Two Bootstrapped Maine businesses

As promised, in this and one or two additional posts, I’ll describe briefly several Maine businesses that are examples of the genre of bootstrapped businesses, and that have prospered without a huge influx of venture capital.

#1: Designer bags from used & recycled sails!
While exploring one of of the piers on Portland’s working waterfront, I came across Sea Bags.  It was before the doors were open, so I returned a day later during normal business hours.  At that time I observed 6-9  seamstresses hard at work, the store manager, and a couple other staff.  Also at this headquarters location was a large inventory of bags for purchase, or to serve as models of what Sea Bags could do on a custom basis.

As background, in 1999, Sea Bags was the first in the market to design and manufacture handmade tote bags and accessories from recycled sails. Founded and headquartered in Portland, Sea Bags claims it is built around three cornerstones: keeping production local, green in product and practice, and being involved in the community.

While the company has grown to nearly 50 employees, it is still located on the Portland’s working waterfront where all its bags are manufactured.  The product line now ranges from totes and wine bags to home decor and accessories. Custom Designed Sea Bags are also a cornerstone of the brand, allowing customers to design a Sea Bag that reflects their own style and personality.

Sea Bags is unique in that all products are handmade from recycled sails, ensuring that each bag is truly one-of-a-kind. The sail’s previous life on the water is apparent through the natural markings featured on the material that can range from salt and rust to wear and color variations.

Sea Bags recently opened their third retail location and first outside of Maine in Cape May, NJ.

Note: Sea Bags has a policy of no photos while in their facility.  Please see their website at for photos, order forms, loads of press mentions, etc.


#2: Entertaining and instructional boat tour with a real lobsterman!
Here we discuss a wonderful tour, described more fully on Captain John’s website,

Captain John himself!  He does all the LuLu tours.

Captain John himself! He does all the LuLu tours.

From “Captain John Nicolai is one of Maine’s most knowledgeable and entertaining lobster experts. The Captain has made it his mission to help sustain Maine’s lobster fishery by promoting its rich history and traditions, and teaching the importance of preserving the state’s lobster population. His belief is that the process starts by educating people. Captain John’s enthusiasm and sense of humor, as well as his great repertoire of tales from the Maine coast, make his presentations as fun as they are informative. The Captain has been featured many times in the national and international media, including the CBS Morning Show, the Food Network, the Travel Channel, PBS, the Outdoor Channel, the Outdoor Living Network, ITV of Ireland, TF1 of France and Japanese television, to name just a few.”

LuLu seats 40 or so customers and we understand Captain John does over 400 trips/year, working, obviously, only during the warmer months. Very knowledgeable about Maine and the lobster ecosystem and business, he also gives talks and lectures and especially likes to do so in Hawaii!

My wife and I were really fortunate to hear by word of mouth of this tour, which is out of Bar Harbor.  Not only does it offer an education on lobsters, but that is preceded by a run out to Eggrock Lighthouse and great views of nearby wildlife (seals, seabirds).  

Eggrock Lighthouse is a few miles out of Bar Harbor

Eggrock Lighthouse is a few miles out of Bar Harbor

Seals lounging as we passed by

Seals lounging as we passed by

In sum, the tour was exceptional, the best of its class, and is highly recommended.


One view of the crustacean closely identified with Maine, taken soon after we disembarked.

One view of the crustacean closely identified with Maine, taken soon after we disembarked.

P.S. Please don’t miss the details on Captain John, linked to here.  Yes, he’s a real entrepreneur.  In Maine.



Note: this and any future post is without commercial consideration – the comments are mine alone except when noted otherwise.

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Entrepreneurship in Maine

In preparing for a recent vacation in New England, my wife and I scheduled meetings with long-time friends in New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts.   Other than these waypoints with loosely scheduled dinner or overnight dates, we were free to explore.

New England was new territory for us, so of course we travelled with a growing inventory of paper maps – maps that helped us see the overall picture, easily plot out interesting routes, and underwrite our confidence and inclinations to improvise and explore.

In my imagination, the vacation has generated several categories of blog material: noteworthy museums, swimming “holes” I experienced, and bootstrapping entrepreneurs in Maine. Now back in San Francisco for less than a week and coming off a good vacation,  I feel somewhat deprived of business related intellectual nourishment. So this post and a couple more will discuss bootstrapping in Maine, leaving subjects with a less mercenary nature for later.

