By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,403)
Good news travels fast in the Old Port of Portland, the major retail area in Portland. In the last few days, business owners have been buzzing about the fall arrival of Fat Face to the space formerly occupied by J. L. Coombs, at 34 Exchange Street. Fat Face sells upscale mens’ clothing. The property has been vacant since January of this year, leaving business owners in the area wondering when a business would come along and lease the property.
“I’m glad the store front is rented, because empty store fronts are bad for business,” said Rob Sevegny, owner of The Paper Patch across from the former shoe apparel store. “I’m always glad to see a new business come in. I hope they do well and stay,” said Sandy Jones, of Somethings Fishy, a neighbor at 32 Exchange Street. “We are lucky here to be surrounded by shops that will compliment us well,” said Drew Hill, owner of The Leather Exchange, of the fall planned expansion of Fat Face.
Now the story begins to take an unusual twist and gets good – really good. Browsing among the handsome leather wallets, handbags, belts, hats (see above photo) and more at Wall’s store was a couple – he, Jason, with an obvious English accent and she Tina with no accent. “I’m from Albany, New York” Tina cheerfully said. “Jason is from England,” she added. Perfect!
Indeed, Jason was very familiar with Fat Face and its far-flung empire overseas. “It’s like a franchise,” he said. “It started on the south coast of England – selling t-shirts and other informal mens’ clothing.
Here comes the romantic part – the part you’ve been waiting for. About a month ago Tina, an educator, traveled to London on a business trip. “I woke up in my hotel room and went down to the lobby. I saw him. I knew he was trouble,” said the forty-eight (48) year old Tina grinning so happily. The trip went well. Tina invited Jason to spend a week with her at her cottage on Popham Beach – here in Maine. The week went well.
The couple drank two bottles of wine yesterday and Jason, 49 asked Tina, 48, to marry him. She said yes – as long as he got down on one knee and bought her a ring today in Portland. This morning they drove from Popham Beach to the Old Port. The couple left The Leather Shop and walked to a nearby jewelry store – where the happy couple was last seen picking out an engagement ring.
There is a little more to this whirlwind courtship. Tina was driving Jason to the airport tonight so he can catch a flight back to England. There he will end his educational consulting business and say many goodbyes. Then he will fly back to Tina waiting for him in Albany to begin what Jason calls the third and best stage of his life.
“I haven’t even told my two children (18 and 19) or my mother yet,” Tina said. “That’s next.” Jason has a daughter and granddaughter in England.
Fat Face? What was that all about!