Maine Public Radio – May 3, 2017
By Lisa Bartfai
Online shopping is hard to beat — price, selection, free shipping. That’s great for consumers, but very hard on local brick-and-mortar stores, and even on larger retail chains, who are closing their doors after years of operation. But some small retailers have found a way to not just survive but thrive in this new landscape.
It’s early morning at Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick, and the owners Beth Leonard and Gary Lawless are getting ready to open their 1,500-square-foot store, jam packed with books. Lawless says many customers are surprised to find an independent bookstore in a town of this size. …
“Interestingly enough in New England, one of the challenges doesn’t have anything to do with how well the bookstores are doing. It’s the external forces — real estate,” he says.
More than half of the independent shop owners surveyed by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in 2016 said that they were worried by the rising cost of local rents.