San Francisco is in the midst of an unprecedented period of wealth creation, venture capital investing, construction, and rising housing prices. (As the reader may be aware, this cycle has been in place for several years and shows no sign of slowing.)  A continuing influx of young, educated, ambitious people is both the cause and effect of hundreds of small startup enterprises with ambitions to be the next Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc., or to be acquired by one of the aforementioned.  (All are headquartered in the Bay Area and have numerous staff members working and/or living in San Francisco.).  Firms including those mentioned have been recipients of billions of dollars of venture capital, while such an achievement has become, in an of itself, a badge of honor for many entrepreneurs.

I’ll save for another day expressing  my thoughts & feelings on the mentality and wisdom of entrepreneurs seeking and raising venture capital with the logic of “I’ll take VC money IF I CAN GET IT.” For the time being I’ll just say I have serious doubts that it’s always the right thing to do.

Compared with the Bay Area and San Francisco, Maine is certainly a different animal. It has a relatively modest population which is pretty spread around. It has a history of harvesting from the land and sea, and continues to rely on the same.  Consistent with its New England location, it has a conservative outlook and traditions are highly valued.  It has limited educational offerings for hi-tech careers; the professional community is general purpose and doesn’t appear to have much depth in hi-tech verticals such as IP, IP litigation, VC investing, IPOs, etc.

Notwithstanding Maine’s modest resources for hi-tech business creation when compared with the Bay Area, Maine has many entrepreneurs. They are almost all boostrappers by necessity, often leveraging the unique attributes of their location, to build solid, profitable, growing businesses.

On holiday, we came in contact with many one-of-a kind, bootstrapped businesses, especially in Maine.  They may not go public anytime soon, but they provide a good living to many, and offer a location and lifestyle that has significant appeal.  I’ll briefly describe several in a future post(s).

One resource for bootstrappers:  Maine’s Institute for Family-Owned Businesses

Early September sunrise from Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park, Maine

Early September sunrise from Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park, Maine

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Sierra Nevada photos

Here are a few more photos of my recent, short visit to the mountains:

Sunrise in Tuolumne Meadows, 8/18/14

Sunrise in Tuolumne Meadows, 8/18/14

Moving right along, after exiting Yosemite, we begin the descent to to US 395 & Mono Lake.  This downhill of about 10 miles is one of my all-time favorite drives.

Just east of Yosemite's eastern entrance station on CA route 120, we see the road winding down toward Mono Lake.

Just east of Yosemite’s eastern entrance station on CA route 120, we see the road winding down toward Mono Lake.

After an instructive visit at the US Forest Service Visitors Center at Mono Lake (where I continue to be amazed and intrigued by the birdlife that passes through, and the lake’s flies, brine shrimp, salinity and history) I drove to the south shore for a tufa viewing.  It was a beautiful time of the day, an hour or so before sunset.

Exposed tufa towers at Mono Lake, CA

Exposed tufa towers at Mono Lake, CA

A little later, as I was heading to the town of June Lake and a campground, I was impressed by the vista & shadows:

View south near sunset 8/18/14 from Mono Lake's south shore access road

View south near sunset 8/18/14 from Mono Lake’s south shore access road

The next day I drove into Mammoth to explore that resort town, favorited by Southern Californians.  Not bad.

I continued on down 395 a few miles, drove up to Convict Lake for the first time, and was duly impressed.  An attractive lake only 2 miles of paved road from 395, the lake offers hiking, fishing, camping, and boating/kayaking.  It also has a very attractive commercial operation with cabins, restaurant, bar, store, etc.

A few more miles down 395 and I reached Toms Place, a wide spot in the road, and started the 9 mile drive up Rock Creek to the parking lot at the end, known as Mosquito Flat.  It being late in the season, I didn’t detect even one mosquito.

The path begins and after a few hundred yards, it’s up, up, up, although it was just a steady up, not extreme.  The views were good right away.

View south over the a portion of the Rock Creek drainage aka Little Lakes Valley

View south over the a portion of the Rock Creek drainage aka Little Lakes Valley

About halfway to Mono Pass the switchbacks began.  Not as challenging as they might have been, considering the somewhat southern Sierra location.

Typical scene on the switchback portion of the Mono Pass Trail

Typical scene on the switchback portion of the Mono Pass Trail


As you may have noted in the previous entry, I made it to Mono Pass, a nice place to be.  While there is lots to do on any mountain pass, I was on a timetable and turned around after a few minutes.

