ROCKLAND—When Sherman’s Books & Stationary closed its Camden location in Spring 2020 as a casualty of the pandemic, Jeff Curtis, CEO and co-owner of Sherman's told PenBayPilot.com: “We were doing so well. That’s the frustrating thing.”
But Maine’s oldest bookstore—and one of the 10 oldest bookstores in the United States—wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
On Tuesday, July 13, without fanfare, Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop reemerged in the Midcoast with its newest Rockland location, on Maverick Street between McDonald’s and Hannaford.
Two other stores will open this summer as well at the Topsham Fair Mall between Reny’s and Lamey Wellehan, in the Windham Mall beside Reny’s.
“We went looking for an opportunity to open a new store and found three opportunities instead,” Curtis said, in a press release. “We couldn’t decide between them, so we decided to open all three.”
The newest Rockland location is twice the size of its Camden store.
“The newer locations have even more of a diverse array of items besides books,” he said. “We carry a lot of Maine-made gifts and we try to support Maine artists whenever we can.”
The store has a designated children’s section with comfortable, inviting furniture. It carries the latest titles in each section, along with a bookshelf and a retail display dedicated solely to Maine authors of fiction and nonfiction.
“The section in Rockland is pretty well represented with Maine authors that have traditional publishers, but we’re also proud to allow Maine self-published authors to put books in the store on consignment,” said Curtis. “It becomes an even more robust section when you have authors who have great books, but they just don’t have the major publisher to promote them.”
Looking back, Curtis regrets closing the Camden store.
“We closed the Camden store because we thought the world was ending,” he said. “We did not know how we were going to survive with all of our stores having to close and all of our employees laid off. We didn’t have a crystal ball at the time. As it turns out, people not only supported us but also all of the local stores so much during the pandemic that we shouldn’t have closed.”
He added, “We were really lucky to find this spot in Rockland as well as the other locations.”
Without a grand opening, Curtis said word of mouth has made it so business is booming.
“A funny story: When we were renovating the building and looked at the parking lot in Rockland, it was so big, we thought that there was no way we needed that many parking spots,” he said. “We’d need a food truck or something to fill it up, but since we’ve been opened, we’ve needed every single space out there.”
The total of stores when the other two stores open will bring Sherman’s Book Shops up to eight locations in the state.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org