Cassidy Gintz, accompanied by her dog Jace, stands in her shop in downtown Belfast. Gintz has been working over the past month to get the store ready for customers. Credit: Courtesy of Cassidy Gintz

A new bookshop coming to downtown Belfast this month specializes in all the romance novels a heart could desire.

Cassidy Gintz, 25, said it was always her plan to open a bookshop someday, but at the end of 2022 she was finally in a place where she could start to dig in and make it happen.

Gintz and her mother moved to Maine in 2019 from Florida to run the historic Captain Nickels Inn in Searsport. Now, Gintz is looking to tackle her first solo business venture with Grump & Sunshine Bookshop, which will open at 159 High Street in Belfast hopefully in late May.

The bookshop is named after a well-known romance trope where two characters who seem to be total opposites fall in love. The store will carry a variety of subgenres of the increasingly popular romance novels. Gintz said the COVID-19 pandemic impacted people’s reading habits and tastes, leading to a spike in romance novel sales.

“So many of us were stuck at home and alone and it was kind of a sad time,” Gintz said. “What’s better than disappearing into a book where everything works out in the end and you’re able to find your one true love?”

Cassidy Gintz sifts through a cardboard box full of romance novels. Her store Grump & Sunshine Bookshop opens later this month. Credit: Courtesy of Cassidy Gintz

Grump & Sunshine Bookshop joins four other bookstores in the city’s downtown area, and Gintz has been working over the last month to prepare to open. Gintz said she chose Belfast due to her connections and relationships with people in the area. Despite the number of bookshops nearby, she doesn’t feel she’s in direct competition with them due to her focus on the romance genre, which she said doesn’t feature prominently anywhere else downtown.

The shop will carry mainstream romance writers like Colleen Hoover to more obscure writers like paranormal romance novelist Opal Reyne, Gintz said. And there will also be books by Gintz’s favorite author, Mariana Zapata, who she calls her “break glass in case of emergency” writer for when she needs a book she knows she’ll like.

“I really tried to dig deep into smaller voices and authors that I love that you wouldn’t necessarily see in, say, a Barnes & Noble, authors that maybe don’t get featured quite as much,” Gintz said. “I’m definitely trying to focus on giving authors a brick-and-mortar platform that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

Gintz has been documenting Grump & Sunshine Bookshop’s opening preparations on TikTok as a way to connect with the app’s book-loving community and to build a cache of early videos she can look back on someday.

Grump & Sunshine Bookshop is set to open later this month featuring a variety of different romance novels.

Her most recent update shows her arriving at the store during Monday’s rain, accompanied by her labrador Jace. The video includes clips of her building furniture and snippets of the shop’s merchandise, including sweaters adorned with a tombstone surrounded by books that reads Death by TBR, referencing ever-expanding “to be read” piles, and pink mugs with the words “it’s not smut, it’s literature.”

Gintz is prepared for some blowback given the subject matter of the books she’ll be selling, and already has a sign to put on the front door asking people to keep their judgements outside.

“I’m gonna have a kink section, I’m gonna have a monster romance section, there’s gonna be books that could offend people, that’s fine,” Gintz said. “We all get to have our own preferences, our own beliefs, I definitely would never shame anyone for that, I just would prefer that they not shame anyone for what they do like.”

Braeden Waddell is a reporter covering Belfast and Waldo County. He grew up in Waldoboro and joined the Bangor Daily News in 2023 after working as an associate producer for National Public Radio. He graduated...