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November 25, 2020

Music and entertainment chain Bull Moose to close Portland store

Photo / William Hall Bull Moose will shutter its downtown Portland store by the end of the month.

Bull Moose, a chain of 12 music and entertainment retail stores across Maine and New Hampshire, will permanently close its Portland branch in the next few days.

“There's no way to sugar-coat it,” the company said in social media posts late Tuesday. “The downtown Portland Bull Moose will close at the end of November. Our lease is up and there is very little foot traffic downtown. All other Bull Moose locations will remain open.”

The Portland store, at 151 Middle St., is one of the oldest branches for Bull Moose, which was launched in 1989 as a Brunswick record shop by then-Bowdoin College student Brett Wickard.

Bull Moose Chief Financial Officer Chris Brown told Mainebiz Wednesday that all employees of the store have been offered jobs at other locations.

Over 31 years, the business has grown to employ more than 200 people at retail sites in nine Maine locations and three in New Hampshire. Bull Moose has also expanded into CDs, movie DVDs, books and video games, building an ardent customer base and a national reputation for advocacy of independent music stores.

In an interview last year with Mainebiz, Wickard touted the independence of each store in his chain.

“One thing we’ve believed from the beginning is that arts and entertainment is about community, and so each location is run separately,” he said.

He also explained the origin of the company’s name. “I always liked Bull Moose, the name of a track club at college, and originally named it Bull Moose Enterprises, because I thought the word enterprises sounded really big.”

File Photo / Jim Neuger
Brett Wickard, founder of Bull Moose, sold the company to employees through an ESOP.

Brown, the CFO, is also known for co-founding Record Store Day, a celebration of independent music businesses that falls on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

Now in its 12th year, Record Store Day is observed by merchants, recording artists, entertainment companies and fans worldwide. Among the ways it's being marked this Friday: the release of a new album by Fountains of Wayne, a Grammy-nominated band best known for its 2003 single, "Stacy's Mom."

While it’s ironic that the closing of the Portland store roughly coincides with Record Store Day, Bull Moose sounded an optimistic note in its social media posts.

“Downtown Portland will rebound and when it does we will look for a new location in Portland,” the company said. “Until then, the Mill Creek [South Portland] and Scarborough stores are only a few miles away.”

By Wednesday afternoon, the Bull Moose post on Facebook had received over 1,000 reactions and 200 comments. Most were similar to this one: "Oh, this is terrible news! Portland was always one of my favorites of the Bull Moose stores."

Photo / William Hall
The entrance to the Bull Moose store in Portland is guarded by an unusual barrier.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect information provided by Bull Moose.

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