Small shops in the southern Midcoast report high sales this holiday season, and many owners said supply chain delays at national retail stores and high local COVID-19 vaccine rate may have contributed to the boost in business.

Tom and Lucy Boenitz, owners of Pamela’s World jewelry store in Bath, said they saw more sales this December than at any time since they bought the business in February 2019.

“Business this December was up probably 20-25% over previous Decembers,” said Tom Boenitz. “This year overall we had a 25% increase in sales over 2019, and about 40% more than 2020 sales.”

Lucy Boentiz said she felt customers were more comfortable shopping in person, despite rising COVID-19 cases in the state, this year compared to last year because many said they had been vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Our customers were happier, more festive, and more engaged this year,” said Lucy Boenitz. “It was a more joyous season last year. Health-wise, everyone felt a little safer, protected after being vaccinated and more in control.”

Within Sagadahoc County, 78% of those eligible were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Tuesday, according to state data. Statewide, just under 75% of Mainers were fully vaccinated as of Tuesday.


Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cory King said he heard nothing but positive reports from small businesses in the area during the holiday shopping season. Cory King said he suspected the supply chain delays impacting national chains and online services motivated people to shop locally rather than trusting items purchased online to arrive in time.

“Also, I think people want to get out and shop,” said Cory King. “It’s nice to get out when there’s a buzz and connect with people again.”

After having months last year when the pandemic first hit Maine where business was “scary low,” Hannah Beattie, co-owner of Hatch on Maine Street in Brunswick said business has rebounded and continued to rise into the holiday shopping season.

“We’re having 50% growth in sales this year,” said Beattie. “To me, that’s a tribute to the community. People really care about their local businesses and so they shop small when they can. We were holding our breath not knowing, and each month we kept having more and more positive growth, but we don’t ever want to think ‘This is how it’s always going to be.’”

When supply chain snags surfaced, Beattie said Hatch was impacted because the store, which sells antique and local artisan products, isn’t tied to one certain retailer. If they can’t get their hands on one product, they’re able to find something else to fill their shelves, she said.

“It has been a wonderful season for us, and we feel very thankful and hope we’ve helped provide what our customers are looking for,” said Beattie. “What’s lovely is when they buy our products, many times it’s directly impacting their neighbors. Our success is their success, and we love that.”


Tom Boenitz said supply chain issues didn’t impact them because they bought more than enough inventory because they were anticipating a busy summer tourist season, which trickled into the holiday season.

“We bought and invested a lot and while we had a good summer season, we still had inventory in December,” said Tom Boenitz. “When the supply chain issues arose, it didn’t bother us. We were well-stocked.”

Like Boenitz, Island Treasure Toys Store Manager Jennifer Friant said the business owners stocked up on products early, which helped the business have what customers were looking for when online retailers failed.

“I still have multiple stock rooms full of products and my shelves are full,” said Friant. “I’ve had customers say they wanted to shop locally and others said they tried to order things from Amazon but they wouldn’t arrive on time or they’re out of stock so now they’re scrambling to find things.”

Like Boenitz and Beattie, Friant said the stores have seen “an abundant increase” in sales this year, which continued into the holiday season. She estimated sales at the toy store, which has locations in Bath, Freeport and Yarmouth, rose about 30% this holiday season compared to last year.

“We projected that sales would be up, but not as well as we have done,” said Friant. “We usually have a busy summer season, then hit a lull in September, but we never hit that lull this year. We haven’t stopped. We’ve had a great year and love our local shoppers.”


In the early days of the holiday shopping season Sen. Angus King spent a day visiting eight small businesses in downtown Bath to tout the importance of shopping locally.

“It’s no secret that online shopping has exploded, and that’s fine, everyone does it,” Angus King said during the Nov. 22 visit. “We want to remind people that there are wonderful stores in the neighborhood. They were here for us when we needed them, so this is our opportunity to support them.”

Southern Midcoast residents aren’t the only ones patronizing their local businesses this holiday season.

The National Retail Federation predicted this year’s holiday spending to be the highest on record with more than 148 million consumers planning to shop in-store and online on December 18 – the last Saturday before Christmas.

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