Julia Shea, at left, co-owner of the Mustard Seed Bookstore in Bath, in April will turn the operation over to Terri Schurz, who will reopen it as Mockingbird Book Shop. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

BATH — The Mustard Seed Bookstore opened in 2015 with the tagline, “Where Your Story Matters.”

“We thought that was cute at the time,” recalled co-owner Julie Shea. “But now we really realize, every single person has a story. … They sit down, they tell us their stories, they ask for advice in books for their children, their grandchildren. And it doesn’t take long to start developing a relationship with them.”

It’s those connections Shea will miss most when closing the shop April 15. But selling and discussing books will continue at the space at 74 Front St. under Terri Schurz. Schurz, a Mustard Seed employee, is buying the business and renaming it Mockingbird Bookshop.

Arrowsic author Wendy Ulmer has written three books at the Mustard Seed Bookstore. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

Shea was a reading specialist at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School in Brunswick before she and her husband Mike, along with friends Susan and Mark Shipsey, took over the space that had been occupied by the Intown Shop.

“This is my second career,” said Shea, who is 62. “So I’ve been working for a while, and my husband and I are ready to spend more time together.”

The Georgetown couple plans to tour the country in their camper.


Shea will miss what she called her kind and gracious customers.

“They’re local, and they want to support us,” she said. “For the most part, the local people are what keep the bookstore going.”

In the days when books can be bought at discount from websites like Amazon.com, that isn’t always an easy task.

“It’s very challenging,” Shea said. “We’re not naive to think that people are always going to buy their books here. … But I believe (Bath) for the most part has made the commitment to keep the downtown bricks and mortar stores.”

Amanda McDaniel, executive director of Main Street Bath, praised Mustard Seed as a “place to slow down, to have a cup of tea with friends and to keep up the wonderful tradition of buying, giving and reading books. In the age of Kindles, social media, and much-too-busy lives, having a local independent book store feels like a real treat.”

“A downtown needs a bookstore,” Shea said. “We wouldn’t have sold if we didn’t have Terri to sell to; we wouldn’t have just left it vacant.”


Shea approached Schurz, who’s been employed at the shop for about four years, about taking over the operation. Schurz will run the business alongside husband Jeff, a math teacher at Morse High School.

“I’m very excited, and my brain will never turn off, thinking about all the things that still need to be done and that we’re going to be doing,” Schurz said.

But she’s primarily looking forward to the new experience.

“It’s our next adventure,” said Schurz, who spent eight years working for Penguin and Random House publishers. “Maybe the things that I have been doing up until this point have led me to this perfect thing.”

The Bath woman turns 40 two days before Mockingbird is due to open. She had considered retaining the store’s name, given the loyalty the operation has garnered. “But we do really want to make this our own,” keeping the spirit of Shea/Shipsey operation and adding her own elements: quarterly tea gatherings, monthly storytimes, a book club, author appearances, handmade gifts like tote bags, bookmarks and socks for book enthusiasts, and – for non-tea lovers – coffee.

Schurz hopes to cater to more younger people, too, with a greater focus on “authors who are culture-changers, who are writing about critical conversations that people my age and younger can relate to,” she said.


Books, simply put, are what have made Terry MacGregor of Dresden a frequent customer since the store opened.

“To talk about books, and to buy books, and to peruse books,” she said. “I read the Audience section in the (Maine) Sunday (Telegram) paper and come running in as I did today.”

McGregor expressed mixed feelings on the transition. “I’ve developed a relationship with Susan and Julie, so it’s always sad when what you know is changing to something that you don’t know yet. But “Terri is great,” and she will “absolutely” continue shopping there, she added.

And Arrowsic author Wendy Ulmer plans to keep writing there, too. Two days a week she brings in her laptop, takes the same seat at the same table, surrounded by books that include her own, and works on her next creation. The final book in her “Journals of Anterg” youth fantasy trilogy, “The Sword,” comes out in May.

“I’m not sure these three books would exist” otherwise, she said. “The support, and the encouragement – ‘you can do this, keep at it’ – have been incredible.”

An open house will be held from noon to 3 p.m. April 15, and Mockingbird Bookshop is anticipated to open April 25.

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