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July 2, 2024

Maine 'hippie store' — now a hippie chain — will add another branch

Photo / Peter Van Allen Mexicali Blues operates a retail store in Portland's Old Port, on Commercial Street.

Mexicali Blues, which began in Portland 36 years ago as a self-described hippie store and has grown to a chain of five shops across Maine, appears to be adding a sixth.

The retailer will open a store in Kittery in the next couple of months, and is already staffing up, Mexicali Blues said in a social media post over the weekend. The location wasn't mentioned and further details were not immediately available.

"The moment you've all been waiting for ... we're opening up a new location!" the company posted. "We're thrilled to announce the opening of our new Mexicali Blues location in Kittery, ME, at the end of this summer!"

The company is hiring for a variety of positions at the store, including retail manager, and is offering incentives such as free clothes and a $1,000 sign-on bonus.

By Tuesday morning, the post had received nearly 1,000 likes.

Owners Peter and Kim Erskine launched Mexicali Blues in 1988, selling a mix of funky imported clothes, trendy tie-dye tees and Grateful Dead gear from a "tiny storefront" in Portland.

Since then, the company has moved to a new spot in the city, on Commercial Street; added a flagship shop in Newcastle, in 1996; and expanded with three other stores — in Bangor, Freeport and Raymond.

Mexicali Blues has also grown far beyond its original product mix, which now includes its own brand of eclectic, internationally inspired clothing, jewelry, home decor and gifts. 

Along the way, there have been side ventures. In 2015, for example, Mexicali Blues CEO Topher Mallory and business partner Matt Page launched Split Rock Distillery.

In 2022, the company announced plans to build a new warehouse in Newcastle to gain more storage space for orders, as well as automation and room to grow.

What a long, strange trip it's been.

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