ROCKLAND—It’s never a bad thing to have another independent bookstore open in the Midcoast and Arctic Tern Books is the newest bookstore to cement Rockland’s reputation as a thriving cultural scene.
Owner Allison Worden opened the boutique bookstore in November after planning it for about a year. The space at 432 Main Street, formerly Hall’s Antiques, had been sitting empty for a few years. Once she saw its dark wood floors and soaring ceilings, she knew it was meant to be.
“I walked in and immediately saw it all,” she said. “I just fell in love with the space.”
Her entire career has been spent in academic publishing, mostly managing scientific journals and books, but once she moved to Maine, launching a bookstore (an idea she’d been kicking around for a long time) became a reality.
“Books were my very first love in life,” she said. “Growing up in a very remote, small town in Australia, they were how I explored the world.”
Worden’s aesthetic, both within the store itself and how she selects the books, can be described as intuitive, intimate, and nurturing. It all stems from a very personal experience she’d had caring for her sister.
“In 2013, my only sister was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer,” she said. “I become her primary caregiver, and as I walked that journey with her and saw so many people suffering, it opened my eyes to the incredible amount of pain that people are experiencing. During that time, whenever I would go into a place that felt peaceful and restorative it was such a gift. While I was caring for my sister, I knew I wanted to do that someday for people—just provide that space where peace and something close to hope was available.”
With the towering bookshelves on the left side of the room and a cozy, central sitting area anchored by a large coffee table draped with books, Arctic Tern Books is the kind of space that makes you feel like drinking a cup of tea while sitting back and reading for an afternoon. In fact, the store’s tagline is: “Step inside and let the world fade away.”
The store’s name, Arctic Tern, refers to the migratory bird that travels from pole to pole every year. It was chosen as a metaphor for exploration.
“I’ve curated this store with the underlying belief that bookstores are a place for discovery,” said Worden. “You’ll see a lot of books in here about and written by people from other cultures, as well as books that teach and heal. Books have the power to take people wherever they want to go—whether it’s somewhere back in time, or into someone else’s life, or on a personal journey.”
Her shop’s vibe both in-house and online is simultaneously welcoming and expansive. Some of the curated collections online include: Beautiful Gifts for Bibliophiles, Tenacious Spirits, Escape into Imaginary Worlds, Journeys of Spiritual Awakenings, and Healing from Traumas.
“Once we get past Covid, I’d like to host events for our community,” she said. “We have so much talent in the area that I look forward to championing our local authors, artists, and thinkers.”
To learn more visit her website: Arctic Tern Books
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org