A Treasure Trove Appealing to People of All Ages
You could say that Laura McCullough met her destiny when, in 2019, she purchased Dannah, a creative and stylish boutique in downtown Kennebunkport. Laura, 33, is a fifth-generation business owner. Her grandfather, and two generations of her family before him, owned a department store called Starbucks, which for decades was a fixture in downtown Saratoga Springs, New York. Her mother, Diane Carr, for many years owned Poofberry’s, a popular toy store in Kennebunk’s lower village. “That’s where I started my retail experience, working for her, when I was 12 or 13,” said Laura.
She enjoyed working at the toy store, and she was also drawn to another store, Dannah. She began working at the boutique right out of high school, continuing to work there off and on for 14 years, until she purchased the store from Dana Schoettner. “I’ve always loved retail. I especially love this store and all the beautiful things here. And Dana was the best—she was so fun to work with,” said Laura.
Laura had switched directions for a time and had gone to massage therapy school, but she missed working in retail. “I’ve always loved interacting with customers and helping people find the perfect thing,” she said.
So, Laura was working in retail management in Florida when Dana approached her about buying Dannah. Laura thought it over for a while and realized it was an opportunity that she couldn’t pass up. She moved back to Maine and took over the reins in April 2019.
Laura has stayed true to the foundation that Dana built, while giving the store a younger touch. Dannah is located at 123 Ocean Avenue, Kennebunkport, with a welcoming outdoor display of flowering plants and whimsical lawn décor. Visitors also get a stunning view of the Kennebunk River.
Inside, Dannah is a treasure trove of gorgeous items, showcased in artful displays throughout the store. Luxurious skin-care items, soft socks in fun styles, soaps made in France, stunning jewelry, unique and lovely home goods, and hand-poured candles are just some of the items that a visitor encounters. There’s also a wide range of scarves to add a dash of color to your wardrobe.
“People go crazy for our scarves, and we have all different styles of hats,” said Laura. “We also have the best selection of greeting cards around.”
After having many customers ask, half-jokingly, where the men’s section was, Laura added a men’s corner to the shop. She soon realized there was an untapped market for men’s boutique items, and she opened up a second store dedicated just to men’s items.
Dannah for Men opened on July 31, 2020, just down the street at 127 Ocean Ave. No longer do husbands and boyfriends have to sit outside while their partners shop at Dannah. They have a store of their own. Dannah for Men has a more spacious layout then its sister store. The store carries rugged and sophisticated apparel, distinct bandanas, high quality belts, wallets, socks, and other accessories. Visitors to the store also find hair and body care products, bar ware, manly home décor, outdoor guides, and other books.
Despite the pandemic, business has been good. Laura has adapted by offering curbside pickup, shipping items, and making deliveries. And thanks to the help of her mother, Diane, the store has increased its online presence.
The stores have a family dimension that make it a team effort. Diane does all the social media for both stores. She also works many hours at the men’s store and does a lot of work behind the scenes. Laura’s brother, David McCullough, built many of the displays and did the majority of the interior work to transform the former gallery to her vision of Dannah for Men. He also works three to four days a week in the men’s store.
“It’s rare to go in the men’s shop and not see one of the three of us working, and sometimes you get all three of us at once,” said Laura.
It appears that when Laura moved back to Maine, she came home in more ways than one. “I’ve been in retail more than half my life. I don’t see that ending anytime soon,” said Laura. “I love it, I really love it. I can’t imagine not doing it.”
When speaking of Dannah, she said with affection, “You can’t come in for just one visit—you need to come multiple times to see everything. You need time to look at everything. You can’t just pop in. We appeal to people of all ages.”
“There’s something for everyone,” she said, or often, with luck, more than one thing.
Check out Dannah online at https://www.dannahkennebunkport.com.