We are in difficult times. I am writing this on April 24, 2020, and thanks to the coronavirus we have been in self isolation for about a month now. This has affected everyone differently. Children are being home-schooled, doctors are seeing patients through Telehealth and non-essential retail stores have been forced to close. You truly don’t know what you’ve got until it is taken away from you, almost overnight.
An annual tradition for my girlfriend and I is to go to Portland, Maine at the end of March, not only to get away but to celebrate her birthday. We fell in love with Portland the first time we went, thoroughly enjoying all of the small, privately owned shops and restaurants. As the date for our departure got closer, we started closely monitoring what was going on in Maine with Covid-19 and it was obvious that we were going to have an important decision to make. Postpone the trip or go, with the plan of just making the most of it. We chose the latter.
One of the highlights of our yearly visits was staying at the Homewood Suites hotel. We decided that even if we had to spend the entire weekend in the hotel, that we would be okay with that because it is so nice. We packed up games and books knowing full well that we would be going to a vastly different Portland, especially since the majority of the shops chose to close down until further notice, understandably so.
When we arrived Portland was a ghost town. Though we kind of expected it, it was definitely more than we thought. For our first night in we ordered take out and stayed in playing Monopoly. Though we knew we wouldn’t be able to experience any of the shops we loved the following day, we decided to walk around Old Port if for no other reason, than to enjoy the fresh air and get out of the hotel for a short time.
It was sad to see the shops closed but we did end up finding one that was still open. It was Electric Buddhas Records. We entered the small shop and they carried a wide variety of things; everything from Godzilla posters to albums to old video game systems. The owner, Mike Breton, seemed so genuinely appreciative of us being there and we were so happy to find a store that was actually open.
We stayed in the store for about 40 minutes, checking out all of the offerings and talking to the owner. He was very knowledgeable and had fun stories to tell about the Godzilla posters, a personal interest of mine. He told us how that day was actually going to be his last day open as he was just not getting any visitors. He expressed concerns over the store’s rent and overhead, hoping that online sales would keep him going. We ended up buying three Toho posters, which we had framed, an INVASION OF THE SAUCER-MEN cardboard cutout and a patch.
That short visit was one of the highlights of the weekend. Not only did we get some great stuff to bring home with us, we were able to actually interact with another human being, one that was very pleasant despite what was going on all around us. His positive attitude was such a breath of fresh air, one we still talk about to this day. Mike was also generous enough to share the pictures in this blog with me.
In these difficult times, independent retailers need our support more than ever. They do not have the luxury of having a lot of money to back them up like the chains do. Electric Buddha is offering stuff for sale on their Facebook page HERE, and every bit helps. They even have gift certificates available. I cannot recommend supporting this business enough, as well as so many others who have been so impacted by the coronavirus. I cannot wait to go back to Portland and visit and support Electric Buddhas soon!