Big Barn, Small Batch
From April to December, Farm Plus Table in Cape Porpoise sells small-batch gifts, locally made home goods, and thoughtful kitchenware
When Liz and Bruce Andrews first opened Farm Plus Table in Kennebunkport’s picturesque Cape Porpoise neighborhood, Liz knew she needed to find some “mice for the barn,” as she puts it. The home goods store is located inside a large red building built in 1889 that once functioned as a livery stable. (Bruce and Liz even have boarding receipts from 1913 to prove it.) “Barns always have mice, and I like that whimsical touch,” Liz says. And so she went out and found some mice.
The mice in question are three inches tall and made of iron. They sit on a distressed wood cutting board facing each other, and one of them holds a small serving knife. “I wish we could figure out who put that knife in its hand and thank them,” jokes Bruce. “Ever since they did that, we’ve sold so many of these guys.” The figurines, the cutting boards, and the cheese knives are all flying off the shelves. “People often purchase them together,” Liz adds.
Although they have been in business for only four seasons, Farm Plus Table has already amassed a loyal following of summer residents and year-round shoppers. Before moving to Maine from South Carolina, the Andrews vacationed frequently in the Kennebunks, which gave them a feel for the community (and stoked their desire to move north). On the day I visit, the store is jam-packed with both people and products. Every available surface holds giftable wares, from locally made jellies and preserves to woven baskets and wool blankets. But while the outside of the shop makes a bold and colorful statement—as does the owners’ restored 1953 cherry red Ford truck emblazoned with the Farm Plus Table logo—the clutter of the shop’s interior is offset by the couples’ conscious choice to highlight natural wood, creamy linens, and off-white tones. “It’s how I decorate at home,” Liz explains. “My style is neutral. We often get the comment that our store feels so calming. That’s intentional.”
Also intentional are their careful vignettes, which Liz and Bruce have designed so that shoppers can either purchase items en masse or individually. Clean white ceramics from Vermont are paired with hand-carved wooden spoons and sea-salt–scented soaps, and eco-friendly Bee’s Wrap is presented next to honey dippers, jars of Maine wildflower honey, and cheese boards from Whitten Hill Studios. Elsewhere in the shop, Liz and Bruce have set up a collection of pet-related items, including cat treats, pet dishes, and a beady-eyed woven-fiber dog statue. While the items are eclectic in their purpose, they are unified by the Andrews’ commitment to promoting “small-batch makers,” says Bruce. “One of our favorite things to do is share the stories behind these products. One of the things that we’ve found is that people who visit Maine and have second homes here take a lot of pride in the place,” he says. He’s observed some of these summer residents touring the store with their houseguests, pointing out individual items and retelling the very same stories that Bruce and Liz shared with them.
“We see the same people come in every week in the summer. We joke that we need a frequent shopper card,” says Liz as she straightens a display of cookbooks. Bruce nods in agreement: “I think we have the very best customers.
Tips for Throwing a Perfectly Imperfect Rustic Dinner Party
- Welcome your guest in with plush blankets, a neutral color palette, and a variety of touchable textures. “Chunky baskets or tufted couches can add interest to a room,” Liz says. “In the store, we offer giant, thick-woven baskets that can bring such beauty to a living room.” She suggests storing soft wool blankets inside a rustic natural-fiber basket.
Not all antiques need to be restored, says Liz. “I’m all about things that are perfectly imperfect,” she says. Galvanized buckets with spots of rust can be used as rustic vases, lending a country vibe to a classic dinner setting, and the “rust adds character.” Blueberry stains also can add character; Farm Plus Table sells vintage wooden blueberry boxes that are stained purple, sourced from a blueberry farm in Calais, Maine. “If you’re serving dinner outside, they make the perfect serving tray,” Liz adds.
Entertain with locally made items. “It’s great to share these stories at dinner parties,” Liz says. In addition to providing conversational fodder, these locally made goods also support small-batch makers, like Rare Berry Farm and Northwoods Gourmet Girl. “And when the label is beautiful, like it is with Rare Berry, I serve it right from the jar.”
Finish out the evening with a simple dessert—like a caramel log from Suss Sweets in Nashua, New Hampshire. “We started displaying the caramel logs on wooden boards for customers to try, and they just took off,” Liz says. “It’s a great presentation—simple and unexpected.”