WELLS — So … my Mainer friends … if you are worried about Maine’s economy, let’s get something straight:

You can help.

Here’s how:

• You didn’t get to have vacation? Book it now in June in Maine! Florida, Italy, Arizona, New York can wait, but your little businesses right here in Maine need your help.

Our Maine businesses make our state stronger because we bring lots of sales tax and lodging tax dollars to make our state a wonderful place to be with great infrastructure – roads, schools, parks, the ocean, sky and land are all preserved with Maine sales taxes. Maine’s economy needs your help right now.

• Don’t act like a typical Mainer by trying to keep your vacation as cheap as possible while at home to go spend, spend, spend somewhere else! We are all guilty of this fine Maine pastime – keeping our expenses extremely low while in our own state but then going somewhere else and figuring, “Hey, what the heck, it’s Disney World, I’ll just dish out the cash like there’s no tomorrow.”

We shop at big-name stores and don’t even blink when the cash register rings up three-digit bills but avoid spending a dime at a gift shop dedicated to supporting local artists, crafts or industry. Take that cash and put it all right down in Maine’s hospitality and retail industry that are being so hurt by this pandemic.

• Book your Maine adventure in June because we business lodging owners cannot open our businesses to anybody outside Maine for the month of June! This means it’s Maine’s month, and this has never happened before!  

It means it’s our turn to rule the roost in Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. Our turn to stay at a beautiful lodge at Moosehead Lake. it’s our turn to explore Aroostook, Washington or Oxford counties. Our turn to take over the beaches of southern Maine, to hike our own Mount Blue. Our turn to eat the best lobster in the world and to frequent the amazing restaurants of Portland, Bath and Ogunquit. Our turn to sample local fare all over the state.

But don’t stop there. Think how much you spend on gift shops and activities when you go on vacation to a remote resort, cruise or other fun place. You need to drop that cash right here in Maine on our fantastic gift shops, antique shops and craft stores. Buy a painting from a Maine artist this year! Make it the year to buy that wonderful handmade pottery lamp that you’ve always wanted but never bought.

This is your year to go to those internationally named towns and check them out on that famous signpost “Norway, Paris, Denmark …” and buy a locally made item from each town! You know that signpost I’m talking about. Have you ever actually seen it? June is your time to go find it, eat at a local restaurant and brewery and stay in a little bed-and-breakfast nearby.

In the month of June it is up to us Mainers to save our downtowns, our hotels, our wonderful lakeside cottages and our beautiful beachside tourism! As someone who owns a lodging business near Wells Beach, I urge you to get right up out of your chair and book directly with a business! Do not use hotels.com, Expedia, Booking.com or any third-party booking agency because they take 18 percent of the sales away from the local businesses when you do that. Book with the hotel’s direct website or call directly and leave a message if you have to. Let your neighbors know you care and do this for yourself so that your state thrives through this pandemic! If every Maine household were to take a vacation right here in Maine, and spend every blessed dollar here in local towns (not Walmart or Target – I mean local stores), we would be OK.

• Get yourself a Maine bucket list of all the places you have always wanted to see here, of all the restaurants you’ve wanted to eat at, of all the shops you’ve wanted to frequent.

June is that time to check them out. Fellow Mainers, now more than ever, we need you. Let’s keep Maine the way life should be!

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