PORTLAND, Maine — A Portland bookstore that closed due to damage suffered in the weekend’s record-setting blizzard may reopen in time for a Valentine’s Day fundraiser for the controversial Russian band Pussy Riot, one of the shop’s co-owners said Monday.
Chris Bowe told the Bangor Daily News Monday that between 30 percent and 40 percent of his stock at Longfellow Books was destroyed in a chain reaction caused by the historic storm Saturday. Strong winds — gusts reached 70 mph along coastal Maine — blew in a second-story window above the Monument Square store, causing a pipe to freeze and burst, raining water down on the books below.
But Bowe, who spent part of Monday working with his insurance company to assess the damage, said he hopes to have the store reopen by Thursday night.
The shop is scheduled that night to host a benefit event for the Russian female punk band Pussy Riot, whose members were jailed after staging a political protest in a Moscow church. The event, slated to start at 7 p.m., will feature local readers sharing letters, lyrics and other writings from the influential band members.
Thursday is also Valentine’s Day.
“Valentine’s Day in bookstores is a big deal. We sell a lot of books, and cards and chocolates,” Bowe said.
Nearly 200 supporters posted words of encouragement on the Longfellow Books Facebook page after the store announced its indefinite closure Saturday.
“We definitely hated to hear [that] something happened to the place,” said Chris Bibeau, who was walking his dog along with Alisa Yescas by the store Monday and said the couple visits the shop frequently.
“The minute they open their doors again, we’ll be right back there,” he said. “This is a good store that deserves to stick around.”
Bowe said, “The support from the community is amazing.” He said he opened up his email Monday morning to find hundreds of emails from supporters, including community members, authors, publishers.
He said one publisher, Workman Publishing, indicated it wants to do something to thank the firefighters who responded to the scene Saturday.
“The firemen did an amazing job of covering the books and running the books to safety,” Bowe said.
“Water is a terrible thing for books,” he said, but added that it also works in mysterious ways. “Somehow water migrates from book to book, but in some cases there are books that weren’t touched,while the ones around them are soaking wet.”
Bowe said while the store is drying out, he and co-owner Stuart Gersen will have to assess the financial implications of the mess, including several days of unexpected closure.
“Cash flow is going to be an issue,” he said. “We still got to pay our employees and still pay our insurance.”