Nobleboro Antique Exchange
FIELD TRIP-Jan/Feb 2012
By Veronique McCaree | Photographs by Amanda Kowalski
Do you love the thrill of the hunt? Game on.
Take a field trip to the Nobleboro Antique Exchange, a huge antique mall, restoration center, and—yes—candy shop in the heart of Maine’s midcoast
Nobleboro is one of those blink-and-you-might-miss-it towns between Damariscotta and Waldoboro. Yet it’s there, along Route 1, that you’ll spot an immense building that houses the Nobleboro Antique Exchange. The 10,000-square-foot store has long been a favorite destination for tourists making their way up (or down) the coast, and for antique collectors who come to see what’s new or seek advice from the only on-site restoration center in Maine.
Walk into its maze of antiques and you come out convinced that anything imaginable can be found there. A vintage leather mannequin? Check. How about a
mahogany slant-front binnacle? Yes, that too. A double-sided game wheel? Of course!
“Whether you’re decorating a house, an avid collector, or simply looking for a gift, we have thousands of items to choose from,” says Lisa Bottero, who owns the business with her husband, John Bottero, a professional antique appraiser and auctioneer. The couple pride themselves on the store’s uniqueness.
What’s referred to collectively as the Nobleboro Antique Exchange is actually about 70 individual merchant booths, each with its own distinct selection and flavor (translation: plan on spending hours inside). Bottero oversees the booths and makes it easier to find what you’re hunting for. She’s a self-proclaimed obsessive arranger and rearranger: “I love to refresh the displays then watch customers react.” While there are many factors that contribute to a sale, Bottero believes the changes always trigger a renewed interest. Customers will also find tips on reusing and repurposing vintage finds displayed throughout the store.
The list of experts who work on the premises of the Nobleboro Antique Exchange reads like a museum restoration department. Among them are furniture, painting, and clock restorers, lamp and lampshade specialists, and even re-tinning and silver-polishing experts. The Restoration Center is showcased in one of the antique store’s largest rooms, allowing customers to observe the craftspeople at work. “Their diverse skill sets lend authenticity to the store,” says Bottero. “They provide customers with a connection to these Old World trades and entice them to return with more treasures to refurbish.”
Bottero also features two shops within her shop: Circa Home Living, a manufacturer of American furniture and accessories, and Sweet Woodruff Farm, a purveyor of vintage gardening and country-inspired objects. “Customers are looking for decorative items for a cabin or camp, not specifically antiques, so it’s important to offer options,” she explains.
Wait, there’s more. Yes, really. While admiring the seaside paintings, old books, costume jewelry, and Staffordshire dogs (among other things), customers can snack on popcorn popped from a vintage machine or eat sweets from the penny-candy counter. This chock-full destination is definitely worth a field trip—make that several trips.