Allison Krzanowski, co-owner of Quill Books and Beverage in 2018. John Ewing/Staff Photographer

Quill Books & Beverage in Westbrook is closing this month, a late victim of the pandemic, according to its owners.

The store, which sells both new and used books, has a large selection of queer literature. Opened at 1 Westbrook Common in 2018, it describes itself as “an active community space, an event venue, and an LGBTQIA safe space.”

Quill also offered always interesting food and drink, including wine and coffee; savory items like waffle breakfast sandwiches and sourdough focaccia with tomatoes, potatoes, and chives; and homey, modern cookies like ricotta lemon, salted chocolate chip, and miso snickerdoodles baked by co-owner Matthew Irving.

During the pandemic, Quill offered customers pickups and subscription boxes with food, drink, and books. Owners Irving and Allison Krzanowski, who had a baby last year, renovated and reopened Quill for limited hours just this past April. But they wrote on Instagram Wednesday that “The Westbrook we returned to after the pandemic is a different place and we have come to the realization that Quill in its current location is no longer viable.”

An image of a broken heart was superimposed over a photo of the bookstore.

In a telephone interview, Irving said that the combination of ongoing construction downtown and the lack of workers, especially those from MaineHealth’s Westbrook offices, doomed the business. Pre-pandemic, many people with jobs in town would stop in for coffee, snacks and lunch, often buying a book while there. But many employees who worked in Westbrook never returned to the office. (Irving added that he “100 percent” supported people’s desire to work from home.)


In the long-term, the city may continue to add housing and eventually return to a vibrant downtown, Irving said, but that won’t be fast enough to help a mom-and-pop business like his. Irving estimated Quill would need another 50 customers each day to remain profitable, and “There is nothing anyone can do to bring that many bodies back downtown that fast.”

“It’s been a real privilege to be able to meet and grow within the community,” he added. “And we are proud of what we were able to do in the time we were here. We hope this is one more pause and not shutting the door.”

For now, the couple is holding onto the store’s espresso machine and a few other key pieces of expensive-to-replace kitchen equipment on the chance they will open a business again one day. Meanwhile, Irving looks forward to spending time with his toddler daughter.

Quill will shut down later this month.

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