By Erin Weaver
Local gem Title Page has been a staple to the Main Line community for 14 years. It recently lost over 20,000 volumes, however, when the main water line broke, flooding the bookstore. Seventy-eight-year-old owner Beverley Potter was determined to reopen the store despite the significant loss.
“There was about a foot of water in the store,” Potter says. “We lost all of the books on the bottom shelves. Even if it had been one inch of water, we would have lost the bottom shelf books. They lick up the water and swell, and we can’t save them.”
Potter hired a company to clean up the damage and renovate the store’s water line and floors. In total, the renovations and repairs took four months. The Title Page officially reopened on Nov. 19.
“We were upset that it took so long, but we’re happy to be open in time for the holidays,” Potter says.
Although she runs the store almost entirely by herself, Potter prefers to speak in the “royal we,” and cites her friends in the area as a major source of support during the renovations. Friends helped alphabetize and restock the shelves once everything had been repaired. Restocking the supply of books on the whole was not the biggest concern, as Potter keeps extra books in an off-site storage facility.
The irreplaceable losses were the rare books that Potter also carries. She knows that exactly 395 rare books were lost to water damage. The rare books take time to accumulate, as they cannot be ordered en masse like the other books. Potter slowly collects them, always on the lookout for a rare book to buy.
“I buy them from here and there, or people bring them in,” Potter says. “I’ll see them when I visit people’s houses.”
Selling and collecting books has always been Potter’s life. When asked why she decided to make the effort to repair and restock her store, Potter says, “I couldn’t imagine sitting at home. The four months of renovations were the longest of my life, since [the age of]16 [when I] wasn’t working.” However, she did decide to put the four months off to good use, she says.
“I got a hip replacement. It seemed like the right time. I wasn’t working anyway, so why not?”
Born in Saskatchewan, Canada, Potter was raised in southern Idaho and came to the Haverford area as a young woman. She attended Swarthmore College and loved the Delaware Valley area so much that she decided to stay. Before opening the Title Page 14 years ago, she worked in the Bryn Mawr bookstore on campus and helped run its annual book sale. After over 10 years of working for the bookstore, she decided she wanted to open her own store in Rosemont, and, thus, the Title Page, located at 1 Franklin Ave., was born.
The Title Page has a large support network of customers, including University students. Potter says she makes selling books that students read for their English, history and philosophy classes a priority.
“I love Villanova students, they make great customers,” Potter says. She has a beginning-of-the-year sale for students who need to buy books for the upcoming semester. Potter made opening again in time for the holidays and the new semester a priority.
“I hope to see everyone return to the Title Page, and I’m sorry I let everyone down by closing,” Potter says. As a 78-year-old woman who has dedicated her life to her love of books and fought through hard times to inspire the community, Potter is far from disappointing.