Looking southwest as the hike from Mono Pass down begins

Looking southwest as the hike from Mono Pass down begins

After returning to the trailhead, changing into my flip-flops, and beginning the drive out, I detoured briefly for a short swim in Rock Creek Lake.  Then it was time to hit the bricks.

In Bishop I couldn’t resist stopping at the wonderful Mountain Light Gallery which features the photography of the noted landscape photographer, Galen Rowell.

I continued south to Lone Pine, the jumping off town for Mount Whitney, the highest summit in the contiguous U.S.   There I saw a familiar name:

Important signage on US 395, Lone Pine, CA

Important signage on US 395, Lone Pine, CA

Continuing on as the sun set, I stopped & turned around to catch the sunset of that beautiful, memorable day:

Sunset 8/19/14 from US 395 with southern portion of Sierra Nevada range as backdrop

Sunset 8/19/14 from US 395 with southern portion of Sierra Nevada range as backdrop


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Some questions

This post is of a different style – instead of discussing some issue, I’m using this forum to outline briefly three subjects that touched me over the past week.  And, while each subject area merits a more in depth treatment, I’ve boiled down prospective discussions to simple questions.

College choice:

On a day hike last week with a high school junior in Yosemite’s Tuolumne Meadows, we discussed college choices and her criteria (colder climate, good English dept., caring community, etc.).  She wants to make the best choice but doesn’t yet have a structured

Easy to smile a lot when it's a beautiful day & you're in Yosemite's great Tuolumne Meadows.

Easy to smile a lot when it’s a beautiful day & you’re in Yosemite’s great Tuolumne Meadows.

approach to making that choice.  Is there one?  I wonder….In my own case, I remember being uncertain and also not having any particularly rational approach to picking a school.  The deciding factor was a childhood & high school teammate who was a freshman at Princeton and said “If you get into Princeton*, you’re crazy to go anywhere else.”  That sealed it.

*which I had by then


Question #1: Is there an accepted best practices approach for a high school student to select a college?

Place names:

Later in the day of that Yosemite hike, I continued by car east through the park to Mono Lake, a large subject of its own, and then headed south on US #395, an especially scenic drive.  The next day I took another day hike, this one from the Rock Creek trailhead (off

Author on the more southerly Mono Pass.  In the background is Summit Lake.

Author on the more southerly Mono Pass. In the background is Summit Lake.

U.S. 395 near Toms Place) into the John Muir Wilderness and up to Mono Pass, about 3miles in and 2000 ft. of elevation gain…However, there is another Mono Pass nearby – it’s on the eastern border of  Yosemite about 50 miles north.  They each have a “Summit Lake” and can be reached by the “Mono Pass Trail.”  Suffice it to say, two passes identically named and not too far apart can be confusing.

Question #2: How did it happen that there are two Sierra Nevada mountain passes named Mono Pass?




Unintended consequences:

Finally, in planning for an upcoming vacation in New England, I learned of a growing alternative energy company headquartered in Portland, Maine, Ocean Renewable Power Company.  In September, 2012, it began suppling ocean tide-originated power to the Maine power grid.  In May of this year it broke “ground” in Alaska for a river-based energy plant along the lines of the artist’s drawing below along with the press release.


RivGen® Power System by of Portland, Maine

RivGen® Power System
by of Portland, Maine

Question #3:  To what extent will the growing “renewable energy” niche of energy produced by moving water (rivers, tides, & waves) have adverse environmental effects?  (Same question applies to wind & solar energy deployments).  

Pointers to one or more well thought out a discussions of any of the above questions are welcome!


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San Francisco Bay Needs You (v2)*

*Those who know me realize how much I value the the Dolphin Swimming and Boating Club, its members and the cultural institution it is, and my frequent swims in San Francisco Bay. This post is an adaptation of an article published in the Spring, 1995 issue of the Dolphin Club’s magazine, The Log.  More on the Club and the Log are at this post’s end.


Delphinidae family members are attuned to their environment, and we human Dolphins are certainly no different. Our interactions with the waters of San Francisco Bay result in the familiar locker room talk of tides, water temperature, clarity, chop, flotsdam, etc.

Fundamentally, Bay water conditions depend on the ocean waters that come and go with the tides and the amount and quality of the freshwater flows from the streams and rivers that terminate in the Bay. Over the years, flows into the Bay have been significantly reduced in order to address the needs of agribusiness and other interests. Additionally, San Francisco Bay is continuously exposed to degradation by oil spills, runoff, illegal discharges, dredging, dumping, etc. Finally, development projects proximate to the Bay present additional hazards.

