The per capita density of thrift stores in the greater Waterville area must be tops in the universe. While my mom and I have been hitting the clothes stores in downtown Waterville for a few years now, we only just discovered the riches of antiques alley in Fairfield and Hinckley, Maine (site of the unnerving and wondrous LC Bates Museum of my last post). As we left that museum and were headed home, we could not resist the allure of the massive Fairfield Antiques Mall, a sprawling and dilapidated barn/house? filled to the rafters with stuff. We got pulled down this rabbit hole, becoming completely disoriented between its multiple floors, half floors and basements. And we never even made it to the “annex” or the outdoor merchandise. What makes this place so surreal is its location at the edge of a field in a place where even the owners admit there is no there there. It is: “on the way to many of Maine’s tourists destinations. Visit us on your trip to Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park or Downeast Maine. We are on the way to Baxter State Park, and Exit 133 from I-95 is used by vacationers headed to the Northwoods on rafting and fishing expeditions. We’re on the way to major Snowmobile and Skiing areas. Route 201 is also a Major access route to the Province of Quebec Canada.”
This place is on everyone’s route, but at no one’s destination. And it is massive. We had the boys with us, so we couldn’t linger as we might have. While Malcolm is a dedicated picker, yard saler and thrift store frequenter, Simon does a lot of rolling around in the aisles and licking things. He did find one captivating creature who caught his eye though:
I showed great restraint and bought only a couple toys to buy my sons’ cooperation, a few old timer glass linament bottles and a 1960 edition of Niko Tinbergen’s classic work “The Herring Gull’s World.” My mother had her eye on a plastic lady’s torso that is illuminated from within via a plug. She inexplicably passed on it, much to my surprise, and we left the strange shop on the road wondering if it had all been a dream. How unnerving then, to find that my printed receipt read “There are No Returns.”
It turns out, however, that there are. My mother couldn’t stop thinking of the lighted lady torso, and the next morning, before she embarked on the drive back down to Massachusetts, she drove 40 minutes back up to Fairfield to retrieve her prize. And she reports that the shop was indeed there, and was no shimmering mirage.
We visited several thrift stores during our two weeks in Maine, all of which had their particular wonders. But I would be deeply remiss if I did not single out Madlyn’sin Waterville. This is a consignment shop with an exceedingly well edited collection, plenty of inventory, and excellent prices. The shop moved to a new, larger location last year, and now houses men’s, children’s, and a hilarious vintage collection on the lower level, in addition to the entire upper floor of things for the ladies. I got a sack of great stuff for thirty bucks, but the find of the day was a handmade, three piece tweed collection consisting of sleeveless dress, flared skirt, and jacket. They fit as if they were made for me, and since I am practically child size, this was a welcome, but inexplicable surprise.
In the vintage corner, I found a bright yellow pair of pumps in a wide width for my frog paddle feet! (The portrait I am painting of myself here is growing progressively less flattering, I realize.) There’s even a $1 rack where I got a blazer for, well, a dollar. If you’re ever in the area, stop in. The owner is absolutely delightful, and her shop is a thrifter’s dream.