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Updated: June 16, 2022

Sea Bags continues expansion, but cautious on US economy

Sea Bags store interior Courtesy / Sea Bags A bit of Maine in Michigan: Sea Bags recently opened its seventh, and largest store, in the Wolverine State, in the city of Grand Haven, shown here.

Sea Bags, a Portland-based maker and seller of totes and accessories made from recycled sails, is up to 44 retail locations after opening its seventh store in Michigan.

The new branch, in the city of Grand Haven on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, is Sea Bags' largest store in the state, with just over 2,000 square feet.

Closer to home, the company is getting ready to open its second store in Portsmouth, N.H., next week.

Besides Portland, where Sea Bags also operates a small factory store on Custom House Wharf, Sea Bags has Maine stores in Bar Harbor, Boothbay Harbor, Camden, Freeport, Kennebunkport, Ogunquit and Rockland. The company makes most of its products in South Portland and currently employs 222 people in 14 states.

"In terms of growth and expansion plans," CEO Don Oakes told Mainebiz, "we have been busy ramping up growth and production in anticipation of a strong summer. Now we will have to wait and see whether people will be traveling as much this summer and if they are in a spending mood given all the negative news on the economy."

His caution comes as gasoline prices nationwide continue to rise after surpassing $5 gallon, and after the U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised interest rates by 75 basis points. That's the biggest increase since 1994, with Fed Chair Jerome Powell signaling another big move next month to tame inflation.

Oakes, who has led Sea Bags since November 2013, was honored as a 2022 Mainebiz Business Leader of the Year in the large-business category.

Earlier this year, the Milo native told Mainebiz that when scouting out potential new retail locations, Sea Bags looks for waterfront locations in ports, harbors and most recently, beaches, and for buildings with character.

"We're in locations where people like to visit and vacation," he said. "We find that it's a great time to be introduced to our brand and discover our products."

Sea Bags has stores as far ranging as Martha's Vineyard, Mass., where it has two locations, to Key West, Fla., to Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif. 

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