Sunday, May 25, 2014

Business Spotlight - The Ice Cream Dugout - By Michelle Libby

At The Ice Cream Dugout there’s no such thing as a swing and a miss. It’s always a homerun! 
Nothing says summer better than ice cream and baseball, and when they are mixed it must be The Ice Cream Dugout. 

With a change in ownership, patrons will notice subtle changes and some re-branding, but according to owners Ryan Roy and Steph Morrotta, “You can’t fix what’s not broken.” They bought the shop on Route 302 minutes from Seacoast Fun Park last September. 
“The shop has an awesome following and loyal customers,” Roy said. The Dugout serves many flavors of Shain’s of Maine hard serve ice cream, from Almond Joy to smurf from Irish crème cookie to vanilla, there’s something for everyone. 

The shop also dishes up soft serve ice cream. Roy added another machine to increase the number of flavors soft serve. Regularly they have peanut butter, coffee, black raspberry, vanilla and chocolate and seasonally they have flavors of the week, like coconut, pumpkin or blueberry. 

Roy and Morrotta, who are planning a wedding soon, are not new to the ice cream business. Roy’s first job was scooping ice cream at Northland Dairy Treat in Turner. He later purchased that shop and sold it last week after eight years. 

“Our dream is to be in the Windham area. It’s a beautiful location. I saw The Ice Cream Dugout for sale. It was a dream come true,” Roy said. 

The previous owner and the creator of the idea for the Dugout, Troy Locke, ran the business for almost 10 years.

“He loves the Red Sox, we love the Red Sox,” said Roy. “I hope he feels he sold to the right people.”
One thing the couple would like to do is create their own homemade ice cream at the shop. They would then have the home team ice cream made at the Dugout and the away team made by Jeff Shain. “When we do it, we want to do it right. Best taste, best quality, best ingredients,” said Morrotta.  
They also created a few more sundaes to add to the extensive menu. With names like “Grady Sizes’More, Dulce de Lester, The Hall of Fame AKA the “Troy-eo and The Sweet and Salty Spot”, how can an ice cream/baseball lover go wrong? 

Getting involved in the community has been a goal for Roy and Morrotta as well, including a “Take me out to the Dugout” fundraiser competition for area little league teams and softball teams. In the end the winning team earns 20 percent of the sales for the event. 

“We try to give back as much as we can,” said Morrotta. 
The number one flavor served is cookie dough ice cream. They also have homemade whip cream as well as homemade waffle cones. They are open from noon to 9 p.m., but once summer starts they will be open until 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. on the weekends. 

“We can’t wait for summer,” Roy said. 

For more on The Ice Cream Dugout, visit them on Facebook or online at

Picture of Aliyah Rogan, 16 mos. With her mom Monica Dadiego and dad, James Rogan.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Business spotlight - Mainely Babies - By Michelle Libby

Anyone who has traveled with young children know the amount of gear that one small person needs. From a pack-n-play to a stroller, a high chair to toys, sometimes it doesn’t all fit in the car or on a plane. Mainely Babies to the rescue. 

Mainely Babies is a new company that rents out gear for newborns through 5-year-olds through their web-based business at The company is the creation of Cari Turnbull and Rebecca Spear, who are both mothers of two children under 5-years-old. 

“We have things that you don’t want to travel with,” said Turnbull.

The idea came from a trip that Turnbull took to Florida where she used a baby gear rental service. When she returned to Windham, she spoke with her friend Rebecca and found out that Rebecca had used a company like this on her trip to Florida. Since there was nothing like this is the greater Portland area, the two started their own company. 

Rental equipment can be delivered up to 35 miles away from Portland, meaning that they will travel to Augusta, Poland, Kennebunk and anywhere in between for a small fee. For under 15 miles, there is no charge. 

“There’s nothing like it in Portland. It’s a popular family destination,” said Turnbull. 

The company rents baby and toddler equipment to anyone who needs the gear. Perhaps it is a grandparent who’s having company for the weekend or travelers who are renting a house on Sebago for the week. Mainely Babies can accommodate almost any need and if they don’t have it and someone asks, they expect they can find the item. 

All of the items they have in stock can be seen on their website and can also be ordered and paid for with a credit card as soon as the vacation is booked. Each item is checked and cleaned with green cleaning products after it is used. 
“You can still afford your kids the comforts of home. It makes it easier for everyone in the family,” Turnbull said. 

The service isn’t only for tourists. Local moms might want to try before they buy expensive equipment to see if a baby likes a swing, for example. 

“We want to be known for quality stuff,” said Turnbull. 

Mainely Babies also rents car seats, which they don’t install. Prices range from $2 per day for a bathtub to $10 to $12 a day for a good, sturdy stroller. 

With Memorial Day weekend coming up, Mainely Babies is taking reservations. They are partnering with inns, hotels, wedding coordinators and rental companies to offer their services. 

The goal of Mainely Babies is to have happy, satisfied customers who come back summer after summer, Turnbull said. They two women would like to open other locations and possibly have a storefront where they can have mom and child classes and sell gear as well as rent it. 

A lifesaver rental, according to Turnbull, is an age appropriate basket of toys to entertain and keep children happy while on vacation. 

