play the uke and no need to be able to read music”, she said.  All you need is the desire to learn and some perseverance to practice.  In the fall, she wants to start a group for Hawaiian quilting, and classes for sewing and knitting with wool and fabric from the islands. 

The store is a peaceful, kind and loving gift store and gathering place.  Renee has big plans for social and educational gatherings starting in the fall. For now, she is content to sell items like Kona coffee, “Hawaiian Bath and Body” products, Koa wood jewelry, chocolate macadamia nuts and “Amahi” ukuleles.  She now carries the entire line of “Ka Ora” Bracelets designed by Audrey Lovering from Standish.  Each bracelet is handmade using 100-year-old tools and methods.  Each of her designs are beautiful, inspirational, durable and sentimental like the women who inspired them.  In addition, “Love Rocks Me” cards, notepads, coasters and trivets are the designs of Ellen Thayer in South Portland.  She uses heart rocks shaped by the surf along the coast of Maine to create artwork that she photographs.  

In addition, Aloha Maine! is now an official “Life is Good” retailer.  She carries the newest line of women’s apparel and accessories.  The company spreads good vibes, sharing how optimism can empower us even in the hardest of times.  Ten percent of their net profits go toward helping children in need.  “Everything in the store is meant to inspire ourselves and others,” she said. 

Renee has had a difficult start to the business when recently, her oldest son, Royce, committed suicide while away at college. This devastating blow has made focusing on the shop a necessity to continuing with life for her and her son Reid.  “There are days I feel like curling up on the floor and staying there,” Renee said. “These two communities, Gray and New Gloucester, I just can’t say enough wonderful things about them.” She has received support from all of her friends, Royce’s friends, along with people she has never met. “There’s so much love here.  It is what is holding me up” The senior class of GNG High School is gifting a baby grand piano in Royce’s name to the school.  He was passionate of performing for others no matter the size of the stage.

On June 3rd, there will be a benefit concert for the Royce Foreman Memorial Scholarship held at Spring Meadows Golf Club .  Mele’uhane, a Hawaiian Father-Sons Trio from Kona, Hawaii will perform.  From 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. there will be a meet and greet with cocktails and appetizers and from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. will be the concert. The cost is $10 at the door.  This year two GNG Seniors will receive $1,000 scholarships in his memory.  In addition, there will be a raffle for an Amahi Koa Ukulele, where the proceeds will be given to a family in Gray whose mom is battling cancer.  She has school-aged children and every amount of help is appreciated.  

For more information about Aloha Maine or the fundraiser, visit them on Facebook, email or call 207-808-9642. The shop is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Business Spotlight on Animal Emergency and Specialty Care by Michelle Libby play an important role in the lives of their humans. When something happens to them, finding somewhere to take them to be treated is an important decision. Animal Emergency and Specialty Care at 739 Warren Avenue in Portland is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to treat sick or injured dogs and cats with love and compassion.

Under the direction of Dr. Marta Agrodnia, D.V.M., DACVS, Animal Emergency and Specialty Care provides critical care for animals in the greater Portland area and all over New England.

“I feel like it’s a bit of a calling. My husband says, it’s the way I support my addiction to animals. To me they’re all puppies and kittens,” she said.

There are 10 doctors, a board-certified radiologist and many licensed technicians who help with surgeries and procedures day and night. Even at 3 a.m., there are at least three people at the clinic because as Agrodnia put it, “you can’t plan your emergencies.”

There is no general practice at Animal Emergency and Specialty Care. General practitioners at other clinics refer their patients to the practice.

“I’ve been involved in the vet world for over 30 years. I’ve seen the progression of care. I want to be the surgeon who’s there before, during and after to help the owner,” she said.
Dr. Marta Agrodnia, D.V.M., DACVS,
Emergency care can be found all day and night for when a cat eats a lily plant, or a dog tries to make friends with a porcupine.

“We’re there. It’s nice to know you don’t have to travel far,” Agrodnia said. “We can provide the same care as big hospitals, except that people don’t have to go to Boston.” Agrodnia has worked in city hospitals in Chicago, New York, Boston and Michigan.

