CEI Stories

Serving & supporting small business owners just like you.


November 21, 2018

Farmington in the Spotlight for Upcoming Small Business Saturday

In a town with 7,700 residents that is largely known as home to a state university, Farmington’s thriving downtown is an anomaly in the landscape of economically challenged rural downtown communities.

Farmington is an anchor town in Franklin county, featuring a vibrant arts scene, a sense of vitality from the students and staff at the university, and a downtown that is filled with businesses, manufacturing, restaurants, municipalities, and residences. People live, work and shop here, and with every storefront filled and operational, this small town, less than an hour from Augusta, has much to offer.

“If you take the people out of the businesses, you’ve lost your downtown. Our downtown is viable because we care about it. It’s a very personal thing,” said Cheri Tompkins, owner of Pins and Needles.

Women’s Business Center program director Betty Gensel organized a walking tour of Farmington, highlighting its downtown for Small Business Saturday, held on November 27. “Downtown Farmington offers a delightful shopping experience with one of a kind stores and food venues in an historical atmosphere,” said Gensel. “Shopping small for the holidays is a great way to find quality items, many made by local artisans and which have a story, showing the individuality of the artisan.” Attendees visited restaurants, manufacturing operations, general stores, and small businesses, many of which have been in operation for over ten years.

Sugarwood Gallery, owned by Janice Maxham, features hand-crafted furniture and home décor from 120 Maine artisans, as well as a monthly-rotating art gallery which is booked through 2023. The business has benefitted from Women’s Business Center trainings.
Origin Maine, a globally recognized brand, manufactures jujitsu and lifestyle wear and health supplements. The business, including all manufacturing operations, is in downtown Farmington and employs 45 individuals.
Richard’s Florist has been owned by Meghan Allen for over four years. She shifted from banking into owning a business, and continues to integrate into the Farmington community.
Pins and Needles owner Cheri Tompkins shares about her 13 years of experience as a small business owner in downtown Farmington: “I love being downtown- I’ll never leave downtown,” she said. “The community needs a place like this to satisfy both their creative side and their social side.” In addition to owning and operating a sewing and knitting craft store, she teaches a variety of classes, and is involved in community events.
“I really appreciate the small business support in town. Places like CEI provide a sounding board for questions like, ‘Is this viable?’.”
Remember to shop small and buy local this season!
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