“The response has been really positive. We’re really excited about it,” said Turnbull. 

For more information, email or call 207-200-4613.

When it may make sense to borrow money - By Tricia Zwirner and State Farm

Few of us go through life without ever applying for a loan or borrowing money. Borrowing and repaying money can help you establish a credit history that will make it easier to get financing when you need it. But use credit judiciously, so it can help, rather than hurt, your finances. These examples help illustrate the difference between "good" and "bad" borrowing practices.

Good times to borrow

You're buying a home. To make a home purchase, most buyers need a mortgage loan. This type of financing is often considered good debt because a home is an investment that's anticipated to increase in value over time. The caveat? Look at your entire financial picture before taking on a home loan, and make sure you're buying a home you can truly afford.

You're adding to your education.  If you're finishing up an advanced degree or need additional training to move ahead in your career, taking out a student loan can be a smart move. Shop around for the most favorable rates and repayment plan.

You're setting up a household. You'll need some basics to begin with, such as a bed or a refrigerator. Essential appliances and furniture often can be purchased via installment financing through the store—but don't overdo. Not everything in your first place needs to be new. Thrift stores, yard sales and family members can be good sources of basic furnishings that tide you over until you can afford the items you want.

You're consolidating debt. If you have several credit cards with high interest rates, it may make sense to get a loan to achieve a lower overall interest rate and smaller payments. But note: Put those cards away. Don't rack up new charges as you're paying off the consolidation loan.

Good times to wait

You want to buy extravagant holiday gifts. It's never a good idea to borrow money—either through a loan or on your credit card—to spend above your means. Temper your generosity and choose meaningful, less expensive ways to remember others at the holidays.

You'd like a nice wedding. Taking out a loan to put on a lavish ceremony and reception that you can't truly afford could start your marriage out under a financial eight ball. Scale back your plans to fit your budget and focus more on the occasion than the show surrounding it.

You need a vacation. Travel typically costs more than you think it will, and if you have to take a loan simply to go on the trip, you're better off finding more affordable ways to relax and recharge.

Good rules of thumb

Borrow only what you need. While it's tempting to borrow more, you'll end up having more to pay back and risk undermining your budget.

Shop around for good rates. Compare interest rates and payment terms. If you have a good credit score, you may be able to negotiate a better offer.

Pay off credit card balances every month. Carrying a balance means you'll pay more for every purchase you make, in the form of interest charges on the amount.

Check your credit report at least once a year.
Knowing your credit score may help you secure more favorable rates. To get the most out of the free credit report provisions of the FACT Act, when you request your free credit reports from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, stagger them throughout the year rather than getting all three at once. This will give you a series of snapshots of your credit over a period of time.
However, there are circumstances when you might want to get all three free credit reports at once. For example, if you have a major credit purchase on the horizon, such as a home or auto loan, you may want to take a look at all three reports right away so you can correct any errors or inconsistencies before you apply.  Visit today.  

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Business spotlight on Northeast Landscape Design - By Michelle Libby

Ryan Additon isn’t happy with average outdoor designs. For 13 years he has been working in the landscape design business and eight years ago he opened Northeast Landscape Design, a company that focuses on using natural materials and xeriscaping. 
“We’re a green company. All of the materials are saved and we reuse it,” said Additon. “I think outside the box. I give them ideas they never even thought of – a one of a kind design.” 

Xeriscaping is a term to describe gardens that use little to no fertilizer after the first year. “The amount of water is next to none. Mother Nature does the work for you. The plants will require little to no work,” said Additon. 

Additon is also certified in erosion control protection for shoreline properties. Within 250 feet of a lake or ocean, the company has to have a certification from the Department of Environmental Protection, he said.

Work done by Northeast Landscape Design can be seen as an investment Additon said. “Esthetically will make your house look that much better. You’ll get the money back when you sell,” he added. “We give a unique perspective on what else they can do.” 

At one location Additon exposed ledge that a house had been built on and scraped it down planting in the veins and creases of the granite. It made sense on that project because “he can’t mow it.” Additon also enjoys doing plantings, steps and walkways, but said that he does not do maintenance or lawn care. 

Northeast Landscape Design is a smaller company, which has its benefits. “I’m on every project. From calls to getting the check, I’m there 100 percent of the time,” Additon said. “There’s no middle man. If there’s a problem we can solve it.” 

Everyone can benefit from Additon’s knowledge. He sits down with each customer to find out what they like and what their needs are. Then he creates a plan. “I’m very open with customers,” he said. For example, putting deciduous trees on the eastern side of a house allows for cooling in the summer and allows more light and warmth in during the winter, he said. 
Additon’s college training is in graphic design, but he decided he didn’t like what he was doing, but he wanted to use his artistic abilities in some manner. Landscaping fit the bill. 

Northeast Landscape Design is run out of Additon’s house, but he wants to talk about the customer’s gardens, not his own, which he admits are landscaped to the hilt. “I don’t want to be one of those carpenters who never finish their own house,” he said with a chuckle. 

Additon does jobs from Kennebunk to Oakland. He likes to stay in Southern Maine, he said. To contact Northeast Landscape Design visit or call Additon at 207-576-7402.