Two Fish boutique in downtown Damariscotta reopened Wednesday, May 27, but only for a few days. With a good measure of sadness and a dash of relief, owner Chris Hunt closed the clothing and home goods shop for good Saturday, May 31.
“I’m going to miss the people,” Hunt said. “I’m not going to miss paying the bills.”
In compliance with restrictions on nonessential business during the COVID-19 pandemic, Two Fish closed temporarily in mid-March. Hunt planned to open again once regulations were relaxed, but as rent bills piled up and clothes stayed on the shelves, she knew she couldn’t sustain the business. In a May 25 post on Two Fish’s Facebook page, Hunt said, “With deep regret I am closing Two Fish. The virus has claimed another victim.”
Hunt said the decision was difficult and emotional, but ultimately unavoidable.
“I still had winter clothes in the spring, and no income,” she said. “The rent was due regardless.”
Between Wednesday and Saturday of last week, Hunt did her best to offload those winter clothes, selling most items for just $25 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Though it was perhaps too little too late, business during Two Fish’s swan song was robust.
“Because it’s cheap!” said Hunt with a laugh. “But everyone has been really nice, really supportive.”
Many of Two Fish’s last customers knew the shop well and expressed their sadness about the closure to Hunt from opposite the Plexiglas barrier set up at the sales counter. One even brought Hunt a bouquet of lilacs, Hunt’s favorite flower. That this particular clientele was her last brought Hunt some satisfaction, and maybe even some solace.
“It’s a very good thing that all these last things are going to locals,” Hunt said. “We don’t see too many of them in the summer usually. That’s when we hide.”
Catering to locals has been Hunt’s mission since she bought Two Fish 17 years ago. She kept prices reasonable and sold products that were practical and wearable.
“It’s about clothes that people would wear around here,” she said. “We don’t need fancy clothes. A few nice shirts, black pants, that’s it.”
Debby Hidu stopped by the shop, one of her favorites in town, on Saturday.
“Many of my favorite clothing items are from here,” she said. “I’m very sad to see it go.”
As for Hunt, she isn’t sure what the future holds. She says she wants to get back to work eventually, but for now might go back to what she was doing for much of the spring: watching “Masterpiece Theatre.”
“It’s going to be different, no matter what happens,” she told one customer. “It’s going to be a different world.”