Simply stated, California’s growth and urbanization have impacted the Bay and remain a constant threat to the Bay and its health. For the Bay to have any chance of reasonable health, concerned citizens need to be involved. Dolphin Club members experience the Bay firsthand and appreciate that a healthy Bay is both a recreational and cultural resource.

Looking out to the beach & beyond from the Club's traditional weight room.

Looking out to the beach & beyond from the Club’s traditional weight room.

Since Dolphins place great value on a healthy Bay, it follows that Dolphins should be involved with or otherwise support efforts on behalf of the Bay !

A good forum for your involvement could be as a volunteer for a non-profit organization that targets Bay water quality issues. There are many that have efforts underway, ranging from national organizations like the Sierra Club to more narrowly focused efforts like the San Francisco BayKeeper. Beyond the objective of looking out for your swimming and boating experiences and our Club’s interests, there can be personal satisfaction from one’s involvement in community, environmental, or other charitable endeavors.

In the interest of encouraging your participation in the issues that may imperil San Francisco Bay, following is a table of selected local non-profit organizations. Your energy and skills would be greatly appreciated by any organization listed. And you will indeed feel better when you participate in the process of helping San Francisco Bay be healthy and hospitable to all forms of aquatic life !

Aquarium of the “… partners with The Bay Institute to protect, restore and inspire the conservation of San Francisco Bay and its watershed, from the Sierra to the sea.” “Since 1989, Baykeeper has advocated for the health of San Francisco Bay. We use science and clean water laws to improve habitats and communities reliant on a thriving Bay ecosystem.”
California Academy of “…is a world-class scientific and cultural institution based in San Francisco…recently opened a new facility in Golden Gate Park, a 400,000 square foot structure that houses an aquarium, a planetarium a natural history museum and a 4-story rainforest …(and is)home to the Academy’s staff of world-class scientists, an education department that provides a wide range of student and teacher services, and an extensive science library with nearly 46 million specimens and artifacts.Founded in 1853, the academy was the first scientific institution in the Western US.
Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education (COARE) “…is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Its purpose is to study our oceans and increase public awareness of the earth’s marine environment through educational programs and outreach….COARE seeks to enlighten people, young and old, to the plight of the oceans, to change the way they think and act, and to encourage them to create positive and lasting change. COARE helps people find meaningful ways to make a difference in their daily lives.”
Coral Reef “Working with people around the world—from fishermen to government leaders, divers to scientists, Californians to Fijians—the Coral Reef Alliance protects our most valuable and threatened ecosystem. We lead holistic conservation programs that improve coral reef health and resilience and are replicated across the globe.”
Farallones Marine Sanctuary the “non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary’s wildlife and habitats through the development of a diverse community of informed and active ocean stewards. We collaborate closely with the Sanctuary staff and coordinate and sponsor programming and initiatives that ensure the Sanctuary is protected. From education to research and volunteer programming, we work to build a concerned and aware public network to promote this goal.”
Institute for Fisheries  “Established in 1993 by the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), IFR is responsible for carrying out the fishery research and conservation needs of working fishing men and women. Initially, IFR helped fishermen in California and the Pacific Northwest address salmon protection and restoration issues, with particular focus on dam, water diversion, and forestry concerns. Since 1998, IFR’s range of programs has greatly expanded to encompass conservation projects and policy debates at the regional, national, and international levels.”
San Francisco Estuary  “Promoting scientific study in order to protect and enhance the bay.”
San Francisco Maritime National Park “For more than 60 years, (we have) worked to bring maritime history to life for visitors to the San Francisco Bay Area…the Association has played an integral role over the past four decades in the development of Victorian Park and Hyde Street Pier as historical sites…the area became a distinct National Historical Park in 1989.  Today, the Association supports San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park and independently operates the World War II submarine museum and memorial USS Pampanito.”
Save San Francisco Bay Association, “the largest regional organization working to protect, restore and celebrate San Francisco Bay since 1961.   Save The Bay engages more than 50,000 supporters, advocates, and volunteers…”
The Bay “the leader in protecting and restoring the entire watershed which drains into San Francisco Bay.  For nearly 30 years, we have been developing and leading model scientific research, education and advocacy programs to preserve this watershed…”

Note #1: The Dolphin Club is at 502 Jefferson in San Francisco.  It, along with its next door neighbor, the South End Rowing Club, are public membership clubs that offer their

Facts on the general public use of the club.  Click to expand & feel free to contact me with any questions.

