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winter 2015

on adaptation, optimism and competition...

Someone somewhere has flipped a switch and with practically no warning, it's full-on winter in Maine. This year, there was no subtle slide in between seasons: we went to bed one night and it was fall, but when we woke up, there was a blanket of snow and freezing temperatures to go along with it. We lost some of our lilac trees in the deep freeze: seems the drastic change in temperature was just too much for them and they couldn't take the weight of all that snow and ice.

My husband and I talked about this situation with some of our neighbors and it sounds as if we're all in the same boat. Trees and shrubs that lasted for years, decades even, through tough Maine winters just couldn't take the first couple of weeks of November 2014. And while it makes me sad to see the snapped off branches of our beloved lilacs and I know they won't be very glorious when spring finally does roll around, in the long run this was probably good for them. Ollie remarked how they had gotten a bit "leggy" and the only way to remedy the situation was to cut them back to stumps. Mother Nature just beat us to it, that's all, and it was a blessing in disguise, he says.

I find this ability for optimism in rough situations in a lot of Mainers. We have a tough long winter around here (even without the early jump start we seem to have been treated to this year), so in order to survive, you develop a sense for looking on the bright side. An adaptation, I guess you would call it, or a coping mechanism. It would be easy to wallow in the misery of an icy stretch, or mourn the temporary loss of your lilacs, or curl up in bed until spring, but that certainly wouldn't change the situation, would it? So we strive to pick ourselves up by the straps of our Bean Boots and trudge out to face the next challenge head on.

It's not hard to apply these ideas of adaptation and optimism to my little business here in Damariscotta Mills. It seems that every year there is more competition both from local shops and from online merchants as well. I try to look at this as a good thing: my goal is not to put my competitors out of business, but for my shop to do well, and there is NOTHING like a new dose of competition to keep you on your toes. Consequently, I find I am having more fun with Alewives than ever before. I'm trying new ideas for events and branching out to find new lines of fabric, patterns and notions that no one else carries. This fresh new crop of competition lets me know that I am part of a growing industry. Like the old saying goes, a rising tide buoys all ships.

Do I sound like an optimistic Mainer to you? I do hope so. I rather suspect having competition is a good thing: I have no desire to be the only fabric store in the world, so competition is just a simple fact and in the end, a good thing. A blessing in disguise, as Ollie would say.

If you find yourself shopping at Alewives Fabrics (either online or in person) during the long months ahead, I thank you very much for visiting my little shop and helping support my business. I do have to say I find it quite easy to be optimistic when I hear from customers both near and far. I love when you show me what you have made with our fabrics, or that you enjoyed how we packaged your online order. I appreciate the fact that I am part of your crafting world. Keep up the good work, and here's to optimism, adaptation, competition and an early spring!


Rhea and all of the ladies at Alewives