Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Business spotlight: Den of Antiquitiesby Michelle Libby

http://www.denofantiquitiesme.com/Finding pieces of history that have a story is a thrill for Sonja Nielsen and Jim Gammon, owners of
Den of Antiquities at 1399 Bridgton Road in Westbrook, just over the Windham line. They have been acquiring and selling antique pieces from furniture to cookie cutters for many years before opening the Den of Antiquities three years ago.

“We’re history buffs. We just love doing this,” said Nielsen.

They sold their antiques in other shops until it became too much to maintain four places. Once the
decision was made, opening their current shop happened in two weeks.

Den of Antiquities has 11 vendors on two floors, who offer antique and vintage everything, said Nielsen. “We sell re-new products, artisan pieces or redone vintage furniture.” The higher end, home d├ęcor or homemade artisan goods are priced appropriately and some people are surprised by the deals they find.

“We are very particular. We like diversity,” Nielson said about looking for certain items for the shop.
“We are a very clean and organized shop, not a junk shop,” said Gammon.

The types of items people look for change all the time. Right now, art deco isn’t as popular, but the farmhouse look is in, as is anything primitive or rustic.

“It just has to have the right look. Some like the industrial look,” said Nielsen. “We look for unusual things, antique military items - if it’s old and it’s in good condition we want to see it.”

This week they have metal stars from the Bates Mill in Lewiston. One of the most unique items in the store is a casket trimming table that comes with a swinging basket that was used to keep the tools in regardless of how the table was tilted.

Most of what Nielsen and Gammon do is educate the public on the antique pieces. Sometimes they are the ones being educated when older adults come in to reminisce about items they used or had in their homes. One couple, both 98 years old, came in and walked around for hours, then offered Nielsen $5 for the entertainment.

They always have staple items like jugs, crocks and glassware. They also have older books.
Homemade soaps are displayed in a dental cabinet which is a piece of dental history that is for sale.
“Things change in here daily. There’s a huge turn over. I sell one piece, I rearrange ten,” Nielsen said.

Regulars are always stopping by to see how the store has changed. All ages come by the shop from little kids who like to look at the ceramic figures or the little girls who try on the vintage costume jewelry while their adult looks around the store.

“I love the people. They come in and tell a story,” Nielsen said.

Den of Antiquities also sells Vintage Market & Design Chalk paint. The paint has been a huge seller. Nielsen helps people with their projects and she has begun taking on commissioned pieces. There is a huge variety in colors which can make the antiques unique and give them a pop of color.

Nielsen is a second-generation antique dealer. Her mother repaired historic items at the Smithsonian. Nielsen never thought she wanted to work with antiques, but after refinishing the couple’s historic home, they started selling again.

“We are always looking for good condition, period pieces,” Nielsen said. People stop by daily or call with one piece or a whole estate. Nielsen and Gammon like to have people do this as long as the item is clean and in good condition. They also have a flea market space in Oxford, Under Cover Flea Market, with their partner Ken Hall, where other items can be brought for purchase.

“If we buy it right we sell it right,” said Gammon. “Don’t be intimidated and think we have crazy prices.”

Starting Black Friday through January 1, Den of Antiquities is offering 20 percent off everything in the store, except certain marked items. They ship and freight pieces all over the world at cost. From a small item to a large piece of furniture, they will package it and get it to its new home. They also sell gift certificates. Den of Antiquities is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, year-round. Visit them at www.denofantiquitiesme.com and find them on Facebook. For more information you can also call Nielsen at 207-650-2729 or Jim at 207-650-3007.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Business Spotlight on Funeral Alternatives by Michelle Libby

http://www.funeralalternatives.net/When a loved one dies the most dreaded thing to do is find a way to honor their life without adding more grief or breaking the bank. Making the funeral arrangements is time consuming and many times filled with salespersons trying to upgrade Aunt Suzie to the Cadillac of resting spots. There is another way to honor loved ones in a respectful way that gives the family the control to execute the wishes of the one who has passed. 
 
There is a move away from traditional funeral homes with people choosing to have the body cremated so they can scatter ashes in a favorite location, display in an urn or put the ashes in jewelry. 

Funeral Alternatives, a full-service company with locations in five towns including Windham, offer basic services including cremation and a temporary urn as well as removal of remains from place of death, state permits, filing of certificates and forms and more. Owner and director Chuck Kincer started the company in 2002, after his work in the Navy as an aircrewman and after leaving his job as a UPS manager. 

“What I liked about the profession is you wear many hats, you mow lawns, meet with families that are grieving, mix chemicals for embalming,” Kincer said. 

Kincer owns a traditional funeral home in Richmond, in addition to the five Funeral Alternatives locations in Augusta, Lewiston, Yarmouth and Brunswick. Kincer acknowledges that his company is niche specific. People come to him because they are looking for a certain way to honor the family member or friend. 