Facts on the general public use of the club. Click to expand & feel free to contact me with any questions.

facilities to non members of the general public on alternating days (Tues-Sat) for a per diem fee of $10/person.  Each club has facilities (locker rooms, showers, saunas) that

enable one to easily access and enjoy the waters of San Francisco Bay.

Note #2: To access an archive of the Dolphin Club’s Log magazine from 1949 to present, click on


Club is located in Fisherman's Wharf.

Club is located in Fisherman’s Wharf.

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Rock & Roll Museum, Cleveland

Introductory note:

Beginning 4 decades ago, several University of Oregon grads, “Ducks,” have been highly valued friends.  Four of them, the totally awesome, mountain climbing “Sharks” have invited me to join them in the High Sierra for wonderful expeditions.  In the City, Susan partied with, married, and was the lifelong partner of a one of my Little League teammates.  And Sandy, who worked in the record distribution business for over a decade, is widely known as one whose love and knowledge of contemporary music (that is to say, rock & roll) is unsurpassed…When I was in Cleveland 10 days ago on the phone with him, raving about the Rock & Roll Museum and urging him to get it on his calendar, he asked for a full report…of which this post is the beginning.

Dear Sandy (aka Skeieman),

I’ve been to the Rock & Roll Museum & Hall of Fame at least 4 times since it opened in 1995 (including last year and this) and I’ve got to tell you, it has been getting better and better and is now truly outstanding. Given your close attachment to the subject and its personalities, I really encourage you to make visiting a high priority.

Early on the museum had a few iconic items, photos, costumes, and various ephemera. But the place felt dead and as a visitor I recall thinking “one and done.”

But I’ve gone back – now 19 years old, the place has really taken flight. Legends’ instruments, costumes, more and better personal property, historic song notes, etc. are all well displayed. Some exhibits are thematically around the artist, some are around a key city (SF, LA, Detroit, Memphis), some are by article, costumes for example.

Portion of San Francisco late 60's exhibit

Portion of San Francisco late 60’s exhibit

A real improvement from early on is the addition of much “high tech” equipment such as video monitors playing archival footage of the times and the artists and interactive jukeboxes for custom-tailored entertainment.

The Museum is more and more about R & R’s place in history, as a barometer as well as an influencer. This is adding depth to the stories told there.

Jimi Hendrix exhibit, portion, including guitars, costumes, couch from home.

Jimi Hendrix exhibit, portion, including guitars, costumes, couch from home.

Oregon Ducks drawing by Jimi Hendrix, 1958

Oregon Ducks drawing by Jimi Hendrix, 1958

I can only scratch the surface in this report. There is so much to tell, see, and hear.  For a start, the website at has a very large offering of content that you’ll enjoy.

Knowing you, I surmise you’ll like the museum so much, that you’ll be making another trip or two to Cleveland!

Your friend,



P.S. Here are some miscellaneous facts (you may already know) and FAQs on the museum:

It’s pretty much the brainchild of industry pillar, Ahmet Ertegun, who in the early 1980’s began talking with record industry types about recognizing important artists.   A non-profit was formed and the first Induction Ceremony was in NYC in 1986.   When word got out that the Foundation was planning a physical presence in NY, civic leaders in Cleveland began to make a pitch for the museum to be located in Cleveland, which in fact was selected in 1986. (This story of an entrepreneurial public-private partnership is quite well told at

Otis Redding exhibit and plane wing portion

Otis Redding exhibit and plane wing portion

Why Cleveland?
From “Cleveland’s claim on the Museum is born of both rock and roll history and a strong sense old civic pride. Besides being the place where Alan Freed popularized the term Rock and Roll with his pioneering radio show and groundbreaking early rock and roll concerts, Cleveland has served as a springboard to success for rock artists as diverse as Chuck Berry (who made his first public appearance here) to David Bowie (who made his U.S. debut here) to Elvis Presley (who played his first concert north of the Mason-Dixon line in Cleveland)…

When the idea for a Museum to house the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame first came about, Cleveland leaders were among the first and most enthusiastic in lobbying Hall of Fame officials to bring the Museum to Cleveland. The city overwhelmingly beat all rivals in a USA Today poll, earning more than 100,000 votes over its nearest rival.

