Sherman’s Camden bookshop is casualty of industry slowdown

Wed, 03/25/2020 - 4:30pm

    CAMDEN — “We were doing so well. That’s the frustrating thing,” said Jeff Curtis, overall owner of Sherman's Books & Stationery.

    While all Sherman’s locations are shutting down for an estimated three months or longer due to COVID-19, the Camden location is closing permanently. 

    Wednesday, March 25, under State orders requiring non-essential businesses to shutter immediately, yet temporarily, employees of the Camden store quietly emptied shelves, took inventory, and worked to load up its entire supply after 16 years of business in Camden.

    According to Curtis, bookstores had a few hard years recently, but then an upswing allowed for business to do really well for last five years or so.

    “Every year got a little bit better,” he said. “Then all of a sudden [with a single clap of his hands] —big set back.” 

    It was a hard decision, according to Curtis, but a necessary one when the business realized it wouldn’t be able to pay the accumulated expenses for the duration of the Camden closure. Staff considered  implementing curbside service, but Sherman’s experience with that over the last week or so made clear that it wouldn’t pay for the person’s salary.

    The Camden store, though doing well, was Sherman’s least profitable location. 

    “It’s kind of like what the disease does,” he said. “It picks on the weakest.”

    With an estimated down time of at least three months, Curtis said Sherman’s can’t survive the wait and return the same company it was before. And since the more profitable stores aren’t expected to fare much better, Sherman’s isn’t in a place to require those more profitable stores to cover the costs of the less profitable.

    “And so, we just decided we better make a clean break,” he said.

    The Camden store employed a total of five employees during the spring, with four of them being regular full-time staff. One has been with Sherman’s for years and years and years, according to Curtis.

    “They were kind of shocked, unfortunately,” he said. “They got a little warning, but not much.”

    Along with the Camden site, Sherman’s has stores in Boothbay, Bar Harbor, Damariscotta, Freeport, and Portland. At three of those locations, Sherman’s owns the buildings. The other three locations, including Camden, are rentals. For Camden, working with the landlords wasn’t a problem. For the other rented locations, however, discussions are still in progress with the landlords.

    “That could be the great unknown going forward,” said Curtis.

    Since the sudden State-required shutdown doesn’t allow time for liquidation sales, most books will be returned to the publishers, according to Curtis. The cost of freight shipping will be expensive, but the returned books will allow for credits toward future purchases.

    Sherman’s also has a small warehouse in Boothbay Harbor where the non-book merchandise can be stored until the other stores reopen and the items can be distributed.

    The only consolation to the Camden shutdown is that there’s another great book store in town, he said.

    “Some of the towns, if we close, we would feel really bad because we believe in how important those bookstores are to the downtowns, and to the towns generally,” he said. 

    According to him, the public has been supportive regarding the sudden announcement, with great comments left on their Facebook page, as well as from pedestrians walking by as the Camden site empties.

    “Camden is a great town,” he said. “Maybe we’ll come back.”

    Sherman’s Facebook announcement

    With heavy hearts, we must announce the closing of all Sherman's Books & Stationery locations as of the close of the day on Tuesday, March 24th, 2020.

    We hope to be open again, perhaps in late spring/early summer. The Camden store will not reopen.

    We will be contacting all our customers that have placed special orders, so we can do our best to fill these orders.

    We will miss our loyal customers, friends - both 2 and 4-legged. We wish you all peace and good health and hope to see you all very soon.

    Your support has been amazing, it allows us to step away with very full hearts.

    Please reach out in the coming days by phone or email with any questions.


    Where on the Coast are We?

    Sherman's of Boothbay Harbor

    5 Commercial St.

    Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538

    (207) 633-7262

    Closed Temporarily

    In Normal Times Open Every Day

    Winter: 9:00 to 5:30

    Summer: 9:00 to 10:00


    Sherman's of Freeport

    128 Main St.

    Freeport, ME 04032

    (207) 869-9000

    Closed Temporarily

    In Normal Times Open Every Day

    Winter: 9 AM - 6 PM

    Mon - Sat 9 PM- 9 PM

    Sunday  9 AM - 6 PM

    Sherman's of Bar Harbor

    56 Main St.

    Bar Harbor, ME 04609

    (207) 288-3161

    Closed Temporarily

    In Normal Times Open Every Day

    Winter: 9:00 to 5:30

    Summer: 9:00 to 10:30

    Sherman's of Portland

    49 Exchange St.

    Portland, ME 04101

    (207) 773-4100

    Closed Temporarily

    In Normal Times Open Every Day

    Winter:  9:00 to 6:00

    Summer: 9:00 to 8:00

    Sherman's of Damariscotta

    158 Main St.

    Damariscotta, ME 04543

    (207) 563-3207

    Closed Temporarily

    In Normal Times Open Every Day

    Winter: Monday-Saturday 8:00 to 6:00

    Sunday 9:00 to 6:00

    Summer: Monday-Saturday 8:00 to 7:00

    Sunday 9:00 to 6:00