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This store was opened in 1963 by its first owners, Caroll and Ada Hickey from Eastport, as The Mad Injun. The store was to be a competitor to The Quoddy Wigwam in Perry, so its product line included moccasins and many other Indian and western items. The Hickeys placed many billboards up and down U.S. 1 advertising the store. Some humorously credit this advertising zeal as being one of the catalysts for Maine's anti-billboard law, although the beautification efforts of Lady Bird Johnson were the primary cause.
A night photo of The Mad Injun in the 1960s
Over time, members of the Passamaquoddy tribe living near Eastport became increasingly offended at the name and protested outside the store. Before 1970, the Hickeys changed the name of the store to The Puffin' Pig, in honor of a well- known sardine factory in Eastport. (In its heyday, Eastport had 18-20 sardine canning factories and with the nearby town of Lubec was the sardine capital of the world. Each of the factories had its own distinctive whistle and nickname. The Puffin' Pig was well-known in town; there was a song about it as well.)
The store was purchased in 1973 by Charles and Marilyn Corthell. They added police badges to the merchandise lines, expanded the store's association with the Passamaquoddy tribe, and displayed a collection of over 1,000 police patches. During this time, the Corthells also extended the building to house the Whiting Post Office, which is still located adjacent to the store. The name remained as The Puffin' Pig. (Mr. Corthell was a local deputy sheriff and sometimes told customers that he was the puffin pig.)
In 1993, the store changed hands again. Bob and Pat Mallar added greeting cards to the merchandise lines, and expanded the store's focus on local customers. They kept The Puffin' Pig name. In April 2000, the fourth and current owners purchased the store and changed its name to The Puffin Pines Country Gift Store, combining two well-known symbols of Maine -- puffins and pine trees. To assist visitors to the area, they also added a Visitor Information Booth that has brochures on local and regional attractions. They expanded the store's lines to include more puffin stuff and moose merchandise.
Every year, people come from over 40 of the 53 U.S. States and territories, half of the 13 Canadian Provinces, and from a half dozen or more other countries. Famous visitors to the store have included the conductor of the Boston Pops, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith, Maine comedian Tim Sample, David Letterman's sidekick Biff Henderson, and the Greenland Secretary of Fisheries.