In addition, 660,000 people signed petitions to bring the Museum to Cleveland. The city’s civic and business leaders worked together to provide the necessary financial support to make the Museum not only a reality, but also a stunning showcase for rock and roll’s history.”

Building facts:
Designed by I.M. Pei.
Completed 1995, opened to public on September 2nd.
150,000 square feet including 55,000 of exhibit space.

From “In designing this building,” says Pei, “it was my intention to echo the energy of rock and roll.  I have consciously used an architectural vocabulary that is bold and new, and I hope the building will become a dramatic landmark for the city of Cleveland and for fans of rock and roll around the world.”

Rock Hall on Cleveland's Lake Erie Waterfront

Rock Hall on Cleveland’s Lake Erie Waterfront

In 2012, in a nearby location, the Museum opened its Library and Archives, “the most comprehensive repository of materials relating to the history of rock and roll.  Its mission is to collect, preserve, and provide access to these resources for scholars, educators, students, journalists, and the general public in order to broaden awareness and understanding of rock and roll, its roots, and its impact on our society.”


q: Why is it important to study rock and roll?
 Rock and roll music is one the most pervasive – and accessible – art forms in Western Culture. In fact, when NASA launched the Voyager space shuttle in 1977, they included music from Chuck Berry on it in the event that intelligent life found the vessel. Like any art form, rock music reflects and defines our history and culture.

Rock and roll has been a key tool in giving a voice to people who have otherwise been pushed to the margins of our society. In the civil rights movements, in war protests, in ending communist rule in Eastern European countries, even in our elections, rock and roll music – and the musicians and fans that make it what it is – is truly a cultural force.

The Rock Hall is at the forefront of bringing popular culture into the classroom. Our educational programs and exhibits reach hundreds of thousands of students of all ages and teaches them how music has played a role in some of the most important social, cultural and political issues in modern history.

Through our educational programs, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is exploring how music has intersected with our culture, changed our political landscape and given a voice to those on the margins of mainstream society. This effort to bring pop culture into the academic world is crucial, as critical dialogues in our world are increasingly happening through—and with—modern music.

- See more at:

Exhibit of all Rolling Stone magazine covers.  Publisher Jann Wenner is Board Chair of the museum.

Exhibit of all Rolling Stone magazine covers. Publisher Jann Wenner is Board Chair of the museum.

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Maps #2

The first posting on paper maps (Maps, Paper) helped pique my interest in researching, at least a little, the paper map publishing industry.  As a map aficionado myself, I started by taking note of the publishers represented in my personal map inventory. There are at least two dozen of them, which I’ve listed in the following spreadsheet with comments, most gleaned from their websites.


I continued my research by searching for one or more complete as possible listings of English speaking paper map publishers. The best source for that that I could find was the International Map Industry Association (IMIA), with a membership list of approximately 370, most publishers.  (The association publishes some details on members but, unfortunately, the format is quite unwieldy, so I haven’t done anything with it yet).

The IMIA website helpfully has descriptions and links to 15 affiliated organizations.

If you need a map, large Internet retailers include,, and

When I began to think about writing this column, an op-ed piece in the New York Times  appeared propitiously and I learned of an excellent blog on maps,, which I heartily recommend for any map enthusiast.  There may be others.

Finally, I want to give some visibility to several of my favorite boutique publishers – to recognize them as examples of what is possible and also to introduce them to others who, perhaps, will send them some business so they can keep doing what they do so well!  Small, specialized publishers who have carved out a niche include:

Franko’s – appealing, highly informative maps.  Mostly recreational sites in California, Nevada, Hawaii, and the Caribbean.  Many are intended for divers or surfers.

Map Adventures – small selection of excellent maps of trails in New England and the Bay Area

MapEasy – especially the Guidemaps, not to scale but informative city and country maps with interesting sites noted & described.

Pease Press – small selection of undermapped Bay Area parks

Professor Pathfinder – detailed maps of college campuses & adjacent towns including Princeton & Stanford

Tom Harrison Maps – very well done maps, mainly of California parks and hiking areas, which include distances, topo information, etc.

While I’m not a paper map industry insider and privy to all its challenges, it’s clear the industry is still alive, notwithstanding the Internet.  It’s also apparent that the industry follows a pattern: entrepreneurs with a passion, talent, and hard work can start and build a decent business by following their star, just as those behind the above publishers are doing.

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