IN THE BEGINNING
In the fall of 2003, I came with my husband, Ernie,to the Oxford Hills so we could live surrounded by the beautiful hills, lakes and forests of Western Maine. During this time my husband and I would run errands in the area and wondered what downtown Norway was like in its heyday—with the hustle and bustle of all the various shops. We bounced ideas off of each other and asked what kind of a shop we would have if we ever had the opportunity.
Fast forward to 2012 when my entire Information Technology department was outsourced to India. I had to rethink my future. Following the normal job search procedure, I had resumes and applications within 50 miles of my home and was not having much luck. It was then my longtime friend, David Pitt, suggested I open a rock shop.
My interest in gems and minerals started in my teens. I had a great opportunity to volunteer at the Worcester Science Center (WSC) in Worcester, Massachusetts, now known as the Ecotarium. I started volunteering in the animal room where we helped the zookeepers care for the animals and their habitats. Occasionally, other areas of the WSC needed assistance.
FINDING MY LOVE FOR CURATION
One day, I was assigned to an area known as the Curator's Workshop. It's hard to describe after all these years the wonderment that was this space. ... Picture a large roll-top desk covered in papers and journals, scrimshaw whale teeth and other unique curios in the various pigeonholes of the desk, as if waiting to be appraised and cataloged. Mounted animal specimens surrounded the perimeter of the room and lurked in various perches. And on one small table was my favorite piece, a coconut geode. I had never seen anything so brilliant and dazzling. It fascinated me that something so rough and dull on the outside could be so spectacular on the inside.
It was that love that had me stumble into David's Stones and Stuff shop in Portland where I bought my first rough mineral specimen of chalcopyrite (peacock ore). Kind as he was, he took me under his wing and taught me everything I know and helped me establish The Raven Collections.
Surrounded by the Oxford Hills, steeped in the lore of mining, who doesn't know of the region’s world-renowned tourmaline and beryl? But there are hundreds of different formations of beautiful and fascinating specimens and so I decided I would open a rock shop filled with a variety of Maine mineral specimens as well as minerals and fossils from around the world. Now, we needed a location.
REVITALIZING HISTORY & COMMUNITY
We knew we wanted to be on Main Street and at the time, the renovation of the Norway Opera House was underway. We saw the space of Hutchins Jewelers and fell in love with the décor, the built-in cabinets, old safe and tin ceilings and walls. We wrote and submitted a proposal for the small business and it was accepted. To rebuild a historical landmark is a challenge. To make it viable is a commitment and The Raven is honored to be a part of the Norway Opera House renovation and development.
The years since we opened have passed and March 15, 2018, marks our fifth year since we opened our doors. Each year has presented its own unique challenges but in focusing on the positive, it has made me love the community we live in. Many of you have started out as customers and now are friends.
I have been able to witness first hand the kindness and caring of small town living and the effort people are putting forward to shop local and support downtown Norway. Without your continued support, we wouldn't be here and for that we are truly thankful. We look forward to making more friends and to continuing to encourage children to become rock hounds and fossil hunters.
NATURAL COLLECTORS & NEW BEGINNINGS
Many have asked why The Raven Collections? While brainstorming, I had numerous lists of potential names but kept coming back to The Raven Collections. ... It was then that I remembered ravens are intelligent birds and have a tendency to collect a variety of things, and I thought it was a great fit. Friends and family agreed.
It was shortly after our opening that someone had told me that ravens are symbols of new beginnings. Thank you to those who joined us on our journey of new beginnings for The Raven Collections, Norway's Main Street and the Opera House. We look forward to continuing to explore it all with you.
I hope you will come in and learn about rocks, gems, minerals and crystals and allow me to help you begin a collection or finish one ... although to most a collection is never complete.
Photo taken by the Advertiser Democrat