Nearly all of the products in my store have an interesting story behind them, and I’m always eager to share these details with customers. Favorite items of mine to talk about are the doormats  made from reclaimed fishing rope.
These colorful, brawny mats don’t need to be imprinted or embossed with a “Welcome” message to make the entrance to your home or business inviting. But there’s much more to these virtually indestructible, utilitarian mats . . .
It all started with the northern right whale. These large creatures were hunted and killed to near extinction by the whaling industry in the 1800s. Until recently, another threat to the northern right was the float-rope used by lobsterman to tether their underwater traps together. The whales would sometimes become entangled in the buoyant rope and eventually would die from being entrapped.
With a sharp decrease in the number of right whales, it became necessary to take actions to save this endangered species. In an effort to protect the whales, government regulation was enacted requiring lobstermen to replace their float-rope with a heavier rope that sinks to the ocean floor.
To help offset the cost of replacing the rope, the nonprofit Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation received federal funds to buy back the float-rope from the fishermen. This program made the marine environment safer for the diminishing population of northern right whales, and the lobstermen did not have to shoulder all of the financial burden of switching to sink-rope. But what were they going to do with the mountains of multicolored, heavy-duty cordage that was piling up at docks in harbors along Maine’s coastline?
A little ingenuity, resourcefulness, and frugality go a long way. What better material to use for making doormats than rope that can withstand the extreme conditions of the deep sea? With some clever handiwork, “The Right Mat ” was created (named in honor of the right whale).
In a few short years, thousands of these mats have been made in Maine, providing much needed employment for people with seasonal jobs on the coast. At the same time, tons of non-biodegradable material is being made into durable, useful products instead of being buried in landfills.
So, the next time that you wipe off the soles of your shoes before going inside a building, look down to see if it’s The Right Mat . If it is, you’ll know that it’s helping to do a lot more than just keep the dirt outside.
Founder and Proprietor, New England Everyday Goods & Farm Market , Jaffrey, NH.
Just a stone’s throw down the road from The Old Farmer’s Almanac headquarters, Jim and his wife Susan operate a sprawling retail store that specializes in useful and unusual products with interesting stories behind them.