Friday, December 8, 2017

Business Spotlight: Corn Shop Trading Company by Michelle Libby

Nestled among the idyllic shops on Main Street in Bridgton is the Corn Shop Trading Company, a
local mom and pop store that has made itself a place for unique gifts, useful items and some of the best fudge around. Owned by couple Pam Stock and Mark Grenda, the Corn Shop Trading Company is in its 18th year.

There is no shortage of things to look at in the deceptively large store. Whether pottery engraved with the name of a favorite lake is what one wants or perhaps stocking stuffers to help Santa, there is something for everyone.

“We try to do as local as we can,” said Pam. Items in the store are from local artisans from the area, then they carry items from Maine, then products from New England and a few from around the world. They try to keep items from local artisans stocked. The Corn Shop is a popular place for tourists and those in the area.

The Corn Shop got its name from the Corn Shop Brook that runs behind the store. The location use to be a cannery for produce grown by locals. When Mark decided to open the store, he couldn’t think of a better suited name. Pam, a retired special education teacher, started working in the store full time only recently.

“There’s a feeling to this store. There’s a positive, happy feeling,” Pam has been told repeatedly.
When the health food store shut down, Corn Shop started selling the most popular products like Dr. Bronner’s Soaps and local honey and syrup to meet the demand of citizens in town. The Corn Shop carries a large selection of Willow Tree figures, shot glasses, Northwoods Naturals, mugs, pottery, socks, T-shirts, and the list goes on and on.

Products are sorted into sections like nautical, pets, art, the popular Christmas section, and kitchen; 14 sections total. There is a selection of Native American jewelry, art and spices for smudging.
When shopping, Mark suggests three trips around the store. Once looking up, once looking in the middle and once looking low. It is impossible to take everything in with one circuit.
“You’re allowed to come back,” Pam said with a laugh. Everywhere one turns they see something else they can’t live without.”

Most people don’t leave without buying some of the famous fudge. Mark has been making fudge in the store for the last eight years. Although the base fudge comes from Calico Cottage Fudge, the flavors Mark makes are his own recipes. He worked on the pumpkin fudge for five years to get it right. It tastes like a pumpkin whoopie pie. He makes blueberry, eggnog, coffee and maple syrup depending on the month.

“We’re better than everyone else,” said Mark. “We ship fudge all over the world.” They have a fudge of the month club that entitles the customer to sign up for all or a selection of months to have a one pound package of fudge show up on their doorstep in the middle of the month. This is perfect to send to family out of state or someone who summers in the area.

Short on gifts? Corn Shop Trading Company can provide those unique gifts that can’t be found anywhere else. Beer soap? Incense? Personalized soap with pictures of Bridgton? Post cards to send home? They have all of this and more.

They have wrought iron hooks and other primitive looking items. One customer told Pam, “I knew I could get what I wanted at a reasonable price.”

Signs naming the lakes and towns in the region are in the store, and they can also be customized for no additional charge. The kitchen section is extensive with linens, woven coasters, placemats and rugs. They also have an antique section with cast iron products and other not-to-be-missed items.

They have bird houses made in Bridgton, ski signs, pottery from South Paris, items from the Progress Center in Norway and bells from the New England Bell Company.

“They’re really special bells,” Pam said.

They carry a New Hampshire sticker line and Maine books.

“We have the best variety of products around,” said Mark. “There really is something for everyone.”
Corn Shop Trading Company is open seven days a week throughout most of the year. After January 1, they will be open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and school vacation weeks.

The Corn Shop is low tech, preferring people to come into the store or call them. They can’t be found on Facebook and they don’t have a website. They are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the holiday season and normally they are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with summer hours extended from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Don’t pass up a chance to stop in, it’s worth the trip.

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