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2020--The Cancelled Year

One of the most delightful aspects of living in rural western Maine is the ebb and flow of the changing seasons. Each quarter of the year has its own characteristics, from snow to rain to Opening Day to colorful gardens to late summer sunsets to foliage. And then back to snow again to start the cycle all over.

Most months have an annual event or two that you look forward to attending. It is a way to see friends, to catch up on local news and very often support a non-profit organization trying to make money to fund helpful projects. It is a way to mark time from one year to the next.

2020 started out like every other year with snowmobilers, skiers and ice fisherman enjoying the winter weather. But suddenly in March things started to change, slowly at first and then rapidly. No flights permitted from certain countries and then the NBA and NHL suspended their season. Spring training ended with the hopes that the schedule would start again in May. And then there were the 'Stay at Home' orders with most businesses required to shut down. Countless meetings on Zoom as we worked from home Everyone agreeing to Flatten the Curve.

But then the weeks dragged on. The Boston Marathon postponed and later cancelled. Our annual trip to DC for Legislative Meetings cancelled and conducted remotely. Summer camps closed. The Charlotte Hobbs Memorial Library closed down with its re-open date still uncertain. The Arts and Artisans Fair was cancelled as well as just about every festival throughout the state. The entire schedule for the Brick Church for the Performing Arts schedule GONE. The Lovell Old Home Days 5k Run and Parade was cancelled. And now the Granddaddy of them all: the Fryeburg Fair. No Maine Association of REALTORS convention at Samoset. No concerts at Stone Mountain. Saco Valley Fire Department canceled its August Chicken BBQ.  And on and on and on. Our neighbor couldn't make this up in one of his novels.

One benefit of living in our western Maine town is the easy access to the outdoors. We can go for a nice walk by opening our front door. I can split wood and add to the long stack or pull weeds from the garden. Not sure how people, like our daughter, are surviving in places like Brooklyn.

I am confident that we will survive and prosper. It may not snap back quickly but before long we will return to some sense of normalcy. Until then, let's respect each other and work together to get there!

 

Charlotte Hobbs Memorial Library and COVID-19

COVID-19 has wreaked death and economic destruction around the globe. All communities have been impacted, even here in rural western Maine. Uncertainty abounds regarding the upcoming summer tourist season.

Here in Lovell, we have been living with a 'stay in place' order for more than a month and we still have a few more weeks before it may or may not be lifted. And even our beloved community institution, the Charlotte Hobbs Memorial Library, is feeling the pain. Over the past few days, the Board of Trustees has made the decision to close the doors, lay off all employees and suspend all operations.

Per their request, I am posting the Board's statement regarding their difficult decision with the hope that it can help get the word out to a large number of people. KezarLife is posting this statement but does so without advocating for closing the Library or keeping it open.

Please click here for a copy of the Charlotte Hobbs Memorial Library's statement.

2020 Kezar Realty Calendars

    Happy New Year! The 2019 edition of the Kezar Realty magnet calendar is now available.

    I will be sending the calendars out via mail and they will also be on the counters  in local stores  Or pick one up at the Kezar Realty office. You may also send me an email at stan@kezarrealty.com and I will be happy to drop one in the mail for you.

    This year's aerial photo is used with the permission of Kirk Erickson of      MaineScape Media (mainescapemedia.com, kirk@mainescapemedia.com, 207-330-0828).

    As always, not only is the calendar functional but it sure dresses up your refrigerator!

2019 Bowls & Brews!

Calling all Chili and Chowder aficionados! The Second Annual Bowls & Brews will be held on Saturday, November 9th from 4-6 pm at the Lovell VFW Hall on Smart's Hill Road. This event will provide an opportunity for both professional and amateur chefs to compete for top awards and bragging rights.

Bowls & Brews donates all profits to MSAD 72's Sunshine Backpack Food Program. This Program sends weekend food home to children in need in the three elementary schools within the system.

Residents, businesses and organizations throughout western Maine and Mt Washington Valley are invited to participate. There are two distinct categories: People's Choice and Judges' Favorites. Special awards will be given to all winners.

