Back in the late 1980s, maybe say ’87 or so, we were trying to do a little better with our fledgling publishing business, CONNECTIONS. We had a small assortment of postcards, note cards and posters, and I think my first book “WINTER,” at that time.
The market wasn't quite so jammed with products then and we hoped to gain some visibility by participating in the “Maine Products Trade Show” which was held at what was then the Cumberland County Civic Center. We had a booth.
One day at the show in, I'm guessing, 1988, a young couple stopped at our booth and we struck up a conversation, as we were supposed to do with all prospective customers. My wife is better at that than I am. I try to hide, but Susan, bless her heart, relishes the opportunity to “chat 'em up” as she would say.
Turned out the young couple were considering opening a bookstore in Boothbay Harbor and wondering what we thought of the idea. We, of course, were over the moon, and, as it turned out, Jeff and Audrey Curtis were fond of the idea too. In 1989 they opened Sherman's Bookstore. They had no idea who Emma Stone Benner was.
I sort of knew her from her brief time at Pine Tree Variety which operated in the space that is now Sherman’s. But she didn't work there very long. However, when she was in high school, she worked at Sullivan's Department Store, which then became Dunton's Department Store, predecessors to Pine Tree Variety and now Sherman's.
Emma will have worked at Sherman's for 30 years in May and is pleased to say that she is grateful for year-round work. Our good fortune. Emma enjoys meeting new people and knows pretty much about everything at Sherman's. She beams a little when mentioning that customers call every year to order a calendar (hopefully ours!), books, dish towels and gifts. For so many, sharing memories of Maine, and Boothbay Harbor specifically, have great meaning. Emma helps them remember, and all the other workers at the Sherman store help too, when Emma is busy or taking a day off.
Emma Stone Benner helps this town tick. It’s what we who have lived here long enough have come to recognize as that special something that is the glue of this community. We appreciate knowing that others are willing to help and be helped. Emma is a good example of the gifts that we all appreciate.