Veterinary doctors attend the same training courses as human doctors, but then continue on for another four years to become a veterinarian, and four additional years to become specialized in a certain field. Agrodnia specialized in surgery. She is part of the five percent of all vets that specialize in something. She does orthopedic surgeries, soft tissue work and neurologic surgeries. She has repaired ruptured disks that are a frequent occurrence in dogs. The prognosis for dogs is excellent. “Even dogs that are paralyzed have a chance to walk again,” Agrodnia said. She wants to help the clients have a good quality of life with comfort and function.

The animals who come to the hospital are there for a variety of issues including fractures, joint surgery, arthroscopy, hip replacement and crucial ligament disease.

They use the most up to date equipment to provide the comprehensive information to the doctor. With digital radiography, multi-slide CT scans, dogs and cats can have the best care to get back into their lives. The practice uses endoscopy to find and remove foreign objects, and arthroscopy to access items.

“Our emphasis is on excellent surgery, and animal and client care,” said Agrodnia. “They really need to know you care before and after surgery.”

The staff has a high level of expertise between the emergency doctors and specialty staff. “You don’t have to travel to get excellent care,” she said. “Most of our doctors have advanced training and intern experience. We don’t do mediocrity.”

The clinic almost exclusively works with cats and dogs but will sometimes treat “pocket pets” like rabbits, guinea pigs and rats.

Animal Emergency and Specialty Care also works with another business that specializes in internal medicine care for animals with acute conditions such as kidney failure, liver disease or diabetes. 
“We are always striving to get better with what we do from animal care and safety, to treatments and consultations,” Agrodnia said. “I want [owners] to be happy, but I want Fluffy to feel well. I’m very maternal toward them.”

At home, Agrodnia has a brood including two horses, two dogs, two cats, two rats and four non- furred children. “We have our own little ark going on,” she laughed.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, visit, call 207-878-3121 or visit them on Facebook.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Business Spotlight on 3D Landscape Design by Michelle Libby

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With 28 years of experience, Steve Ziegler, owner of 3D Landscape Design, can design a plan to make a home, business or park come alive with plants, trees, shrubs and night lighting perfect for the climate of the project. Ziegler’s talents and skills also include irrigation design planning to meet the specific needs and wishes of his clients. With his motto and mission being, “a friend in your back yard,” Ziegler, enjoys working one-on-one with a client to achieve the perfect look for any project.
“My true love for landscaping is creating a style to fit the neighborhood and location,” Ziegler said.

He has worked at the coast, in the woods, at the lake or on islands.

Ziegler developed an interest in landscape when he delivered newspapers in Presque Isle, at the age of ten.

“I was very organized. I helped my newspaper customers in the summer by helping with mowing, gardening and in the winter, shoveling,” Ziegler said. He admits that he’s done a lot of jobs, some with national figures, and was in the Army in Vietnam, but each time he stepped away, he returned to his passion for landscapes and design.

Ziegler spent a lot of time watching DIY shows on landscape design and eventually got to know Gary Alan of “The Designers Landscape” very well.

“I have vision for how a place should work. I talk to the customers, find out their favorite color, plants, and look for low maintenance and drought tolerant designs,” he said. He had designed for people in Bar Harbor, 18 different states and even did a large project in Jamaica. He was featured in “Flower and Garden Magazine.”

“I can’t look at a home or business without landscaping it,” he said.

He is the only designer in Maine who does this type of landscape design, he said. He can use a CAD system, but “this just takes you there,” he said of his methods.

With technology, Ziegler can show a customer the finished project down to the details of day or night, or different seasons. They will know what the design will look like for their home using photos that Ziegler takes. He can change the color of the house, add shutters or boulders without the expense of doing the project only to discover that it was completely wrong. 

He likes to present plans with year-round color. “Evergreens, shrubs and trees are added so they don’t have to see a barren landscape in winter,” he said. He has no limitations. He adds in stones, fences or water features and can easily remove them if a customer wishes to see something different. He prefers to work with circles and curves and doesn’t use a lot of straight lines in his designs.

