By Becky Pritchard
BAR HARBOR — “It’s hard in Bar Harbor to buy furniture and carpets,” says Kimberly Swan.
That’s what she set out to remedy when she opened her shop, Juxtapose, at 43 Cottage St., earlier this summer. The shop specializes not only in furniture and carpets, but lighting, artwork and personal care products all meant to recreate “the feel of a boutique hotel at home,” Swan says.
The new store is part of the Swan Hospitality Group, which includes real estate brokerage, management and design for bed and breakfasts, inns and hotels all across Maine.
Swan said she sees this shop as an offshoot of the hospitality business. Many hotels have gift shops and she says Juxtapose is “kind of a test kitchen for hospitality gifts.”
Items that do well in her shop would do well in a hotel gift shop.
Some items are unique to the shop, like the prints of photographs by Lynn Karlin. All the merchandise is eco-friendly.
Swan is an ardent animal rights advocate. The furniture is made without feathers or leather and the line of bath products is not tested on animals.
Though she hopes the store will appeal to tourists, she sees this as a store for locals looking to redecorate or find wedding presents. The plan is to stay open year-round.
Around the corner and up the street, another new business has opened its doors at 150 Main St. Bliss is owned by husband and wife team Scott Mayer and Susan Nordman.
They carry a variety of crafts and personal care products, made by themselves and other local artists. The store features pottery, jewelry and their own line of soaps, lotions and handbags.
Nordman makes handbags for the Erda line. They have been available in other shops for years. The couple has stopped selling them wholesale, and will offer them exclusively at Bliss.
Another focal point of the store is the homemade soaps, made in the couple’s Lamoine studio. Mayer says that when the door is open in the summer, he hears people remark how good it smells inside.
“We’ve gotten a really good response so far,” Mayer says. About the name, Bliss, he explains, “that’s what we’re really trying to sell, just a happy discovery experience.”
Mayer plans to stay open through Christmas, and spend the winter making new artwork, soap and other merchandise. He anticipates they will be able to open for “selected hours” through the winter.