“We are an alternative to a traditional funeral home, devoid of limousines and flower cars,” he said. “We offer simplicity and affordability.” The Windham location is a small office at 110 Tandberg Trail. The bright, friendly location has a display of holders to match the personality of the deceased. Some of the products are made in Maine. The simple locations have less overhead, which means the Funeral Alternatives can pass that savings on to consumers. They never push selling families anything. A lot of families appreciate that, Kincer said. 

Chuck Kincer, Owner of Funeral Alternatives
“It allows us to be in support and be involved in the community without a large investment,” Kincer said. The funeral directors live in the communities they work in. Brian K. Paradis is the director in Windham, but any of the directors could help a customer. Paradis worked in a funeral home for 18 years in the community. The other directors are Steve Nadeau, Katelyn Syphers and Jon Cain. 

“You’ve got to be really dedicated to be in it. You have to know your clientele,” Kincer said. 

Cremation is becoming a more popular option for families who are choosing to do special things with the ashes. Cremation offers time, Kincer said. For those who want to scatter ashes or make jewelry, this gives them time to get the plans in place. There is no rush to do a funeral, either.
“We try to make the experience about that person,” he said. 

Kincer also owns sister company Cotton Crematory in Richmond. “We keep the family’s loved one in our care throughout the process,” he said. Other places might have to use a third party to meet the wishes of their clients. 

Funeral Alternatives has a goal to respond to all calls of passing within one hour of the initial call. “I tell people to call me when you’re ready,” Kincer said. There is a 48-hour hold time from the time of death, and the medical examiner has to approve all deaths before cremation. 

The most affordable option at Funeral Alternatives is $1,425. The price can rise to $6,000 for a traditional burial. Some funeral homes charge up to $10,000 for a full service because of their overhead. Funeral Alternatives offers pre-payment plans with all arrangements done in Windham with a guarantee that the plan will be honored into the future without prices increasing. 

“We don’t put the money first, we put service first,” Kincer said. “No one else does what we do. Ours can be a little more involved. We help them out to the best of our ability. Funeral directors are unrecognized heroes. They work 365/24-7. If we’re called off we go.”

Funeral Alternatives directors are available all the time at 207-572-1456 or call toll-free at 1-866-761-0945. To meet with someone in the office, it’s best to have an appointment.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Business Spotlight:The Good Life Market by Michelle Libby

http://www.thegoodlifemarket.com/In 2003, Linda and Walt Manchester created a market where people can go to get unique and interesting things. Today, the market at 1297 Roosevelt Trail in Raymond, has grown and evolved to meet the needs and desires of the clientele they serve. From the hundreds of sandwiches they make each day to the unique craft beers and fresh produce, The Good Life Market has become a staple in the Raymond community.
 
“We wanted something we could run ourselves that could support us and have this as a family businesses,” said Linda. The market has evolved over the years and Linda is always looking for special items that fit with their image. “It’s a combination being responsive to what the community is looking for and having nice and interesting things.” 

One of the first items they chose to serve was a selection of Boar’s Head Meat. “It’s been successful. People travel to us to purchase that,” Linda said. The best meat makes the sandwiches the best they can be, she added. Linda is always looking to be unique and create new sandwiches with bold flavors. Many of the sandwiches are allergy and sensitivity friendly, with foods that are low carb, low fat or gluten free. 

“It changes all the time and we have to stay on the cutting edge of the what people are looking for,” Linda added. 

The Manchesters pride themselves on providing local products like Caldwell Farm poultry and Stonewall Kitchen products. They stock a robust cheese selection and unique snack foods. Linda travels to food shows to find new items and new recipes and she creates her own rendition of the things she tries. The most popular sandwich is The Good Life Club, a double decker sandwich filled with turkey and ham, Swiss cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato and garlic mayo on toasted sourdough bread.

“I’m inspired by what I see out in the world,” Linda said. Some recipes are personal favorites from when she and Walt were first married. Many times, the name of the sandwich will pop into her head before the recipe is developed. She encourages people to have fun when cooking and eating food.
Coffee is a popular item and The Good Life Market stocks its own roasted coffee under the name Swift River Coffee, from seasonal specialties to blond or dark roast, there is a great variety of coffee to choose from. 

The Good Life Market is an Agency Liquor Store, offering locally produced upscale wine and beer. The craft beer selection is extensive. As the demand has increased, they have added to their assortment. Since there is not a large selection of specialty beers in the marketplace, The Good Life is a convenient place to purchase them. 

“Periodically we do wine tastings at special times of the year,” said Linda. People will come to see what they like and then stock up for the holidays or for summer.

