Damariscotta welcomed a new business to its downtown Saturday, May 22, when The Kingfisher and The Queen opened its doors at 79 Main St.
Owned by Roger and Prudence Kiessling, of Alna, The Kingfisher and The Queen carries unique vintage finds, new housewares, and a little bit of everything in between.
Last winter, the Kiesslings found themselves “in an in-between space,” Prudence Kiessling said. Roger Kiessling had just stepped back from a career in transit, while Prudence Kiessling had been working in education for a number of years, most recently as a substitute teacher at Great Salt Bay Community School in Damariscotta.
“We both had this free time and the space to think about what we wanted to do next,” Prudence Kiessling said. “And even before COVID, I knew I loved teaching but I was ready to move on, and I really felt the need to do something a little more creative and express myself.”
“This was really the right time to do something like this,” Roger Kiessling said.
Knowing they wanted to set up shop in Damariscotta, the Kiesslings looked for the perfect storefront. They looked at 79 Main St., formerly home to Wooden Alchemy, in late February; leased the space starting March 1; and immediately got to work transforming it to suit their vision. Renovations included removing a wall to open up the space and painting the interior white, giving it a brighter appearance.
“It feels like building Rome in a day, but we did it in less than three months,” Prudence Kiessling said. “That’s how we do things. We love renovating old houses together, and we like finding that diamond in the rough.”
To curate The Kingfisher and The Queen’s inventory, Prudence Kiessling started by calling brands of items the couple uses in their home and hunting down vintage finds.
“I wanted it to feel classic and elegant, but with a twist,” Prudence Kiessling said. “When it came to finding stuff for the store, I looked for things I loved and would want in our home, because this is sort of an extension of our home.”
She applied that mentality to the layout of the store as well. Upon entering The Kingfisher and The Queen, customers browse through kitchenware, cookbooks, candles, and home goods. A vintage sink anchors an area dedicated to bath and body products, which gives way to a selection of curated cards and paper goods.
“We didn’t want to have too much, because we have a great bookstore here, but it’s just enough so that if people need to swing in and grab a quick gift and a card, they can find it here,” Prudence Kiessling said.
The second room, referred to as “the study” by Roger Kiessling, features glasses, barware, and other items for entertaining guests.
Finally, customers can find quality clothes for babies up to 24 months old and a wide selection of quality children’s toys and activities in the back room, which faces the Damariscotta River.
“Pru really does a great job of laying out spaces and making everything look like it just belongs there,” Roger Kiessling said of the store’s layout.
“I do paper collage, and I love decorating homes as well, so I have a passion for styling and arranging things,” Prudence Kiessling said. “This was a good way to put that into practice and share it with others.”
A lot of the items in The Kingfisher and The Queen have stories behind them, Prudence Kiessling said, and while merchandise in the store will evolve, she hopes to have some constants always available.
However, when it comes to the vintage items, “once it’s gone, it’s gone,” Roger Kiessling said.
Prudence Kiessling credited her husband with thinking up the store’s name, which is somewhat inspired by the Edward Lear poem “The Owl and the Pussy-Cat.”
“It’s a name Roger just said out loud and it clicked,” Prudence Kiessling said. “We live on the Sheepscot (River) and have a ton of kingfishers by the house, so it was a bit of a play on that.”
“And then for the queen,” Roger Kiessling said, pointing at his smiling wife, “there is no play on that!”
The Kingfisher and The Queen is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Private shopping is available before and after the store opens by request.
Roger and Prudence Kiessling said they hope to hold events at the store, including an opening celebration, as the summer goes on. In the meantime, they’re excited to be a part of the business community in the Twin Villages.
“We love Damariscotta because it’s so supportive of local businesses and has such a nice downtown that’s vibrant throughout the year,” Prudence Kiessling said. “We’re just excited to get open and see people.”