Bull Moose growing to 3 times its size and staying in Lewiston Mall

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Bull Moose store manager Kayla Butler poses for a photo in the former Pet Life store at the Lewiston Mall, which is being renovated and turned into Bull Moose’s new location. The new store, three times as large, will feature a new book department in addition to music. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

LEWISTON — Bull Moose is moving down the hall at the Lewiston Mall, growing three times as large and adding books, more vinyl, CDs and games.

For old school devotees: The VHS and cassette tapes are moving, too.

An artist’s rendering of the new, expanded Bull Moose at the Lewiston Mall. Construction is expected to finish this fall. (Submitted photo)

Bull Moose will take over the former Pet Life space and the hallway in front of it for a new 8,000-square-foot store with a door opening directly to the outside.

Chris Brown, Bull Moose’s chief financial officer, helped open the Lewiston store at 20 East Ave. in 1996. Over the last several years, the chain has expanded many of its 12 stores in Maine and New Hampshire to add book departments.

The Lewiston Mall’s owner was making an investment in the property and the time was right for this expansion here, Brown said.

“It’s better access, longer hours and all the things that we’ve been wanting to do,”  Brown said. “(That location) has been in a growth mode lately. It’s a good time in the store’s history. You’ve seen other Bull Moose’s expand and a couple of them have moved; we really wanted to stay in Lewiston.”

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The expanded book section, 2,000 square feet of the new store, will have a mix of best sellers, cookbooks, graphic novels, young adult, sci-fi and fantasy.

Kayla Butler, store manager for the past year, moved down from the Waterville store, which had already expanded.

Butler said books are her favorite thing to add. “It brings a whole other group of customers in, which is really exciting.”

Stock will change based on trends in demand.

“I feel like we haven’t quite yet found our taste,” Butler said. “Give everybody the proper amount of everything and see where they go with it.”

The new store will also carry more toys, vinyl, CDs and Blu-rays in addition to more role-playing and tabletop games.

Even in the digital age, plenty of people are still picking up vinyl, CDs, and yes, even cassettes, she said. There’s something to be said for tangible.

“We have the face-to-face aspect,” Butler said. “People feel appreciated — they’re not just another email address, another shipping address.”

The store has nine employees. They hope to grow that to 13.

Brown said the Lewiston Mall location was chosen in 1996 over more-retail-concentrated Auburn because it was closer to downtown, near a school and they liked the community feel. People could ride their bikes to the store.

Expanding now and adding direct access outside will allow Bull Moose to increase its hours and make events like midnight sales easier, he said.

“I came back to Bull Moose five months before we built the Lewiston store, so I did a lot of planning for that, and we haven’t changed much since then,” Brown said. “It’s kind of like, ‘Oh, the orange walls, sad to see those go,’ but I’m also excited to see what it can become, and three times as big. It is exciting.”

He hopes to be in the new store before Thanksgiving and expects the old location to close for only a few hours as they restock the new.

On Tuesday, the area around Pet Life was roped off with caution tape inside the mall and large trash bins sat outside. City planning officials said the mall’s owner, Jonlee Lewiston LLC, planned to meet soon with the city about the project but had not yet pulled a permit for it.

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