Portland, Me., has transcended the D.I.Y./Etsy aesthetic to become a mecca for high quality, crafted accessories, clothing, leather goods and more. It is locals who are driving this artisan movement in neighborhoods like the Old Port district, in the heart of the city, where streets lined with 19th-century brick buildings house stores, restaurants and bars. While the waterfront strip and the thoroughfares off the Old Port district are packed with pedestrians, Middle Street and a few streets around it see less foot traffic and are shopping gems. Yes, there are some chain stores here, but the locally owned boutiques, selling handmade wares from Maine, are the standouts.
Portland Trading Co.
Go down a flight of stairs and enter what the owner, Kazeem Lawal, describes as a “general store which sells a little bit of everything.” For Mr. Lawal, that means men’s and women’s clothing from independent designers, home goods, beauty products, shoes, vintage books and even cookware. But these aren’t your ordinary-looking items — everything has flair, and it’s easy to see why Mr. Lawal has a large and loyal following that includes both locals and customers who live elsewhere in the United States and abroad. From $5.
157 Middle Street; portlandtradingco.com
Rough & Tumble
It’s hard not to appreciate a well-made and stylish handbag. This spacious store sells a large selection of shoulder bags, totes, cross-body bags, coin purses and a range of other bag styles, all with an aesthetic that’s slightly rugged, yet chic. They’re constructed mainly of Italian leather and produced solely in the town of Brunswick, about a half-hour drive away. From $19.
Fitz & Bennett Home
Don’t let the small size of this home goods shop fool you: Lauren Maker Siviski, a Connecticut transplant, packs in an extensive assortment of merchandise, much of it handmade by local designers, including pillows, linens, decorative bowls, planters and doormats. Even benches, chairs and other small pieces of furniture are for sale. From $5.
Portland Art Gallery
A former convenient store and barber shop is now an airy and spacious art gallery showcasing the works of contemporary artists, both established and up-and-coming, who all have a connection to Maine. Shoppers can expect to see more than 200 pieces on display at a time (the gallery has several hundred more in storage) in a variety of mediums, including painting, sculpture and photography. The art on view changes monthly so there’s always something new to appreciate. From $200.
Whether you want to season your food with salt, use a salt scrub to soften your skin or take a shot of tequila from a glass made of salt, this store — a local favorite — has you covered. As the name suggests, the merchandise is all connected to salt. The seasoning salts are sourced from around the world, and some come in inventive flavors such as spicy curry and fruit infused while many of the nonedible items, such as the lamps and cooking and serving blocks, are made of Himalayan salt. From $2.