Photo by Antyna Gould.

This 2020 holiday season, shopping at your local businesses for gifts in the Orono and Bangor area is critical. With the unusually high levels of unemployment that were seen this year due to the pandemic and quarantining regimens put into place by the state, local businesses had a difficult time getting the number of customers and purchases they are used to seeing. 

As most local companies in Maine rely on the summer season to bring in tourists, the heavy decline in business this past summer led owners to struggle to keep their doors open. Now, with the holidays approaching, these local businesses are relying on sales this month to carry them to next year’s summer season. Many are implementing holiday deals, sales and promotions to encourage locals to do their holiday shopping with them. Being active in parts of our community and supporting them this season is more important than ever. Here are five local businesses you can support by grabbing a coffee and a baked good or purchasing holiday gifts for friends and family, each with their own special holiday deals.

The Nest: Orono

Located in downtown Orono, the Nest is a coffee lounge popular among locals and college students. The Nest offers a cozy, aroma-filled environment to relax, chill out and enjoy a hot cup of coffee with friends. With a full-service espresso bar, customers can order drinks from cappuccinos to lattes to iced coffees. Food is also available with a range from sweet treats to smoothie bowls. This holiday season, Nest is providing gift cards to purchase in-store to make the perfect stocking stuffers for friends and family. 

The Store Ampersand: Orono

After being open for more than 40 years now, The Store Ampersand in Orono managed to keep its doors open during the entire pandemic. Customers have been enjoying this small shop for years, and for good reason. Here, locals can enjoy coffee, baked goods, breads, groceries, cheeses, gifts and much more. For the holidays this season, The Store Ampersand is allowing shoppers to schedule Private Holiday Shopping sessions to have the entire store to themselves. With COVID-19 still a concern, this offers people a safe shopping environment while they get their holiday shopping done. This opportunity is available from Dec. 1 to Dec. 22. Appointments are for Mondays through Fridays at 6:15 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 4:15 p.m. To make a Private Holiday Shopping reservation, call (207)-866-4110 or email TheStoreAmpersand@gmail.com.

West Market Square Artisan Coffeehouse: Bangor

Located in the heart of downtown Bangor, West Market Square Artisan Coffeehouse (WMSACH) is a small, comfy coffee shop. With cozy couches and chairs, this local business is the perfect environment to soothe yourself with a cup of coffee. Pastries and baked goods are also available for purchase and goods from local artists are for sale. This season, WMSACH has brought back Jingle Beans, a blend of “washed and naturally processed Ethiopian beans” from Tandem Coffee Roasters. This blend can be bought in coffee bags to make the perfect gift. This local business is also advertising artist Samantha Bullard’s coffee paintings that can be purchased by customers. Each painting was painted with real coffee, and they are being sold framed and ready to go. Jan’s Heavenly Jams can be purchased as well, making great stocking stuffers. WMSACH will be closing Christmas Eve through the month of February, so be sure to stop in before they reopen in the spring season. 

The Not So Empty Nest: Bangor

In Bangor is The Not So Empty Nest, a crafty store that offers a wide variety of products made by Maine artisans and craftsmen. From unique up-cycled furniture to art done by local artists, this shop is the perfect stop to fulfill your holiday shopping checklist. This season, The Not So Empty Nest is providing lots of stocking stuffers for customers, as well as a new candle line that features frosted colors for the holidays. On their Facebook page, they have posted gift guides for shoppers to get ideas for gifts for family and friends. This past Sunday, Dec. 6, wreath delivery was available within 20 miles of the store, so be sure to watch out for similar deals. Now until Christmas, instead of 10% off Christmas decor and poinsettias it is 15% off. Lastly, every customer who makes a purchase in-store will receive a coupon for $1 off at the new Mainely Mercantile next door to The Not So Empty Nest.

Aroma Joe’s: Orono

Aroma Joe’s is a well-known coffee shop chain around Maine and many bordering New England states. This shop features AJ’s RUSH energy drink combinations, lattes, coffees, hot chocolate and more. Food is also available for purchase from bagels to cinnamon rolls to breakfast sandwiches. Currently, the Orono location is drive-thru only, but that doesn’t mean holiday deals are canceled! From now until Dec. 24, every time a customer buys a digital gift card of $25 or more, they will receive a free 24-ounce drink to use between Jan. 11, and Jan. 31, 2021. This deal is for app purchases only. Another deal is running until Dec. 31. Every day from 2 p.m. until close, coffee-lovers can order a 20-ounce $2 Holiday Drink. This deal is for in-store and app purchases. Holiday Drinks include the peppermint bark latte or macchiato or a salted caramel latte.

All the deals and specials for these five local businesses can be located on their Facebook business pages that are updated every week. Remember to stay safe this holiday season. Happy shopping!