Thursday, September 20, 2001

Small business tucked away in Cape Elizabeth

Published in the Current

Cape Elizabeth has a few storefront businesses, mainly found in the shopping plaza in the town center. But most of Cape’s businesses are less visible, though no less active, according to town business owners.

State law requires sole proprietorships and partnerships to register with the clerk’s office of the town in which they are based.

Corporations don’t need a town license, since their papers are on file with the state, according to Town Clerk Debra Lane.

Most of the businesses on file in the town office are service businesses, with a high concentration of design firms and financial consulting businesses. For those business owners, working from Cape Elizabeth is often as much of a lifestyle choice as anything else.

“In the graphics industry a lot of work can be done via the Internet,” said Kim McClellan of McClellan Graphic Services. She works out of her home, which enables her to adapt her schedule to her family.

“My hours are flexible,” she said. “It’s been really invaluable for me to work out of the house.”

Another home-based business is the Intelligent Design Enforcement Agency, run by Thomas and Candace Puckett. They are a writer and graphic-design team who lived in Washington, D.C., for years before moving to New England in search of a more laid back lifestyle.

“We live here for the beautiful scenery,” Thomas Puckett said.

With an office behind the house and one inside, the business isn’t exactly visible from the street.

“You would never know,” Puckett said.

High-speed Internet connectivity and reasonable shipping deadlines have enabled the Pucketts to work without much trouble.

Puckett called TimeWarner Cable’s RoadRunner Internet service “the spine of my business,” and said he has learned to work around the 4 p.m. FedEx deadline for overnight shipping.

Paulina Salvucci of Self Care Connection is also taking advantage of modern communications in her business. She is a personal coach for people coping with
chronic illness and those caring for them.

She sells her booklets and advertises her services on her business’s web site. It broadens her market base so that she can live in Maine and work with people all over the country.

“I love working at home,” Salvucci said. “It gives me a lot of freedom.”

She warned that there is a danger: “When you work at home, you can really overwork.”

She has set hours for the different tasks she needs to do, and has times of the day when she does things other than work. Even then, there are other challenges.

“You work in isolation unless you connect with other people,” Salvucci said.

She keeps in close touch with other professionals in her field, in Maine and elsewhere.

She loves living in Maine, and working in her Cape Elizabeth home office allows her to do that.

“I was one of those people who summered in Maine,” she said.

In 1979 she moved to Portland and eventually bought a house in the Cape. “I wanted someplace that was quiet and rural that was close to the city,” Salvucci said.

Businesses must file a form with the town clerk’s office and pay a one-time $10 fee, town clerk Lane said. When the business leaves town or dissolves, she said, the owner must notify the clerk. Home office businesses must also get a $50 permit from the town’s code enforcement officer.