Colby College and Oliver & Friends Bookshop announced that the popular and growing business will relocate to 150 Main St., Waterville. Located at the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons, Oliver & Friends Bookshop expects to open the doors of its new space to the public this spring.
The general-interest bookshop, which opened in Belgrade Lakes in 2020, will carry books for all ages and in the future hopes to host traditional author signings, book club meetings, and story time sessions. As part of the Main Street Commons, a residential facility that houses more than 200 Colby students, faculty, and staff, Oliver & Friends Bookshop will occupy approximately 950 square feet of the ground floor.
“While it was wonderful to start my business in Belgrade Lakes, it’s a very seasonal area and the next chapter for Oliver & Friends Bookshop requires more consistent business throughout the whole year so we can continue to grow and move forward,” said Renee Cunningham, owner and founder of Oliver & Friends Bookshop. “As I started to talk to people about where I might move my shop, Waterville kept coming up. Then I saw the emphasis on the arts and humanities in the city and it quickly became very clear to me that Waterville would be the new home for the bookstore. It really felt like the perfect location.”
She added that the spirit of the city’s business community was also important and that she felt instantly welcomed as a potential new business owner in Waterville. “What’s happening in Waterville with the revitalization is one of the main reasons I chose to move here. It was impossible not to get excited about what’s going on in the city, and we’re very much looking forward to being a part of and supporting this exciting momentum. Our goal is to create a really welcoming space where there’s something for every reader, encourage conversation, and bring the community together.”
A Vibrant and Growing Downtown
Oliver & Friends Bookshop joins a variety of new businesses that have recently opened in downtown Waterville. Highlights include Main Street Provisions, MetaMorph Jewelry Studio, Sunrise Bagel, The Robin’s Nest, and Gorham Bike & Ski. Additionally, Renys department store recently announced that it will be coming to Waterville, joining retailers like Old Navy that have expanded into the city.
“We’re extremely pleased to have Renee and her shop occupy the Main Street Commons,” commented Colby’s Vice President of Planning and Strategy Brian Clark. “It’s a great addition to downtown Waterville and another example of creating an ideal Main Street that’s evolved into a real destination due in large part to the wide range of dynamic small businesses located there.”
Continuing to build Main Street’s retail mix has been an important part of the downtown revitalization strategy developed by community partners. These businesses join other initiatives that are helping to reinvigorate the city, including the newly opened Paul J. Schupf Art Center, the Lockwood Hotel and its popular restaurant, Front & Main, arts collaborative Greene Block + Studios, and the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons.
There are also a number of new housing initiatives underway in the downtown area, including Head of Falls Village and the development of another portion of the former Lockwood Mills.“Waterville’s year-round activity and thriving economic trends make it an ideal location for Oliver & Friends Bookshop,” commented Garvan Donegan, director of planning, innovation, and economic development at the Central Maine Growth Council. “The new retail operation is poised to enrich the city’s cultural fabric, providing a hub for literary exploration and community engagement, and it aligns seamlessly with the city’s revitalization efforts.”