The clients receive plans and pictures, and in the portfolios, they also receive information on the various plans that were used in the design, how to care for them and their Latin names.
“They get educated and interested in their design,” Ziegler said.

The 3D Landscape Design plans are great for developing curb appeal when selling a house or when looking for more outside living area. He can add hardscape into designs like patios and pergolas. He works with builders to complete a home’s exterior while the interior is being perfected.

“You don’t think about the landscaping when you build a house. We get it all done before you move in,” he said. The plans give a client an idea of what the landscaping will look like at maturity.

“I can be very specific to the needs of the customer,” he said. He can work with any company a client chooses. In the Windham, Raymond area he has companies he works with on a regular basis. The contractors get the pictures of the project so they know exactly how things should look when they are complete.

This is the perfect time to make a plan with 3D Landscape Design and get plants in the ground.
“I’m a good listener, which creates the best outcome for customers. I can help couples come together to make decisions,” he said.

Design fees start at $300. Ziegler offers free consultations.

For more information, find 3D Landscapes Design on Facebook, call 894-2127 or email

Friday, May 11, 2018

Business Spotlight: Bavarian Chocolate Haus by Michelle Libby almost a year, Bridgtonites and other nearby Maine towns have known a little secret about a place to get authentic German chocolate and the best caramels and toffee in the region. What once was only available in North Conway, New Hampshire, is available at 2 Cottage Street, behind the Firefly Boutique in Bridgton.

Bavarian Chocolate Haus is owned by Scott Ferrari and his spouse, who bought the North Conway based store in October 2008 from the first owner, who had started the candy shop in 1991. The building stands out with its unique style based on houses in the Bavarian region of Germany.
“[The name came from] the combination of the style of the building, the German chocolate recipe and the surrounding area in North Conway,” Ferrari said.

The original owner was a chocolatier and he created a list of recipes and passed them on to Ferrari, who agreed to keep the quality of the candy by using many of the original recipes.
“Your fudge, caramel and toffee can make you or break you,” Ferrari said. “There’s a lot of work to that, using quality control and strict standard practices to make it right.”

Bavarian Chocolate Haus still makes its homemade fudge in copper kettles. The traditional method and the recipe, using heavy cream, sugar and milk, make the fudge unique and creamy. There are at least 10 different flavors.

“We have over 100 different candies,” Ferrari said. Each of them is made in either the North Conway store or the Bridgton shop. However, both stores carry the full compliment of candies. Ferrari, as well as truffle-makers David and Lorraine, make more than 20,000 pounds of candy each year.

They make golden-vanilla caramels in plain chocolate or with Maine sea salt. They make their own almond toffee, called buttercrunch, with dark or milk chocolate. They make turtles with pecans or cashews. There are unique hand-dipped fruits like apricots, pineapples, orange peels and ginger. Try the nut clusters with a choice of almonds, cashews, hazelnuts or pecans. There are also pistachio, apricot and almond barks.

The most popular candies are the almond toffee buttercrunch. The second favorite is the caramels and third, the turtles. There are so many more delights to discover in the store. Try a cinnamon spice patty or a peanut butter cup. There are 15 different flavored truffles; some are spiked with alcohol like Bailey’s Irish Crème, Amaretto, or go without the alcohol and try a Maine sea salt or a Maine Blueberry Habanero truffle.

“I’ve always been a chocaholic. I had thought about [opening a shop], but didn’t expect to do this,” Ferrari said. After 30 years in the medical field, he was ready to make the life change from Massachusetts to the White Mountains of New Hampshire and now into Maine.

“I love food and I love to cook,” he added. “What I love about this business is when I worked in the operating room, I was helping people but reached a point where it was time to help others in a different way. I love making people happy with chocolate. People come in happy and leave even happier. They become a kid in a candy store.”

Ferrari and his team are always creating a new truffle flavor or other confection including our newest fudge flavors chocolate coconut and our Mount Washington Medley Fudge. This is a vanilla based fudge, and mixed into it are maraschino cherries, pecans and rum soaked raisins.  They also created a version of needhams from a family recipe gifted to them from a Maine native.

