PORTLAND, Maine — The newest Sherman’s Books and Stationery store — in Portland’s Old Port — has been open for two weeks.
On Saturday, Sherman’s rolled out the red carpet, hosting a grand opening party at the Maine-based independent bookseller’s newest location at 49 Exchange St. Warm temperatures and sunshine brought people into the city’s shopping district, filling the store with activity.
“It’s been steady all morning,” said Josh Christie, the store’s manager. “Things slowed a bit around lunch, and then it’s picked up again.”
Shoppers streamed into the store to check out specials and giveaways, and to enjoy a cup of coffee and treats, including doughnuts from The Holy Donut. More than that, customers said they were excited to have a bookstore back in the neighborhood.
Mac McKenna, who works at Ten Thousand Villages, ventured up Exchange Street on her lunch break for a cup of coffee and to browse Sherman’s selection of books and gifts.
“I like it,” she said. “It’s so accessible for me, and I don’t have to drive to a bookstore. I can run in at lunch or after work, now.”
Sherman’s opening on April 1 brought a bookstore back to the Old Port for the first time since Books, Etc. closed in 2009. The initial response has been gratifying, according to Sherman’s owner, Jeff Curtis.
“The response has been just great,” said Curtis. “The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, which is nice to see. I didn’t know how much people missed Books, Etc.”
Some of the visitors to the store had gotten wind of Sherman’s opening through the news media; others were strolling by and decided to pop in for a visit.
“It’s been really busy since we opened,” said Tori Curtis, Sherman’s chief buyer and merchandiser and Jeff’s daughter. “People have been flocking in and telling us they missed having a bookstore in the Old Port.”
Tori Curtis recently moved to Portland to handle the store’s set-up and opening. She’s been taken by the city and its response to the new store. Curtis, who went to school in Boston and worked there before moving back to Maine, is enjoying being in the state’s largest city.
“I don’t think we could have done this in Boston. Portland has a really strong ‘buy local’ culture, and we want to be part of that,” she said. “We plan to be supportive of Maine authors, and I’m committed to Maine-made goods and products.”
In addition to readings and other author events at the store, Sherman’s will be partnering with Rising Tide Brewery to host Books and Brews beginning this summer, she said.
“We’re really excited about some of the events we have planned,” said Tori Curtis. “We’re still figuring out exactly how we want to do our events, but I think Books and Brews should be fun and something a little different, highlighting books and Portland’s great beers.”
Mike Popovic took advantage of Saturday’s warm weather to ride his bike in from Westbrook. A self-described book lover, Popovic heard about Sherman’s opening and decided to check it out in person.
“I like visiting bookstores and checking out their selections,” said Popovic. “Sherman’s has a nice variety of books, both fiction and nonfiction.”
Sherman’s is Maine’s oldest bookstore, tracing its lineage back to 1886. The company is Maine’s largest book chain. They have other locations in Freeport, Boothbay Harbor, Camden and Bar Harbor.
Jim Baumer is a freelance writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.