How can you resist going into a store called The Smiling Cow? Well, I couldn’t, and I harbor no regrets. (Get it? Camden Harbor! Ha!) The Smiling Cow has been enjoying a spot on Camden’s Main Street and welcoming natives and visitors alike through their doors since 1940.
And they have everything: maple syrup, wild Maine blueberry syrup, Maine stickers, glow-in-the-dark bracelets, starfish, sand dollars, dishtowels, coasters, stationary, mugs … the list goes on and on. I don’t know if I will ever shop for my mother-in-law anywhere else again. They even had wineglasses with lighthouses hand-painted on them. For a small store, they offered an excellent selection of local books and children’s books. My daughter picked out a new book about Rockport’s famous Andre the Seal. My husband was excited to find several flavors of homemade fudge for only $11.50 per pound. (And the day we were there, they were offering free samples.)
They seemed to have a gazillion funny t-shirts. My favorite was: Bring a compass. It’s awkward when you have to eat your friends. My husband preferred: If a man speaks at sea where no woman can hear, is he still wrong? And I refused to let him buy the one that said “Stud Puffin” on the chest.
Despite all of this, my favorite part of The Smiling Cow is the back balcony. In the rear of the store, I was delighted to find a door that led out onto a tiny back deck that hangs out over the Megunticook River Falls. The deck offered tables and chairs for sitting and relaxing and enjoying the harbor views. A small stand silently offered me, or whomever, complimentary coffee or tea. I couldn’t believe it, a little respite in the middle of Camden craziness! I think I could have sat there forever and no one would have even raised an eyebrow. The Smiling Cow is a truly laid-back, friendly, little store. The folks are genuine – it’s not just a show.
And this might seem like a small thing, but I just thought it was so cool. After we checked out, a kind young woman put our purchases in a hand-decorated bag. Not a generic plastic bag. A completely recyclable paper bag on which someone had drawn a big smiley face and written, “The Smiling Cow.” I know – it doesn’t take much to impress me, and yet it still doesn’t happen very often! I plan to return to The Smiling Cow every time I’m in the area.