Owl and Turtle changes hands
Camden — "This is really my dream business," Selena Sheaves said, standing among the books and shelves of merchandise at Owl and Turtle Bookshop on Bay View Street in Camden March 8.
Selena Sheaves and her husband Ricky purchased the bookstore a week prior.
"We were definitely not lifelong bookstore owners ... but we are now," Ricky Sheaves said.
The couple moved to Camden in November 2013 because they were able to sell their Massachusetts home more quickly than anticipated and their two teenage daughters were willing to switch schools part-way through the year.
"It was really about a life change, a career change," Ricky Sheaves said, adding the couple has long considered themselves gypsies — Ricky Sheaves is originally from Ohio and Selena Sheaves from California; the two met in Nashville. "Our focus is really about the independence. ... We are fiercely Indie."
Less than two years ago, Nancy Borland purchased Owl and Turtle Bookstore and moved it from Knox Mill back to Bay View Street.
"When I purchased Owl and Turtle 19 months ago, I felt I needed three years to make immediate and long-term changes before I could determine if it would indeed be viable in the long run. Well, I've only been able to go halfway, which is a great disappointment," Borland said in an email. "I love this little store and have tremendous respect for its almost 44 years of serving Camden and the Midcoast."
Borland said an abrupt change in her life in December 2013 caused her to be solely responsible for supporting her two children, a 25-year-old son with autism and a 19-year-old daughter in college.
"If not for my changed circumstances, I'd be continuing with love and enthusiasm toward my three-year goal," she said. " ... Yes, I have sold Owl and Turtle ... I am thrilled that [Selena and Ricky Sheaves] want to keep Owl and Turtle at our Bay View Street location. The move from Knox Mill back to Bay View Street nearly two years ago remains one of our proudest achievements. Bay View Street is meant to be home to Owl and Turtle."
While the location remains the same, the Sheaves have several interior renovations under way, including creation of a 10 to 12 seat coffee bar and cafe featuring locally-roasted coffee and baked goods.
Books will be moved around to different locations and the seating area moved to the first floor of the open two-story bookshop. Upstairs, where the marine section is currently housed, will become the children's section in the form of a tree house overlooking the store and aptly named "Owl's Tree house." Also upstairs, Ricky Sheaves said he plans to install a laptop ledge with stools for seating and offer free WiFi.
Changes to inventory are also planned with expansions of marine and young adult selections.
"We're expanding the inventory significantly," Ricky Sheaves said, adding a renewed focus will go into selecting books for the marine section. "That's a time-honored tradition that we want to uphold."
An explosion in interest of young readers looking for anime and manga will be reflected on the shelves as well, he said.
"The young adult section is really small," Selena Sheaves noted.
Also new will be a selection of hand-picked books by the Sheaves and employees of the store. Ricky Sheaves, previously a software engineer, said he hopes to not only feature books about engineering, carpentry and software but also to integrate some "maker-fair-style events" along with book signings and author events.
"I think Owl and Turtle will become part of the maker community here," he said.
Selena Sheaves noted that April, when they hope to host a soft opening of the renovated bookshop, is National Poetry Month. She said they are tentatively planning readings and also hope to become home to regular "storytelling slams," inviting anyone interested to tell stories.
In addition, an overhaul of the store website will offer updated inventory from a larger supplier as well as the ability to search in-stock inventory online. The Sheaves noted that previously issued gift cards will be honored as well.
Until the soft opening, winter hours are in effect to allow for completion of renovations to the space. Owl and Turtle is closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday through Sunday, the story is open from noon to 4 p.m. Visit owlandturtlebookshop.com for updates on renovations and hours.
Courier Publications Editor Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.