The founders of CrateFull of Maine (L to R) John Turner, Chris Avantaggio, and Nathan O’Leary hope the business takes off and helps Maine makers gain more exposure.

People seem to have an affinity for Maine. Whether they once traipsed through the woods at summer camp or vacationed on the coast, people tend to remember the state fondly. It’s a quality three local entrepreneurs are hoping to capitalize on with a new business they launched on Black Friday.

CrateFull of Maine offers customers the opportunity to receive or send as a gift a crate full of 17 Maine-made products, including items like evergreen soap from Chase Street Soap Co., a minimalist wallet from FlowFold, a pint glass from Sebago Brewing Co., and blueberry honey from Swan’s Honey in Albion. The retail value of all the items is north of $200, but a crate costs $99, according to Nathan O’Leary, one of three local entrepreneurs behind the project.

“Maine evokes such an emotional connection for people who have spent time here. There’s something mysterious about it,” said O’Leary, who owns Mainely SEO, a website design and Internet marketing firm in Portland.

O’Leary’s partners are John Turner, the founder of Traps Eyewear, which sells sunglasses with frames made of oak salvaged from old Maine lobster traps, and Chris Avantaggio, who owns the lifestyle company LiveME. Items from both Traps Eyewear and LiveME are also included in the company’s inaugural crate.

“The goal is to promote and feature great products here in Maine and help other small businesses get exposure,” O’Leary said.

The partners have a relatively small goal of selling between 50 and 75 units for Christmas delivery, but have the ability to sell upwards of 250 of them if the concept takes off, “which we’re hoping it does,” said O’Leary. 

Customers currently have just the one crate as an option, but they plan to expand the offerings to include a seasonal subscription service that would dispatch a new crate to customers every spring, summer, fall and winter. Themed crates are also on the table, such as a happy-hour box or a seafood box or a brunch box that might have blueberry pancake mix and Maine maple syrup. With such a diverse group of makers in Maine, the opportunities are vast, O’Leary said.

Their target customers range from those aforementioned people with an affinity for Maine to people who grew up here but live elsewhere to military family members deployed overseas to college students, O’Leary said.

“This box would be a great way to satiate that craving for authentic Maine,” he said.

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