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Commentary
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he best-selling gift items at general and variety stores are often classic keepsakes that remind customers of a previous era. Equally popular are items specific to a store’s region that let visitors bring home the memory of a delightful vacation or day trip. This can be a collectible to showcase or a specialty food to devour.

Gift Buyer Becky Hall with Department Manager Gary Littley photographed in the Kittery Trading post with a balsam fir pillow display. The Kittery, Maine store’s most popular non-food gifts are items that symbolize Maine’s wildlife and its coastline. Photo by Laura Pridham, store photographer

Kittery Trading Post in Kittery, Maine, is an outdoor shooting sports store and a gift shop. Its best-selling gift items are specialty food items made in Maine, including Bar Harbor Jam, Ray’s Mustard, and Flo’s Relish. “Visitors are looking for a gift to take back, and they want something that’s unique to the state,” said Becky Hall, the gift shop’s merchandise buyer.

The most popular non-food gifts are items that symbolize Maine’s wildlife and its coastline. These items are displayed in groups by theme and animal species. Woods-lovers want to decorate their lodges with everything from dishes to clocks incorporating moose and bear images. Or they buy animal figurines from the 6-foot wide, multi-layered display that resembles a wedding cake. Tourists visiting Maine’s beaches often buy pictures of lighthouses, plush lobsters, lobster dish towels and lobster lollipops.

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