Keith Bellefleur, 46, is a crisis counselor for Sweetser in Lewiston who works three-day shifts  and Angie Wing, 41, is a special education teacher at Child Development Services, based in Waterville, whose summers are free. The Gardiner couple drew on the experiences of their lives  to develop their  side gigs.

What are your side gigs? 

Keith: Soken Sup, Southern Kennebec Stand Up Paddle Rentals, and Refined Pallet Studio. (Both have Facebook pages and websites.)

We have a fleet of paddle boards and do daily, weekend and weekly rentals with delivery within 30 miles of our hometown Gardiner.

Refined Pallet Studio, which is an up-cycling business that I do from home. I take broken antiques, vintage pieces, architectural salvage or really anything that would normally be discarded and repurpose these items for everyday home use. We have a booth at Another Man’s Treasures in Farmingdale.

Why do you do them? 

Keith: My wife and I tried paddle boarding several years ago and we enjoyed it. We started it just for fun in the summer. My wife doesn’t work in the summer and I have a three-day rotating schedule.We liked being on the water. We bought some, and we kept buying more. We have a fleet of 12 now. We’ll deliver to folks who are up here camping, or on vacation. We want to do more with trips on the Kennebec River. We starting doing that last year for ourselves. We’ll go from Hallowell to Gardiner, or Gardiner to Richmond.  We just loved being on the river. There is so little traffic. There are not a lot of people who use it recreationally, other than you do see some smelt shacks on it.

Keith Bellefleur, left, and Angie Wing stand with a Christmas tree made from an old door outside of their standup paddle board storage shed on Wednesday at their Gardiner home. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

When we rent, we rent the board, the paddle, the life jacket and the leash to be attached to the board in case you fall off or you jump off. There’s not a lot of training. We usually give a quick tutorial. Paddle boarding is great because it’s so accessible and it’s a really quick learning curve. If you can stand up, you can generally paddle board. My almost-70-year-old mother-in-law does it. Her husband does it. You don’t have to work that hard to get down the river.

Angie: You have to (have side gigs). You have to. Not because always for money, but because your real job makes you crazy. The plan is maybe someday when the kids are gone that they not be side gigs, but they may be main gigs.

Keith: Right now, we need income because we have children. We started planning this in January 2018.

Angie: He does all the things, like setting up the tax ID number and insurance, and I just go play.

Keith: For just starting out with no advertising, and really, just Facebook and word-of-mouth, it went well. July was quite busy.

Angie: I was surprised by the number of people we don’t know and who don’t know us but just happened to see about it or hear about it.

Keith: We rented to a family from Iowa that comes here every summer and saw us on Facebook and looked us up.

The second thing (Refined Pallet Studio) just kind of morphed and became something over time. I like to pick — I’m kind of  a picker. I like to go out and find random things. I don’t like to throw things away. I like to reuse things. I have a reclaimed furniture thing I do. We have a booth at Another Man’s Treasures, an antique shop in Farmingdale.

Angie: We bought this house. It has been empty for like seven months, and there were these random things that they had left behind, up in the attic or above the eaves in the basement. Just random antiques and pieces of just beat-up furniture. They left a ton of pallets. So he just started making stuff, and cleaning things up and painting things. It was a hobby at first until he started selling things.

Keith: That was about a year, maybe. Maybe a little more than a year.

Both of them are really things that I enjoy. it’s a creative outlet for me with building things and spending time in my shop. We both have pretty stressful jobs and pretty stressful lives in terms of a blended family. We share custody with one kid north of here and one kiddo and family south of here.

Angie: Sometimes it’s a lot of chaos.

Keith: We do a lot of running around,  so when I can just be grounded at home and working and building something —

Angie: And hopefully finishing this house.

Keith: — I am much happier. We’ll finish it in time to sell it. Then we’ll get another one that’s a project house.

Angie: No, we won’t.

Standup paddle boards are stored for the winter. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

Keith: Building things is my creative outlet: working with my hands, doing something tangible, getting some joy and peace out of seeing the end product and moving it on.

Angie: With the paddle boards, we both like the outdoors a lot. We wanted to find a different type of activity that people weren’t doing so much of. My mom is on a lake and we all love the water. I think we want to add to it with different sports equipment eventually, and get a site out of our home. We realized it was a lucrative, actual business when people wanted to pay us for it.

Keith: Over the last year or so, I really wanted to something different eventually anyway. Ever since we have lived in Gardiner, I have wanted to do more in the community here. They have a really strong small business community here. The paddle board thing, actually both things for me, are more about eventually doing something else, other than doing crisis all the time.

Angie: We live a normal, day-to-day, paycheck-to-paycheck life anyway. I would love at some point to do something I really enjoy, not what I have to do. Not that I don’t love what I do most of the time.

Keith: With the paddle boards, Angie gets summers off. Although she has the option to do extended school year stuff to make money, we wanted to find a way to supplement summer income with something we actually enjoy. The difference is night and day between what we do for our full-time jobs and what we do for our side gigs that there is an emotional benefit.

Angie: In this community, it’s encouraged. Everybody kind of comes together. It is a lot of work sometimes, but we’re more fulfilled having these other things to do other than go to work, and come and make dinner.

 


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