Will our precious Maine Atlas & Gazetteer be no more? That familiar hard copy standby that’s in every car and truck in Maine, on coffee tables and shelves from Kittery to Aroostook. Never mind those atlases for a handful of other states.
Dunno. And no one is saying just yet.
Sure, we’ve got GPS units now on our dashboards and map apps on our smartphones. But nothing – nothing! – can replace the DeLorme Maine Atlas & Gazetteer.
Maybe the end of an era. Kinda sad.
DeLorme was sold recently to the big Swiss tech company Garmin, and now it seems everything is up in the air. Especially at the Map Store on US 1 in Yarmouth, which is closing. Jeez, the place was an institution. Maps, books, software, cool stuff, Eartha.
Cruising back from New Hampshire yesterday, I figured I’d better make a last stop in to pay my respects, given that the store is closing for good this Saturday, February 27. It’s not like I need an atlas or anything, but more just to see the place and the good folks I know that work there. Maybe score a bargain if something caught my eye (everything is 50% off).
There were a goodly number of cars in the lot, and a fair number inside the store milling about. One guy had a good load of Maine atlases under his arm plus some laminated maps.
“It’s a wonderful resource,” said Jim Smith of Yarmouth, referring to the Maine Atlas & Gazetteer. “It you’re going anywhere, there’s nothing that beats it.”
Amen to that Jim.
For travelers of all stripes, yeah it’s great to have a GPS unit, but there’s nothing like a paper copy. My wife and I recently installed a Garmin in our Subaru for a cross-country drive that took us to Texas and back. But we took a hard copy USA atlas as well, and referred to both all the time.
I can’t imagine not having my DeLorme in the car around here in Maine. And if they go away, well, there are gonna be a lot of well-thumbed copies floating around for a long time. We’ll keep them forever I swear. Till they fall apart and even then you’ll see people taping them together and preserving them however possible. You wait.
A source close to DeLorme that asked not to be identified told me that the reason the map store is closing is that Garmin does not want the store. The notice came suddenly, about two weeks ago. “Garmin is a Swiss company that has no idea that the map store is a Maine institution, that locals and people from away alike make this place a regular stop.”
Ain’t it the truth.
No one knows right now. But if the handfuls of atlases in people’s hands in the last week coming out of the store in Yarmouth are any indication, folks aren’t taking any chances.