As the weather turns crisp, stylish outerwear from Renys will come in handy for any fall outing — like this classic Carhartt vest with matching logo ballcap.Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
Sponsored by Renys
Given Maine’s spectacular autumn foliage, endless scenic drives and hikes, and parade of fall fairs and festivals, it’s little wonder that people start making plans to explore this state even before the first leaves turn.
But it wasn’t always that way. “In the old days, everything stopped on Labor Day,” recalls Renys president John Reny, who’s worked his whole life at the company founded in Damariscotta in 1949 by his father, Robert H. Reny. “Back when my wife and I were first married 41 years ago, Labor Day would come, and maybe we’d want to go out to dinner — but everything was closed!
“That has definitely changed in, I guess, the last 15 years or so. Fall is quite busy with tourism now. And I always tell people that if you want to come to Maine, come in September. Weather’s nice during the day and cool for sleeping at night, and you don’t have all the summer crowds.”
Renys has changed over the years, too. The business that Reny says his father launched with “just one little store and a prayer and a $5,000 G.I. loan” is now a 17-location department store chain that spans the coast from Wells to Ellsworth and ranges inland to towns like Farmington and Pittsfield. But through the decades, the things that keep shoppers coming back to Renys have stayed the same: quality, value, and one-of-a-kind treasure hunting.
“You’re never going to walk into our stores and say, ‘Oh, I’ve seen all this stuff before,’” Reny says. “Five days a week, Monday through Friday, we send trucks from our central warehouse to all our stores. We’re constantly buying new deals, so there’s fresh merchandise coming in all the time.”
That sense of discovery — memorably summed up by the store’s jaunty jingle “Renys! A Maine Adventure!” — goes hand in hand with exploring all the experiences that fall has to offer, from heading out on a foliage hike to hosting autumn get-togethers with friends and family. Here, Reny offers some suggestions on the budget-friendly apparel, footwear, travel gear, and entertaining supplies that will allow you to do more for less this season.
Whether you’re planning an all-day plunge into the autumn backwoods or just looking for a quiet foliage-lined trail, this fall adventure starts with solid footwear — and Renys has the names you know. “We’ve got Keen, Merrell, Timberland, all kinds of name-brand work and hiking shoes,” Reny says. “There’s sneakers, too, Brooks, Sketchers, and more, that would be great for walking.”
Pair them with some fleece and outerwear from Carhartt and Columbia, grab some Smartwool socks, and maybe nab a set of hiking poles, and you’ll have all the essentials for tackling Maine’s great outdoors. As Reny says: “We live here, and we know what you need — because we need it too!”
Try this: For a foliage trek with a bracing touch of salty air, head to Mount Agamenticus on the southern Maine coast. Rising some 700 feet above sea level, it offers sweeping views of the ocean and the White Mountains — all just a half hour from the Renys location in Wells.
Maine’s 3,500 miles of stunning coastline may be world-famous, but the miles of roads that wind through the state’s endless woodlands can be just as beautiful, especially when wrapped in autumn crimson and gold.
Road snacks are a must for any leaf-peeping drive, and Renys has shelves packed with tasty options. “We have tons of potato chips, from Utz to Fox, which are made right here in Maine and are delicious,” Reny says. “And we just bought a huge deal on Popchips, which we’re selling for $1.99 compared with $4 and change in the grocery stores.” Rounding things out: pretzels, energy bars, and sweet treats from national names (Welch’s Fruit Snacks) and Renys itself (chocolate bars whose wrappers even proclaim “A Maine Adventure!”).
Try this: Maine’s western Lakes & Mountains Region is home to two spectacular scenic drives: the Grafton Notch Scenic Byway and the Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway (which includes one of the state’s most gorgeous overlooks, Height of Land). Hungry road-trippers, take note: Conveniently perched right at the southern gateway to the Lakes & Mountains Region is the Renys in Windham.
September brings the kickoff of a new football season, and with it the thrills of joining other sports fans to cheer on the local team. Central to this autumn adventure? Smart tailgating prep. While hitting up a Renys store for snacks and barbecue sauce for grilling, you may also want to get your hands on a good cooler — or three. “We just bought some nice cooler sets that include a jug, a smaller cooler, and a 40-quart cooler, which is pretty handy, and that’s from Coleman,” Reny says. “We’ve got all kinds of different things with the Coleman brand on them, which means quality.”
He also recommended picking up some bag-and-go chairs, which are convenient, comfy, and complete with handy cupholders. Choose from the iconic Renys-logo version or look for the newly arrived New England Patriots models, “which will be good for the upcoming season IF they do well,” Reny says, and chuckles. “So, that all depends.”
Try this: One of the oldest liberal arts colleges in the nation, Colby College is also one of the prettiest, with its 714-acre Mayflower Hill campus filled with classic red-brick, Georgian-style architecture. It’s a scenic backdrop for a college football game and all the tailgating fun that accompanies it. Even better, it’s within 45 minutes of not one, but three Renys: in Gardiner, Madison, and Pittsfield — the company’s newly expanded, relocated store.
With its rich, warm colors and seasonal aromas, autumn brings an extra spark to entertaining at home. And for those whose idea of fall adventure is creating a picture-perfect dinner or cocktail hour on a wallet-friendly budget, Renys has you covered.
In addition to gourmet ingredients and nibbles (for instance, imported olive oil, olives, and artichokes), “we’ve got lots of charcuterie and cutting boards to make a nice presentation with all of it, plus tablecloths and decorative linens,” says Reny, who adds that Renys is one of the few places that sells glassware “by each,” instead of in a set — ideal for making sure you’ve got enough for an odd number of guests. And when the feast is at an end, inexpensive and eco-friendly bamboo storage containers are just the thing for sending leftovers home with your satisfied guests.
Try this: While stocking up at Renys for your party, make room in your trunk for a few — or a dozen — pots of mums, those timeless fall decorations. Renys prides itself on its quality and selection of these late-season bloomers, which are grown locally and, as Reny says, “that makes all the difference.”
For more information on Renys and to see store locations, go to renys.com.To read or download a free copy of Renys’ “Maine Adventures” guide, filled with ideas for what to see and do across the Pine Tree State, click here.