Blizzard destroys majority of Maine bookstore's stock

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February 13, 2013, 4:53 pm
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(NECN: Amy Sinclair, Portland, Maine) - One of the last independent bookstores in Portland, Maine, is getting an outpouring of support in recovering from heavy damage from the blizzard of 2013.

Thousands of the store's books got soaked during the storm, but writers and readers are coming together to bring Longfellow books back.

Longfellow's Bookstore in Portland, Maine, is planning a soft re-opening Thursday night following massive storm damage that occurred during the blizzard.

The shop is one of the city's last independent book stores and its comeback rivals any of the best stories sitting on the store's shelves.

Longfellow's was turned inside out last Saturday after pipes froze during the blizzard causing the sprinkler system to rain down on thousands of books and other merchandise

"You know, we lost our entire history, biography, and non-fiction sections; 40-, 50-, 60-percent of our stock is gone," said co-owner Chris Bowe. "I have to buy all that again without money coming in. Right now, I have no money to buy that."

But the staff discovered they're not going it alone.

While a chair still blocks the store's entrance, lovers of literature just can't stay away.

Local writer Duane Robert Pierson came in to see if he could help because he says it's his book store, too.

"We really count on this place. It's a center for literature in this part of the country," said Pierson.

In fact, as soon as the literary community heard Longfellow's was under water, the rescue was underway.

"I was inundated with Facebook messages saying, what are we gonna do? What are we gonna do?" recalls Josh Bodwell, Executive Director for the Maine Writers' and Publishers' Alliance.

They're now organizing a cash mob, planning a major literary event, and collecting donations to help the bookstore stay afloat.

And while readers can't buy their Valentines at Longfellow's this year, they can give one to the store by purchasing a "Great Flood of 2013 gift certificate" to put some quick cash back in the registers.

Bowe says he knew people liked the bookstore, he just didn't know how much.

"I thought they just used us because we were convenient. Now I know it's something more," he says.

It is, it turns out, a love story. One that was tested by hardship and one that will now have a happy ending, which is perfect for a store that's reopening on Valentine’s Day.

Tags: weather, Blizzard, Valentine's Day, Portland Maine, Amy Sinclair, books, sprinkler, longfellow's bookstore, chris bowe, duane robert pierson
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