Every year, the Coastal Journal does a very special issue that features some of the many businesses that advertise with us. The banner over this section varies a little bit year to year. It’s been called “Business in Review,” and in recent years, we like to call it “Spotlight on Business.”

It’s our way of – you guessed it – calling attention to those people and places that provide goods and services to our Midcoast communities. Importantly, these businesses also support the Coastal Journal, which since its inky birth 52 years ago, offers a FREE weekly community newspaper to readers from Freeport to Waldoboro.

You don’t have to keep track of 20 event pages across five social media accounts and bookmark half a dozen websites to figure out what to do every weekend.

Just pick up a copy of the Coastal Journal on Thursday.

In between, keep visiting us online. And, we love to hear from you on our Facebook page (you’re there anyway looking at cute baby and puppy photos … stop on by).

We provide this most useful service – in print and online – thanks to our advertisers. And honestly, we can’t say thank you enough.

Once a year, we dedicate the Coastal Journal to the businesses that continue – in some cases like Renys since 1966 – to make what we do possible.

But spotlights are even more than that.

Of course, if you live in Bath, you probably stop by Brackett’s Market occasionally. It’s great – as I’ve said many times before – for a quick shop when you need more than a convenience store offers and less than a full-cart restocking mission at a larger supermarket (though you can certainly do that at Brackett’s, too).

If you live just about anywhere in southern Midcoast, Bootlegger’s in Topsham might be a destination – return your bottles and pick up a few more with the redemption slip.

Renys? We’ve all adventured there. Wilson’s Drug Store in Bath? Where else can you get the brown-tail moth remedy?

But there’s more to a business than what it sells. Every business also has a story … usually more than one.

Why do we shop where we shop? Why do we eat here instead of there? Ever notice how some businesses have “go to” status and others not so much? (Call us. We can help.)

The businesses in our spotlight this year – representing different industries, serving different demographics – have one thing in common. They all put people first.

Donald Hammond, of Hammond Lumber, says it best:

“That’s the story right there. It’s about people. The more people you have with experience in this business – the more you can accomplish. You can’t do this by yourself.”

That’s a sentiment echoed by every business in this week’s Coastal Journal – and I’d put my money on it being a priority for most Midcoast businesses. That’s just how it is around here.

Lisa Osgood, the relatively new owner of the Kopper Kettle in Topsham, puts it another way, “Everybody knows everybody by first name, pretty much. And if they don’t know your name, they know what you’re ordering.”

Another interesting question is why do businesses start in the first place and who are the dreamers that get it into their heads to build your houses, make your breakfasts, or plan your party? Are they no less inspired than our artists, writers and actors?

You never know where your good ideas might take you. Dan Broadwater had one as he took a cab ride. A couple months later Ship City Taxi) is on the streets.

Did he want to own a taxi company when he was a kid? Probably not.

How, for example, did Richard Gnauck come to open a German restaurant in Brunswick, Maine?

Did you have to drive to Auburn or Augusta when you wanted to throw a birthday party for your four-year-old who wasn’t content with the local big box party aisle?

As You Wish party planners did, too.

Have you heard the backstory on Midcoast Lyme Disease Support and Education? Two local women who suffered from the disease made an organization that now connects Mainers to resources all over the country.

Like any good story, there are high points and plot twists, seemingly endless struggles, and soaring triumphs.

Through it all, the 11 businesses the Coastal Journal spotlights this year, continue to serve the people of the Midcoast.

Even after 30 years, like Richard’s, or 65 years for Hammond Lumber, or almost 70 (!) for Renys, and 25 for Wally J. Staples, Builders, these owners keep showing up and doing what they do.

“When I was younger I thought, ‘I’m going to retire when I’m 50, 55,’” Wally says. “Now I don’t know that I would ever retire because I love it so much. If you love something, and you really enjoy doing it and working with people, why would you want to get out of it? This is my passion, so this is what I’ll do.”

We’re lucky to have Wally … and all the businesses that keep the Midcoast humming with reliable commerce, exceptional service, and useful things.

We hope you enjoy the Coastal Journal’s annual Spotlight on Business. We change it up every year because we want to make sure we give all our businesses a turn to be featured. If you want to share your business’ story next year, let Annie Merry, Kathy McDonough or Dianne Ward know next time you see them.

Thank you to all the advertisers of the Coastal Journal. Whether you run your ad once in a blue moon, once a month, every single week, or every so often, your support makes community journalism possible.

If community journalism is something you support, too, stop by any of the advertisers you find in the Coastal Journal. Walking through the door is thanks enough for our people-first Midcoast businesses.