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Updated: May 14, 2024

As development surges in Norway, retailer finds larger space in historic opera house

soft goods on display Courtesy / Cait Bourgault Photography The Woods Maine Shop branded products sold well from the get-go.

A Norway retailer needed more space to handle its expanding product lines and online order fulfillment.

So Samantha and Rob Masabny, owners of the Woods Maine Shop, moved from 600 square feet of leased space at 374 Main St. to a new location, several times larger, just two doors down, at 400 Main St. in the historic Norway Opera House. The shop opened there May 2.

“The new space has allowed us to expand the Woods Maine home collection, but also curate additional home goods perfect for camp, lake and home,” Samantha Masabny told Mainebiz.

From tech to treehouse

Former executives with HubSpot, a software startup in Cambridge, Mass., the Masabnys moved to the Oxford County town of Norway after a visit. 

“We came up for a short weekend and fell in love with the town," said Masabny. “A few years later while recovering from a spine operation, our friend came to visit me and asked when we were going to get some land.”

That night Rob went online and found property. The couple put in an offer a week later.

3 people facing forward
Courtesy / Media Northeast
Samantha and Rob Masabny opened the Woods Maine Shop in 2023.

In addition to having their own home in the town, they commissioned Nelson Treehouse, based in Washington, to design and build a two-bedroom, two-bathroom treehouse to offer as a luxury rental. The treehouse went live in 2019. Anchour, a marketing agency in Lewiston, provided branding materials, which included an illustration of pine trees.

Masabny used the materials to create a small collection of long-sleeve shirts and children’s T-shirts, and debuted them that year at a local shop called Tribune Books & Gifts. The apparel sold out the same day.

That success led to establishing a small pop-up space inside a  home goods store called Brick & Mortar, at 400 Main St. The products continued to sell well and Masabny realized she had a brand that was independent of the treehouse.

No-brainer move

Around the same time, the couple established an online store and also decided to open their own in-person shop. Eventually they found 374 Main St.

“The storefront was occupied by the building owner,” said Masabny. “I convinced him to let me move in. We opened within six weeks.”

That was June 1, 2023. 

This past February, the couple said, the owner of Brick & Mortar asked if they wanted to take over his space at 400 Main St.

“When this became available, it was a no-brainer for us,” said Masabny. 

room full of stuff
Courtesy / Cait Bourgault Photography
More space at 400 Main St. meant the retail shop could expand its own product lines and carry others.

The 374 Main St. shop, serving customers in-store and fulfilling online orders, could no longer handle efficient operations. In addition, the location “didn’t allow for us to express ourselves and aesthetically align with our brand,” she said.

With more space at 400 Main St., they expanded their own home and apparel lines and started to carry and collaborate with other Maine brands such as Cape Elizabeth blanket retailer ChappyWrap and Portland-based Sea Bags. The couple also works now with out-of-state brands that fit the Woods Maine Shop character, such as Jellycat and Give'r Gloves.

From the operational standpoint, Samantha Masabny said, 400 Main St. drives more efficiency for the team and the process. Renovations included new paint and fixtures and fixes to the walls and the tin ceiling.

shop window with words
Courtesy / Cait Bourgault Photography
A Norway retailer, needing more space to handle the expansion of its product lines plus online order fulfillment, moved to 400 Main St. in the historic Norway Opera House.

“Our goal was to highlight the historical elegance of the space and complement it with our design and aesthetic,” she said. “The other goal we had for the space was to weave the Woods Maine Treehouse design into the shop design, so guests and customers could experience the brand more holistically in both spaces.”

Financing for renovations and fit-up came through sweat equity and cash.

Norway is undergoing a surge of development activity. The Norway Opera House, over a century old, expects to begin renovations of the upper stories using $1.79 million in funds approved earlier this year by the U.S. Senate as a part of the FY24 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill.

Development of an arts center is making progress, as a nonprofit called Lights Out Gallery renovates an old factory to become a physical hub for artists and the community.

The Masabnys said the momentum for Norway businesses and the community is building, thanks to a culture of collaboration.

And they’re happy with their decision to move to Norway. 

“It’s a great community,” said Samantha.

Added Rob, “Never moving.”

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