Building on last year's large and enthusiastic turnout, the well-known musical trio of Dave Kobrenski, Jed Wilson and Craig Bryan will be playing.

Admission is $10 for adults; $5 for ages 12-17 and free for children 11 and under. In addition to the variety of great chili and chowder, a number of Maine craft breweries will have their beer available for tasting. This lineup includes: Atlantic Brewery -- Bar Harbor; Rock Harbor Brewing -- Rockland; Lake St. George Brewing -- Liberty; Norway Brewing -- Norway; Saco River Brewing -- Fryeburg and Oxbow Brewing-- Newcastle.

And local bakers will be contributing delicious deserts for the popular bake sale!

For more information regarding the Second Annual Bowls & Brews, please contact Stan Tupaj at 207-925-1500 or stan@kezarrealty.com. Click here to print an entry form.

      

2019 Kezar Realty Calendars

The 2019 'fully magnetic' Kezar Realty calendars are hot off the press! Feel free to stop by the office for your very own copy or pick one up at some of the local stores. Not in Lovell? Send me an email at stan@kezarrealty.com and I will be happy to send you one or two in the mail.

For the past two years, some eagle-eye folks have spotted an error or two on our calendars.Minor things like the dates starting on the wrong day of the week or November having an extra day but not very helpful if you want to use the calendar for planning purposes! Well, this year, our printer, Nat Beal at The Write Stuff and myself, took extra time to make sure that there were no mistakes. I can now certify that the 2019 Kezar Realty calendar is 100% accurate! The same cannot be said for a local bank that uses local photographers' photos each month (including Lovell's Pam Bliss in May). I was using their calendar to proof my draft and discovered that they cut December short by one day! I sure did enjoy pointing out to them their mistake.

As always, do you want your fridge to be without this calendar?

Lovell Bowls and Brews

For those that remember, Lovell's Chili Challenge always was a popular event. Not only did it attract local chefs entering their 'special' recipe, people came from all over to taste a variety of very good chili. And to top it all off, significant funds were raised for the Fuel Fund.

Every year, however, there were a number of people who would suggest that a beer tasting would be the perfect compliment to the chili. As in many parts of New England, there has been a wonderful explosion of local craft breweries. Why not take the opportunity to showcase them!

So, this November 10th, we will have Lovell's First Annual BOWLS & BREWS. It will be at the VFW Hall on Smart's Hill Road from 2-5 pm. This year's charity will be MSAD 72’s Sunshine Backpack Food Program which sends weekend food home to children in need in the three elementary schools within the District. All proceeds will be donated to the Program. Visit their Facebook page for more information.

As before, there will be two categories, Judges' Favorites and People's Choice. A special prize will also be awarded to the Best Decorated Table and the always popular Bake Sale table will be full of goodies!

Whether you would like to cook or taste, be sure to come to the VFW Hall on November 10th. Please note that the event is now on a Saturday so you won't have to worry about whether the Patriots are winning or losing. 

Click here for an application form. For more information, please contact either Stan Tupaj at 207-925-1500/stan@fairpoint.net or Paula Hughes at 207-925-6846/hughes.paula@yahoo.com. And a special thank you goes to Paula for her effort on soliciting the breweries and doing the necessary liquor license paperwork with the town and state.

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Maine Vacation Rentals and the Importance of Service

It wasn’t too long ago that, when travelling to a big city like Boston, New York or Washington, you would take a licensed cab from the airport to your hotel.  Or, when leaving a restaurant, you would go curbside to hail a passing cab.

However, with the advent of mobile technology, travel patterns have changed dramatically. Pull up your UBER or LYFT app on your phone and you will soon have a choice of drivers offering their car to take you to your destination. And people sure do like the service of Air B n B where you have choices of renting houses, condo units or rooms directly from the owners, with prices somewhat cheaper than a hotel of large part of their appeal.

