Wiscasset, Maine is darling. It slopes towards a river-like ocean, populated by New England’s trademarks: colonially inspired homes, antique shops, a seafood shack and a Dunkin Donuts. I stopped at Erika’s shop, Rock Paper Scissors, on my first visit to Wiscasset for the first time about two weeks ago. I stepped over two large, lethargic dogs sleeping on the stairs and to discover neat stacks of stationery, jewelry from Japan and from a nearby town, bijous and baubles organized by color. Exploring the store felt a bit like exploring Maine- there are a lot of beautiful things packed into a very small space.
I passed through Wiscasset nearly a dozen times in the subsequent week on my way to jobs (and a short vacation) in Maine’s mid-coast. I decided to stop by the store to ask Erika about her life and the shop she opened twelve years ago. On my second visit, not much had changed. Erika took time to chat with me and other customers and the dogs were still in the same spot. But this time, as I looked at each beautiful thing, I realized that the store and each item in it is a product of love, vision and a lot of hard work.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU?
Family is important to me. My dog is important to me, she’s my buddy. I think good design is important to me. It makes me happy to find somebody else that’s doing what they love and have a passion for it- especially small letterpress printers. I get really excited about finding that new product, and so those are the things that get me excited and happy.
WHY DID YOU OPEN THE STORE?
I grew up in Wiscasset, and always wanted to stay here. So I went away to school and I came back and I was trying to figure out a way to make a living and stay here. And I had been working in a store and they offered me a position to take over the store, and I quit. I thought if I take over a store, I want to do my own thing. The store was originally two doors up, and that space became available, and there aren’t that many spots open. It’s a small downtown. So, I didn’t know what I was doing, but I took the space and made a store that sold mostly stationery. I went to school for art, so I made a way to stay here and do art.
HOW DOES ART INFLUENCE THIS STORE?
I think its huge. I coulndn’t find certain art supplies in this area, so I started bringing those into the store. Also, I have alove of texture. I went to school for textile design, so I love pattern and color. I buy what I love. I hope that somebody else will like it. But if nobody does, then I better live with it.
WHAT DOES WISCASSET, MAINE MEAN TO YOU?
I grew up in Maine, so this all is so familiar to me. I know a lot of the people here. I’ve been a lot of places, and I have never felt as comfortable or at ease as I do here. I love the ocean, I love the small communities. They’re hardworking people who have been here for generations and generations and that is really important to me. My family has been here forever. It’s good. It’s home.
TELL ME ABOUT A DECISION THAT CHANGED YOUR LIFE.
Opening a store. It takes a lot to run a store. Im here a lot. I wasn’t sure when I did it- I was flying by the seat of my pants, when I opened. I had worked retail but I had never run a store. Just figuring out how to make everything work was difficult. It was a good decision: I wouldn’t still be here 12 years later. My husband and I were just dating at the time that I opened the store, since then it’s been stressful at times because I’m here so much. He’s a teacher, and so our schedules are exact opposites as each other. When he has time off, I have no time off. But, it’s good. This is sort of a projection of me. So, it’s been a good decision.
TELL ME ABOUT A LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED OR ARE LEARNING.
I’m trying to learn to relax some more, and to breathe. Everyone keeps telling me to breathe. It’s a lesson I apparently did not learn. So, to not take things too seriously. And just enjoy what you have and not always be hoping for something else.
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE YOU?
It’s a little stressful at times, but overall it’s good to be me!