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January 23, 2015

VIP expands in Presque Isle, fills mall vacancy

Lewiston-based VIP Tires & Service is expanding its Presque Isle presence by moving into the Aroostook Centre Mall, filling a vacancy recently created when Sears left.

The auto service chain announced Thursday it will open the larger store on Feb. 1 where the mall's Sears Auto Center was located. Sears announced last fall that its retail and auto center at the mall would close by mid-January, resulting in the loss of 63 jobs. VIP restored five of those jobs when it hired the Sears Auto Center workers last November.

John Quirk, VIP's president and CEO, said in a prepared statement that the Sears Auto Center vacancy created an expansion opportunity for the company.

"As a Maine company, we recognized that we had the opportunity to play a role in building deeper economic stability in Aroostook County and to keep more people working," he said. "While big box stores are pulling out, we're investing in this market."

Quirk continued: "The new location doubles our auto service capacity, gives former Sears customers a seamless continuity of service and provides our VIP team members with a much larger facility and state-of-the-art new equipment with which to service our great customers in the Presque Isle market."

VIP said it has signed a 15-year lease for the mall, where it plans to occupy a more than 9,200-square-foot space. The new location will allow the store to double its tire capacity.

When VIP moves out of its 755 Main St. location, O'Reilly Auto Parts, which shares the building, will expand its store and business capacity, the company said.

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