On the surface, this all seems very attractive. However, many communities are having issues with the short-term rentals. Problems such as too many occupants, loud parties with the renters showing no respect for the neighborhood. And from the renters’ perspective, there are stories of renter’s not finding the residence as advertised or not being told that they need to bring a supply of their own linens.

Which leads me to the following:

Since Kezar Realty opened in 2009, we have offered Vacation Rentals in Lovell and surrounding towns. In addition to listing and selling property, Broker Jeanne Bonner manages our Vacation Rentals. Jeanne has been matching vacationers with the perfect Maine cottage for more than 25 years.

In January 2018, Down East Magazine published an article “Home Advantage” that highlighted the positive resources that many local Vacation Rental Agencies in Maine provide, such as handling bookings, greeting incoming renters, coordinating Saturday morning cleaning, making sure the trash was taken to the transfer station and not left at the cottage, replacing misplaced/lost keys and much more. Kezar Realty is a member of the Vacation Rental Professionals of Maine, a group of about 30 Maine Vacation Rental companies and provides support and lobbying efforts on behalf of the industry.

An important element of renters arriving in Lovell is that they have a friendly place greeting them when they arrive and are provided with a packet of information about their cottage as well as local merchants and recreational activities. And if they need something during the week, they know that Jeanne is just a phone call away.

As we inch closer to the summer season, be sure to contact Jeanne for assistance on vacation rentals. And remember, you will be pleased that the personal touch is still considered important here at Kezar Realty. And that includes having extensive local knowledge as well as caring that you have a great experience.

Technology is great and we all benefit from the tools that it provides but hopefully it will never eliminate the Jeanne Bonners of the world.

The Tree Revisited

Thanks to Tom McLaughlin for an informative column on Rod Blood, Merton Blood and the Lovell Village Tree! Back in September's KezarLife posting A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.., there was quite a bit of feedback received and questions asked. It seems that everyone has an opinion on this intricate work of art.

Everyday I look out my office window and see the tree. Although the park is a good spot for the tree, I am still not certain that the current location is the best. Perhaps set back a bit further away from the Memorial, the Minuteman statue and the flag.

Here's a link to the full story on Tom's blog.

The End of the 'No Questions Asked' Return Policy

Image result for photo of the ll bean boot

Way back in January 2014, I posted about my very happy, one and only experience with L.L. Bean's famous 100% liberal return policy (KezarLife post here) Even though I am not a big customer of Bean's products, you buy with the knowledge that it will last for a very long time. So even though you might pay more for a similar item than at another store, you are getting the L.L. Bean value!

It is so sad that a high number of people took advantage of this longstanding option! The Company's Chairman suggests that people were exchanging items that they acquired at yard sales. So here is another example of how the majority suffers because of the actions of a greedy minority. And according to a Boston.com article, social media may have spread the word on just how to take advantage of the store's goodwill.

Here is the letter from Executive Chairman Shawn Gorman that was sent to the store's customers:

A Letter to Our Customers

Since 1912, our mission has been to sell high-quality products that inspire and enable people to enjoy the outdoors. Our commitment to customer service has earned us your trust and respect, as has our guarantee, which ensures that we stand behind everything we sell.

Increasingly, a small, but growing number of customers has been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent. Some view it as a lifetime product replacement program, expecting refunds for heavily worn products used over many years. Others seek refunds for products that have been purchased through third parties, such as at yard sales.

Based on these experiences, we have updated our policy. Customers will have one year after purchasing an item to return it, accompanied by proof of purchase. After one year, we will work with our customers to reach a fair solution if a product is defective in any way.

This update adds clarity to our policy and will only affect a small percentage of returns. It will also ensure we can continue to honor one of the best guarantees in retail, with no impact for the vast majority of our customers. To learn more, please view our full return policy at llbean.com.

L.L.Bean has stood for quality, service, trust, and getting people outdoors ever since my great-grandfather founded our company over 100 years ago - and that will never change. Thank you for being a loyal customer and we look forward to continuing to inspire and enable you to Be an Outsider.

Sincerely,


Shawn O. Gorman
Executive Chairman