Mung Bean is easily Maine’s oldest exclusively American-made craft store as it celebrates 45 years!
Sue Billings and Steve Madden, the sister and brother team, opened their craft shop in 1974 in the small Maine town of Coopers Mills. They named it “Mung Bean” after the tiny green beans they were sprouting for their vegetarian dishes. They had no retail experience, business training, or financial backing, yet proceeded with the idealistic optimism of youth and their “Maine work ethic.” And, 45 years later, promoting the work of talented Maine and American craftspeople continues to be their primary goal.
In 1977, they relocated to 37 Townsend Avenue in downtown Boothbay Harbor. Thrilled with the opportunity to purchase the building in 1994, they have enjoyed the freedom to expand the shop. Mung Bean now encompasses the entire first floor with many rooms and nooks and crannies for shoppers to explore.
Sue and Steve proudly choose the merchandise for Mung Bean from over 300 American craftspeople with the criteria of “good design” and “high quality.” They don’t always agree on which items to carry, but that keeps the inventory varied and always interesting. Over the years, they have developed strong relationships with many of the talented artisans.
The vast selection at Mung Bean includes pottery, jewelry, wooden toys and games, woodenware and carvings, hand-screened T-shirts, cards, and Maine preserves. The brightly colored wood magnetic name trains are the ideal gift for a young one as are the whimsical animal coin banks. The hand-enameled metal wall sculptures with images of flowers, birds, butterflies, and dragonflies are of the highest quality and will enhance any decor.
Sue and Steve value their local customers as well as those who visit every year from away, many of whom greet them with familiarity and hugs. They are all so pleased to find such an amazing collection of American-made handcrafts.
The wonderful employees at Mung Bean are like “family.” Some have worked with Sue and Steve for decades. Customers know them by name and are excited to see them time after time.
Sue and Steve grew up in Jefferson, Maine. Sue lives in Nobleboro with her two cats. Her daughter just graduated from Wesleyan University and is looking forward to a future that offers many opportunities. Steve lives above Mung Bean and when not working, spends as much time as possible at the family cottage in Jefferson and using his new tractor on the property there. Both feel fortunate to have found a career that is enjoyable and very rewarding.
Mung Bean is open year-round and seven days a week May through December. Hours in July and August are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Visit mungbeanmaine.com or call 633-5512 for more information.