“We are fortunate we have a lot of customers. Seasonal people are from places where they are used to places like our market. We also have young families and local families,” she said. Family and community best describes the market. When many Raymond families lost power this fall, The Good Life Market put a post on their Facebook page inviting their customers to bring perishable items down to put in their freezer. 

“It’s going better than it ever could have. We have increased the employee base and that’s really gratifying,” Linda said. With 40 summer employees and 30 in the off season, The Good Life Market is a major employer in Raymond. 

The employees serve line crews, landscapers, retired people, and high school kids who stop in for coffee and to hang out on the porch. Mom’s meet up with their friends and eat in the dining room while their children play. Professionals and school employees stop by to bring things home for dinner after work. 

“Everyone is our customer. Everyone feels really comfortable to come in and find something they enjoy,” Linda said. 

For the first-timer, she recommends trying a sandwich, coffee or look for a new wine. Then stroll through the market and see what strikes their fancy. Maybe it will be the local popcorn or tea. A local beer or spirit. Try the Beast Feast, a selection of barbeque sauces. 

Food specials run Monday through Sunday on the website.

For more information, visit www.TheGoodLifeMarket.com or find them on Facebook. Order ahead at 207-655-1196.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Business Spotlight on Key Benefit Solutions by Michelle Libby

https://www.keybenefitsolutions.com/Having a lawyer on retainer might seem like something only the rich would do, but with Key Benefit Solutions, Eric Colby can show everyone how to have a lawyer on retainer, as well as protect them from the theft of a person’s identity and personal data.  

Key Benefit Solutions works with small businesses and individuals to save money, protect them and maximize mobile marketing. The company also acts as a commercial energy broker.

“I took the company and looked at what other people’s needs are and who we can help the most,” said Colby. “We’re there to help people, give them piece of mind.” 

The “foundation to everything is legal and identity theft protection. It’s about what makes you – you, from head to toe,” Colby said. If someone steals an identity, the crook will take the money no matter how much it is and then he’ll sell the personal information he finds, repeatedly. Criminals can commit bad crimes in someone else’s name and it’s the true owner of that name, address, social security number that will be held liable for the crimes. 

“The most valuable commodity is data. It’s more valuable than anything,” Colby said. When this information is misused, Colby’s legal solution allows clients to speak with someone about not only finding the breech, but stopping it, restoring credit and going to court to prove innocence.

“We’ll restore it to where you were. You don’t have to do anything on your end. We have agents who are retired law enforcement as well as professional and licensed people to take care of the issue,” he said. Employees won’t miss work and the questions as to “then what?” is taken care of.
Most places only tell someone that information has been compromised, but Key Benefit Solutions can help through the whole process.
Legal plans for individuals gives access to 24-hour a day emergency service and local lawyers ready to help you. From landlord issues to trial defense and simple traffic violations, will creation, and reading or writing up contracts, there is a lawyer on hand locally for you only a phone call away. 

“You’re covered in all 50 states and 4 provinces in Canada,” Colby said. 

For $20 per month, a person can be covered with a legal solution to any issue that comes up. For an additional $20 per month, clients can have peace of mind when it comes to the safety of their identity. 
Both fees include your protection along with the protection of your whole family. As a part of the legal solutions package, you download an app on your phone where you can also access their perks program, which gives you access to over 450 different well-known businesses who offer coupons and discounts, essentially making the service free and even paying you depending on how much you take advantage of the perks.

“It’s a matter of protecting people. That’s the power of having a level playing field. You want someone in your corner,” said Colby. 

Key Benefit Solutions and its partners have top notch customer service, guaranteeing how long it takes to get the work you need completed. 
Eric Colby

Colby knows about being poor, homeless and how to work up from the bottom, but as a Coast Guard veteran himself, he always seeks out the best in life. 

Over the years, Colby has seen a lot of mom and pop businesses with going out of business signs. “I thought there has to be a reason – more than the Walmart or Amazon effect,” he said. “I wanted to find ways to save small businesses money.” He does audits for businesses and families, looking for ways to save them money on their existing expenses.
By using Voice over IP (VoIP) and simple phone marketing devices, Colby can help small businesses and independent contractors grow their brands. This is also good for individuals who communicate often with friends or families overseas. It offers a way to communicate more effectively and for less money than traditional phone calls.
Most companies don’t use the marketing available to them, Colby said. With beacons that send out a signal 100 yards away, customers can be drawn to a business with specials or sales.
“Most people want quick and easy. Home businesses, arts and crafts, they can promote whatever they want,” he said.  A device like this is perfect for restaurants or real estate agents who can send a virtual tour right to a phone outside the house.
Key Benefit Solutions also offers merchant processing that gives a portion of each swipe to veterans.
 “We do everything we can to help keep businesses and families going,” he added.
For more information, visit www.keybenefitsolutions.com or call 207-636-7415 or 207-604-4710.