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February 14, 2019

A look back: With Home Depot and Borders came a retail rebound

In the mid-1990s, Portland's downtown was losing retailers and few were filling the vacancies. Then along came the wave of big-box stores. First Borders opened a "superstore," 20,000-square-feet devoted to books and music, in November 1995. Then, as reported in the January 1996 issue of Mainebiz, Home Depot announced that it would open a store on Riverside Street in Portland.

"This is the first major retailer to come to Portland since losing the downtown stores, and a sign Portland can attract them … A player like Home Depot will bring others to Portland," said Mark Malone of Malone Commercial Brokers.

Home Depot is still there, at 245 Riverside St., and Mark Malone is still making real estate deals. Sadly, Borders, which went through ownership changes and a bookstore shakeout only partly brought on by Amazon, is no longer with us.

Fun fact: In January 1996, Mainebiz reported that North End Composites, a Rockland subsidiary of Sabre Yachts, completed major parts of a boat for singer Billy Joel. The 38-foot boat was said to "embody the lines of a commuter express boat, yet be able to reach speeds in excess of 45 knots." Hold onto your hat, Billy!

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