Owner Nanette Gionfriddo looks back on a career filled with love for books and food

Lincolnville’s Beyond The Sea bookshop and cafe to close after 12 years

Mon, 10/22/2018 - 4:45pm

    LINCOLNVILLE— Books and cooking have been Nanette Gionfriddo’s passion for the last 12 years, but after the combination of a particularly slow summer season for her bookshop, Beyond The Sea, and her landlord’s announcement that the building is for sale, Gionfriddo will be closing her shop for good by October 30.

    Gionfriddo got her start in Belfast with a small shop selling only gifts, gift books and espresso. One day, a friend asked her to carry some of his book titles.

    “I researched the quality of his books and they were fabulous,” she said. “Then I started to put my own recommendations on certain books. When those sold, the bookshop grew from there, as I started buying more new and secondhand books.”

    Gionfriddo’s niche has always been to champion lesser known Maine authors and smaller Maine publishers. 

    “Folks would come in and ask ‘Do you have Stephen King? Or the latest and greatest best seller?” she said. “And I’d say no, because you could find that on Amazon and I can’t compete with that.” 

    Instead, her formula has always been to research every single title that she brought into her bookshop.  If it garnered a high rating online, she’d often read and review each one.

    “Every book in our store was a ‘Staff Pick,” she said.

    Loads of books upon her bookshelves and spread along the tables would have Gionfriddo’s handwritten recommendations on Post-It Notes.

    “People would come in and tell me they didn’t know what to choose in these big bookstores such as Barnes & Noble because there were so many and it was so overwhelming, but that they could always find something they loved here.”

    Six years ago, she made the decision to move to Lincolnville Beach after losing her downtown Belfast space when the owners decided to open their own store.

    “I knew it was a challenge, because other local business owners told me that this location wouldn’t do the kind of business you see in Belfast or Camden,” she said. “It’s a beautiful location, but a tough spot for retail.”

    Add to that, the current owners of the building are retiring and want to sell the building.

    “It was a fast decision,” she said. “We decided in September and didn’t want to put the owners in the position of trying to sell the building in the middle of winter, so we decided to wind things down at the end of October.”

    Last year, Gionfriddo got a license to open a café with her signature “Grab And Go” Italian subs, chilis and soups, as well as baked goods, which drew an entire different clientele.

    “I succeeded to a certain degree, but not enough,” she said.

    However, she is not entirely done with the bookshop and cafe concept, and will be taking some time off with her husband to contemplate their next steps.

    “I am taking people’s information and emails at the counter, because when we land on our feet again, we want to be in touch with those who’ve been loyal to us,” she said.

    There is a 25 percent sale all merchandise in the store, except for the artwork and most of the furniture is for sale. For more info visit: beyondtheseamaine.com

    Related: Beyond The Sea Cafe

    Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com