Bull Moose bets big on books with larger Lewiston Mall location

BY Renee Cordes

Courtesy / Bull Moose
Courtesy / Bull Moose
Rendering shows the space that Bull Moose this fall will move into at the Lewiston Mall — a location that will triple its size to 8,000 square feet, which will include a 2,000-square-foot book department. It expects to open the new location well before Thanksgiving.

Bull Moose, the Maine-based seller of movies, music, games and toys, sees a bright future in books.
This fall, the retail chain will open its eighth store with a large book section inside the Lewiston Mall, where it’s had a presence since June 1996.
Bull Moose, founded in 1989 in Brunswick by Brett Wickard during his junior year at Bowdoin College, employs more than 150 people and has 12 stores in Maine and coastal New Hampshire. Its current Lewiston store was its fourth to open.
The larger Lewiston Mall location, formerly occupied by Pet Life but vacant for some time, will triple Bull Moose’s space inside the shopping center to 8,000 square feet, with a quarter of that devoted to books.
“Every store we have opened since 2000 has included as many books as we could fit,” Chris Brown, Bull Moose’s chief financial officer, told Mainebiz.
While the privately owned company does not disclose financials, Brown said that book sales keep increasing, and that the plan is to introduce books to its four “non-book stores” as opportunities arise.
He added: “Increasing sales definitely is a goal, but we also feel a sense of responsibility to make sure more people have access to new books. Two of our locations are the only bookstore for miles.”
Bull Moose, which claims to have pricing and selection that's “unsurpassed,” carries a wide selection of heavily discounted books at its stores in Bangor, Brunswick, Scarborough, Portland and Waterville, as well as Keene and Salem, N.H.
Brown said that while Bull Moose could have made the Lewiston move sooner, it was “waiting for the right time.”
Bull Moose plans to stay open in its current space during construction, which it expects to wrap up well before Thanksgiving.

Asked if the retailer has any trepidation about competing with Amazon, Brown insisted that “we’re not scared of them,” pointing to both the success of independent bookstores and the resurgence of vinyl records in the last 10 years.
“We’re like those agile small mammals that survived the Jurassic Age,” he said.
The additional space in Lewiston will also allow Bull Moose to expand its selection of CDs and make a large investment in vinyl, it said in a news release.
Other planned improvements include more space for movies and video games and a larger selection of toys, collectible board games and gaming cards
The store also plans to extend its hours since it will have its own entryway door and so will no longer be bound by the mall’s opening and closing hours.
“If there’s a big release we like to open at midnight when people like to rush in,” Brown explained. “People want to get the video game immediately and stay up all night playing it. It will be nice to be able to do that in Lewiston.”
Bull Moose currently employs nine people in Lewiston and expects to add four more for the new store, Brown said.
He declined to say how much the new space will cost, but said the company had spent around $10,000 when it built out the original store in 1996.
Lewiston Mall, built in 1964, is owned by Redstone Investments from Youngstown, Ohio, and is leased by WRE Commercial Brokers.