Mung Bean celebrates 50 years!

Fri, 07/05/2024 - 9:30am

    Mung Bean is easily Maine's oldest exclusively American-made craft store as it celebrates 50 years!

    Sue Billings and Steve Madden, the sister and brother team, opened their craft shop in 1974 at the ages of 19 and 16 in the small Maine town of Coopers Mills. They named it Mung Bean after the tiny green beans they were sprouting for their vegetarian dishes. They had no retail experience, business training, or financial backing, yet proceeded with the idealistic optimism of youth and their Maine work ethic. And 50 years later, promoting the work of talented Maine and American craftspeople continues to be their primary goal.

    In 1977, they moved to 37 Townsend Ave. in downtown Boothbay Harbor. Having had the opportunity to purchase the building in 1994, they have enjoyed the freedom to expand the shop. And now Mung Bean encompasses the entire first floor. Just as the name Mung Bean is unusual and memorable, the shopping experience is unique and unforgettable. The shopper can meander leisurely through and explore several rooms and many delightful nooks and crannies.

    Sue and Steve proudly choose the merchandise for Mung Bean from over 300 American craftspeople with the criteria of good design and high quality. The extensive selection offered at the shop includes pottery, jewelry, wooden toys and games, hand-screened T-shirts, metalwork, woodenware and carvings, cards, and Maine preserves. The brightly colored wood magnetic name trains are the ideal gift for a young one as are the whimsical animal coin banks.

    Steve and Sue value the many relationships they have created and maintained through Mung Bean over the past 50 years. These include the friendships of many talented artisans, the “family” of wonderful and loyal employees, and of course the support of their local customers as well as of those who visit every year from away, all who have contributed mightily to the success of Mung Bean!

    Sue and Steve grew up in Jefferson. Sue lives in Nobleboro with her two cats, Harris and Raisin. Her daughter, Nancy, has just completed her first year as a doctoral student in American Studies at Yale University. Proud mom! Steve lives above Mung Bean and when not working spends as much time as possible at the family cottage in Jefferson and enjoys using his tractor on the property there where he intends to retire. Both feel incredibly fortunate to have found a career that is enjoyable and very rewarding.

    After 50 years, Steve and Sue see retirement in their future and they hope someone will want to continue with Mung Bean and its tradition of promoting American handcrafts!

    Mung Bean is at 37 Townsend Ave. in Boothbay Harbor and is open year round and seven days a week June through December. Call 207-633-5512 for the store's hours. Visit