In 2004, Victoria Erker opened Front Porch Books, a gently-used secondhand bookstore, in her home on Pine Street in Orono. Over the years, she’s seen students, faculty and community members alike come to fill the void that only a book can satisfy. She’s had a full 12 years of business and this coming Saturday, Nov. 20, Erker will close the doors to Front Porch Books for the very last time.
When describing what made her want to open a used book store, Erker replied “Oh, a lifelong passion for books.”
Erker moved the original Front Porch Books from her house to the book shop space, which currently resides above her garage, in 2007. In addition to the shop in her garage, Erker has supplied some of her books to sell in bookcases at both the Bangor and Orono locations of Verve as well as the Maine Yarn and Fiber Supply in Bangor.
“What can I tell you? I mean, I’ve been read to and been reading voraciously as long as I can remember,” Erker said. “And I worked as a reference librarian before opening the book shop, so my life has always been, personally and professionally, involved with books.”
Part of the mystique surrounding Front Porch Books is its hours; the company business card that doubles as a bookmark states that Front Porch Books is open “by appointment or by chance.”
For Erker, this did not mean that she refrained from wanting to hire employees to maintain steady and consistent business hours.
“It was always designed to be a flexible, part-time venture,” Erker explained.
Erker has resided in Orono for 31 years; she’s a University of Maine alumna from the class of 1978. Erker is originally from Philadelphia.
“I love Orono, it’s my home,” Erker said. “It was a great joy to run a small business here, it was a great joy to get to know my customers…[it’s] always wonderful getting to know them, helping them pick out books that are right for them that are gonna [sic] make them happy. So I’ve thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it.”
The decision to close Front Porch Books comes at the right time for Erker; her husband, David, is retiring in March and she wants to have the same flexibility.
“It’s been a great run, we’ve had a fabulous time running the bookshop and now it’s time to go on to the next adventure,” Erker said.
The next adventure? Erker wants to pursue her creative interests, like weaving and book binding. Her son lives in Central America and she wants to have the freedom to visit him more often.
Her husband is interested in home renovation; he plans to take on the house across the street, as well as transform the current book space into an apartment sometime in the next few years.
“I’ve certainly had students [visit the shop] and enjoyed them. I have been delighted over the years to see how many of the students are still reading the classics, particularly in print form. It’s delighted me. And poetry,” Erker said. “I have loved every minute of it.”
Front Porch Books has already had two closing sales, each on the previous two Saturdays this month. The final closing sale will occur this coming Saturday, Nov. 19 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m and all books will be half-priced.
Front Porch Books is located at 67 Pine St. in Orono. For more information about the closing book sale, please call (207) 866-3889.