National GPS tracking survey finds Maine visits to home improvement stores up 29%

Oct. 6—This week the Buzz is home improvement’ing, dining in the street and Halloween’ing with shockingly questionable taste. Just how questionable?

Maine allegedly loves candy corn.

We’ll let that sink in a sec.

First up: Mainers are apparently getting things done on the home front.

The Hearth Home Improvement Surge Study released this week used aggregate cellphone GPS data to track visits to local and national home improvement stores and found Maine ranked No. 2 in the country for the highest increase in visits from July 18 to Sept. 20, according to a news release.

Louisiana ranked No. 1 with a 48% increase attributed to Hurricane Ida. Maine visits were up 29%.

Steve Pray, who oversees Hammond Lumber Co.’s Auburn and Portland branches as vice president of the company’s southern region, said he’s seeing a lot of kitchen and bathroom remodeling this time of year, as well as new construction starts.

“The lumber markets, from their highest peak, have come off some, so people are starting to get their projects going that may have been put on hold,” he said. “We’re still seeing a lot of siding, a lot of interior work, a lot of kitchens, floors, upgrades to their existing homes.”

Another trend, thanks to more people working from home during the pandemic: “We are seeing quite an increase in out-of-state people coming in to turn their seasonal homes into full-time.”

Pray said it’s hard to know if more people are doing the work themselves compared to years past.

“Being able to get a contractor right now, a good quality contractor, is difficult,” he said. “A lot of them are booked out until even into next spring, some through the summer and fall.”

Lisbon Street between Ash and Main streets will shut down for three hours on Oct. 21 for seven courses of dining in the street.

Shanna Cox, president of the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, said the hope is that this is the first year of many to come for the Taste The Harvest dinner highlighting local food and chefs.

“We hope this event provides an opportunity for good food and a good time, while helping our local food economy — farmers, meat processors, cheese makers, brewers and vintners — be seen and supported,” Cox said. “This event will put dollars into our local food economy and support our shared work in growing the food and agriculture sector.”

The event also supports the work of the Local Foods, Local Places Action Plan, she said.

Food for the evening is being purchased from 10-plus local farms. Chefs from Sonder + Dram, Boba, Orchid, Cowbell Tap and Grill, Mother India, Break Coffee and The Green Ladle will be serving courses at food stations along Lisbon Street with tables in the street for dining.

Lost Valley Brewing, the Vault, Cellardoor Wines and Fiore Olive Oils and Vinegars are also participating.

As of Tuesday, Cox said about 80 of the 250 tickets for the night were left. is back with its annual list of the most popular Halloween candy by state based on 14 years of its bulk sales data leading up to Halloween.

In Maine, it’s Sour Patch Kids in the top spot. Starburst is second. Candy corn is third.

Nationwide, South Patch Kids were No. 6, Starburst No. 4 and candy corn No. 10.

Ready for more horror? used Rotten Tomatoes and Google Trends to find the horror movie that each state was most “obsessed” with compared to other states, and for Maine it was . . .

“The Lighthouse.”

Rotten Tomatoes describes the 2019 movie as: “Two lighthouse keepers try to maintain their sanity while living on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.”

You may remember it as the one with the very grizzled Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe.