Here’s the Men’s Section
Kennebunkport's Dannah for Men welcomes men who shop, and those who shop for them.
More than two hundred years ago, something happened to men’s shopping in the United States. The sophisticated men of the 1600s and 1700s had worn bright colors, jewelry, frills, elaborate wigs, and high-heeled shoes; they had refined taste in wine, furniture, textiles, and other consumer goods. But then came the Great Masculine Renunciation. This term (coined in the 1930s by psychologist John Carl Flügel) describes the moment around 1800 when fancy clothing and goods began to be seen as feminine. That’s when men started to stick to simple suits in dark colors and leave the “shopping” (a word that came into use around the same time) to women.
Rather more recently, Kennebunkport native Laura McCullough was considering the future of Dannah, the gift shop she’d recently bought from its longtime owner, Dana Sue Schoettner. Having worked at the shop for more than a decade, McCullough was used to being asked, “Where’s the men’s section?” The staff had treated it as a joke. “We’d give them a drink, send them out to the sidewalk,” she recalls. But in the summer of 2019, she decided to look at it differently. “I thought, maybe they are seriously wondering where the men’s section is. Maybe we should try out a little men’s section.” She cleared a space in a back corner and filled it with men’s socks, body care, and other small masculine items. “People went crazy,” she says. “We sold everything really quick. And I realized, we have no men’s store in town. Nothing just for men to enjoy—every store in Kennebunkport is geared toward kids and women.” In January 2020 she rented a retail space next door to Dannah and began buying stock for Dannah for Men. COVID-19 delayed the store’s opening until the end of July, but even with last summer’s restrictions on visitors to the state, it was immediately clear that the store was answering an unmet demand. “I think people felt that men didn’t like to shop, that shopping was a women’s thing,” says McCullough. “But more and more now, men are thinking about their appearance, wanting to take care of themselves, look good, feel good, smell good. They care about making their house or apartment look good.”
Five minutes into my first visit to Dannah for Men, I’ve made a mental list of a half-dozen items to remember for Father’s Day and birthdays (I won’t disclose them, as my family members are likely to pick up this magazine). “We have a lot of different things in the men’s shop that you don’t find elsewhere,” says McCullough. “Apparel, stuff for your bar, a fun book selection, stuff from all over the country. We have a great line of hats and scarves and gloves from Madrid, and a great line of belts and accessories from France.” There are also one-of-a-kind pieces from local artisans, including wooden bow ties and humidors made by Scott Dahn, wooden tables and boards made by John Dickinson of Winter Hill Farm, and charcoal drawings of sailboats by Derek Drinon. Vacationers will find games and puzzles in addition to more functional “toys” for the grill and bar.
And for those looking for the women’s section? The original Dannah is just down the block.
Father’s Day Gifts for the Design-Minded Dad
Clever engineering and sophisticated style make these six products extra-special gifts
1. Muzen speakers: Retro styling doesn’t mean retro tech in these speakers, which can stream music from your phone as well as pick up FM stations. The company makes speakers in larger sizes like the one pictured, but customers especially love palm-sized versions in shiny metal or lightweight wood. “We have a good sound system,” says McCullough, “but we just end up using this tiny one all the time because the sound is so good.”
2. Wallets by Secrid: These low-profile, unassuming wallets have a “quick access” mechanism that pops your most used cards out of the top, with room inside for a bit of cash and your ID. They are also extra-secure, with aluminum panels that protect cards from unwanted scans.
3. Rustico shop aprons: Made of waxed canvas with leather trim, these aprons are great for workshops, grills, or in the garden. The sturdy leather pockets and loops can carry hammers and trowels as well as mixing spoons and spatulas, and the waxed canvas looks great in muted natural tones.
4. Belts by Billybelt: This French company makes a range of casually fashionable accessories, but the belts, in a rainbow of seasonal colors, are especially eye-catching. Their woven design does away with the need for holes, so they can be adjusted to the perfect size every time—and they have a little bit of forgiving stretch, too.
5. W&P’s Sphere Ice Tray: If the dad in your life has taken up mixology, he’ll know that the shape of the ice cube matters. (If he hasn’t taken up mixology, perhaps you’d like to encourage him?) This tray turns out four spheres that will keep drinks cool longer without watering them down. They’ve been rigorously tested by the Dannah staff, who report that one ice sphere will last for two drinks.
6. Shinola watches: Watches are classic gifts for a reason. These are handmade in Detroit by Swiss-trained artisans and come in styles from sporty to sleek.