GORHAM, Maine — Maine is home to a wide array of talented artisans -- skilled craft workers who create jewelry, glasswork, pottery, wood carvings, and other products.
But there are limited places in some rural areas for artisans to sell their products.
Mary Plummer, an artisan, recently opened a gift shop named Maine Micro Artisans in Gorham, giving people of all abilities a chance to showcase their wares to new customers.
For the past several years she has been selling her handmade soap and other body products online. But she saw a need in her community for a store where local artisans could feature their work.
"You have to go all the way down to the Old Port, or Freeport, or even Downeast," Plummer said.
The mother of three says her 14-year-old son Tyler, who is on the autism spectrum, is her inspiration. A budding artist, the teen creates comic books and graphic art.
"He is going to be entering the workforce soon and I want him to have a place not only to embrace his creativity as an artist but give him meaningful employment," Plummer explained.
She says there are very limited opportunities for people with special needs to display their creations and show the public that they are so much more than their disability.
The shop currently has 74 artisans featuring everything from chocolates, jewelry, clothing, knitted and crocheted items, art, and woodwork. There are also wares created by parents of special needs children for sale.
Dentist Flo Edwards created a special line of toothpaste called Dr. Flo's Tooth Polish. It contains natural ingredients in reusable containers. Edwards says the fact Maine Micro Artisans promotes inclusion is a big draw.
"I believe in letting everybody have a chance to shine and you can see they have amazing stuff here," Edwards said.
Plummer's son is working on a line of comic books that will be for sale at Maine Micro Artisans. He also may help out with customers and on the shop's website, creating an opportunity for her son to succeed, regardless of ability.
"He has a place and he can be seen as Tyler first and autism second," Plummer added.
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