The secret to their success has been the loyal following who say that they can tell the difference from other chocolate shops and big store candy.

The demand for good chocolate was so loud from Maine, that Ferrari and his spouse decided to move into the lakes region. The Bavarian Chocolate Haus is a regular feature at the Fryeburg Fair and the shop in Bridgton has been busy. “More folks from Maine insisted we open a shop in Maine. They said, ‘We don’t have anything like this in the Sebago Lake part of Maine,’” Ferrari said. They decided on Bridgton because of its revitalization and transformation. They want to be a part of that.
Bavarian Chocolate Haus chocolate can also be found at local businesses, bed and breakfasts and hotels in Maine and New Hampshire. There is also an online store, where products can be shipped all over the country. The website is presently going through a major redesign to make getting chocolate even easier.

“We make it easy for people to get a hold of our candy,” Ferrari said.

For more information or to order candy online, visit, email or call the stores at 603-356-2663 in North Conway or 207-647-2400 in Bridgton. Find them on Facebook.

“We look forward to seeing you in our shops,” Ferrari said.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Business spotlight on Jonathan Priest, MetLife by Michelle Libby
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Insurance is one of those things that no one wants to pay for but having it when it’s needed is so important. Jonathan Priest works with MetLife to custom build insurance packages for singles and families regardless of where they are in the game of life. 
“Anytime you’re making a change is a good time to review insurance,” Priest said. Getting a new car, getting married, divorced, having a baby are all great reasons to reassess or learn about insurance.
Priest has been working in the banking and insurance industry since he graduated from college with a degree in education. The education degree has served him well in his career because he is able to discuss the client’s needs in an understandable way. 

“Every MetLife policy is comprehensive,” Priest said. “Life insurance is never cheaper than right now. Ninety nine times out of 100, the rate is less expensive than you think.” 

MetLife offers many things that other companies don’t, Priest said. Like when a client has an accident with a rental car, the rental agency will sometimes charge the driver for loss of use time. MetLife covers that charge, where many other insurance companies will not. If an all-wheel drive car needs new tires and rims, MetLife will replace all four tires, not just the two needing repairs. 

When it comes to home insurance, MetLife doesn’t have capped insurance, Priest said. If a house is insured for $500,000, but it will cost $750,000 to rebuild it, they will provide the bigger amount. “No one else does that,” he said. 

When he meets with clients, he asks a lot of questions to find out what they need, be it homeowners, auto, disability, life, event or pet insurance. Priest can broker out to many agencies to find the best policies for his clients’ needs. 

Insurance can be reasonably priced. Pet insurance, for example, can run an owner about $15 to $20 per month. When a pet needs an expensive surgery, the insurance can be a great thing to fall back on.
Priest has been able to find savings for many clients. One man, with good credit and insurance history, was able to cut his yearly payment in half, Priest said. 

Priest has life insurance policies that don’t look at marijuana use. “We are very competitive,” he said.
He fits the product to the client. “Not everyone needs an umbrella policy,” he said. “I feel it is my job to educate.” The face to face contact with Priest allows him to make a personal connection with his clients. When something happens, the clients call him. 

“If you have a claim, do you want someone who doesn’t care or that you’ve never met?” he asked. “I want to make sure you’re getting the coverage you need.” The claim center for MetLife is in Rhode Island and Priest makes sure to follow up if there is a claim made. “Many things don’t count against you,” he said. Other companies will assess a surcharge for five years after a claim. 

Priest started with MetLife in March and hasn’t looked back. With 13 years of experience in the insurance game, he knows a good company when he sees it. 

Priest likes to work with first time home buyers because they are like a blank slate. They need coverage and need to be educated about which coverage is right for them. He also likes to work with people who know the value of insurance. He also works with business insurance, which has different requirements. 

“I was one who wasn’t scared of getting into the commercial side of things,” he said.
Priest’s office is at 57 Tandberg Trail, just above Spectrum. He offers free consultations, reviews and quotes. “If I can’t help you, I’ll tell you.”  

He enjoys face to face meetings, so getting in touch with him is best done by phone or email. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call directly at 671-9467, call the office at 893-8184 or email