Left Bank Books open for business at new Belfast location
Belfast — After spending eight years in Searsport, Left Bank Books has returned to the city where its owners began their first foray in selling literature.
Owners Barbara Klausmeyer, Lindsay McGuire and Marsha Kaplan met each other while Klausmeyer was working as the manager at The Fertile Mind and hired the other two part-time. Eventually, the three friends decided to open their own store, but were unable to find a location in Belfast, which precipitated opening the store in Searsport.
“We decided to open in Searsport because we didn’t want to compete with The Fertile Mind,” Klausmeyer said. “The decision to move back to Belfast was made over the course of the year because we realized we were outgrowing our space.”
When The Fertile Mind ceased operations in Belfast and with the more recent closure of Mr. Paperback, the three partners realized they needed to act sooner rather than later. McGuire said one of the more common complaints from customers was the tight quarters in their Searsport store.
“The bank building where we were was absolutely beautiful, but we heard from people that having to go to Searsport was too far. People also said they didn’t want to come into the store because they were afraid of knocking a display over,” McGuire said.
As the search for a new location began, Klausmeyer, McGuire and Kaplan knew they wanted to be in the downtown area to draw in more foot traffic. While searching, a space in the Opera House building opened and it fit the needs of Left Bank Books perfectly. Besides being about one-third larger than their former location, the new storefront also came with its own notable history, such as a speech given by Fredrick Douglass in 1868.
Left Bank Books made the move from Searsport on June 23, and the Belfast location opened June 29. Since opening, both Klausmeyer and McGuire said they have heard many comments from customers about how happy they are to see the store in Belfast.
“We know this is a town that had a lot of reading interest. Belfast is known as a place with wonderful restaurants, but we also want it to be known as a place with a lot of interest in literature,” Klausmeyer said.
As the owners get settled and make plans to continue their popular winter lyceum talks, there are a few ideas that the three would like to see come to fruition. One idea, proposed by McGuire, is to start a scholarship for a student who is planning to pursue an English or literature degree. The owners would also like to continue to network with other bookstores in town to make sure customers find exactly what they are looking for.
“If you come to Belfast looking for a book, you’ll find it,” McGuire said.
Left Bank Books is located at 109 Church St., and is open Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the summer. Well-mannered dogs are always welcome.
Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.