Longtime menswear retailer leaves a stylish legacy in Portland

David Hodgkins, founder of the upscale menswear store David Wood in Portland, has retired after 45 years. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Style came naturally and early to David Hodgkins, founder of David Wood Clothiers in Portland, who this month retired after launching the upscale menswear shop 45 years ago.

His mother was an interior designer and often brought him to fabric stores in New York City. That education in textiles got him interested in his own clothes. He remembers the day she brought home an assortment of new items for him to try on; he rejected them all. Then she handed him money.

“She said, get on the bus and buy what you want,” he said.

Decades later, Hodgkins has turned over similar decision-making at David Wood. Sara Hutchison Brown, who has worked with him since 2017, now owns and operates the business.

Hodgkins leaves a deep impact, both aesthetic and economic. As he developed relationships with brands all over the world – from a shoemaker in Massachusetts to an Irish maker of small-batch knitwear – the haberdashery helped make the Old Port a shopping destination.

His friends joke that his favorite thing about the business has been that he can buy his own clothes at wholesale prices. But Hodgkins said the people are what he will miss the most.

“What I like about the business most is the personal relationships that you develop with your customers and your business,” he said. “It’s a very social business on both sides.”

Hodgkins grew up in New Jersey, but his father was from a farm near Litchfield. The family visited every year, and Hodgkins knew he wanted to live in Maine. He attended the University of Maine “and married a Portland girl,” he said. He spent three years in the U.S. Army after

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Worker shortages put Maine plowing operations between a rock and a snowbank

A snowplow clears a stretch of Alfred Road in Kennebunk during the nor’easter on Friday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Maine is sure to get more snow in the coming months. It’s far from certain, however, whether there will be enough drivers to plow the state’s roads, driveways and parking lots.

Landscaping companies, which handle most residential and private-property plowing in the state, say it’s harder to find people to get behind the wheel of a plow truck. The Department of Transportation also hasn’t been able to hire enough workers to clear the 8,300 lane-miles of state roads and highways in Maine.

The department will step up advertising on social media this winter in an effort to add staff, department spokesman Paul Merrill said Monday. But the agency still worries about plowing for major storms.

Merrill said the department has about 400 trucks and 500 people for plowing in the winter. But that’s 20% below the planned staffing level. During the rest of the year, the workers’ tasks include road repair, striping and other maintenance. When snow flies, the workers fire up the familiar orange trucks and set out to clear roads most drivers are striving to avoid.

At 500 people, “we’re generally OK for most storms – we were fine for last weekend’s storm,” he said, referring to the nor’easter that most of Maine early Saturday. But the current workforce isn’t enough for a blizzard or a storm that drops snow over two or three days.

In those cases, “we may be in a situation where we have to move pieces around or the public might see service levels reduced,” Merrill said. The department might use workers who have truck licenses but don’t normally drive a plow on the job. That’s not preferred, he said, because putting them on the

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