LINCOLN, Maine — A discount, full-service clothing store chain that targets rural, under-served areas found an almost perfect location for its next outlet on West Broadway, one of its principals said Thursday.
A chain of 21 stores in New Hampshire, upstate New York and Vermont, Label Shopper was opening its Dover-Foxcroft storefront last spring and had opened stores in Jay, Oxford and Skowhegan last fall when its owner and managers visited sites in Millinocket and Presque Isle, among others.
Lincoln seemed a logical location for store No. 22, said Judy Piurowski, director of stores for Peter Harris Clothes and Label Shopper of Albany, N.Y.
“We wanted to be down by the [Hannaford] supermarket, but this one has really good frontage, so this one we chose,” Piurowski said Thursday of the former Lincoln Chevrolet lot. “Except for Walmart, there’s no place to shop [for clothing] there.
“We have been in Maine now just about a year. We love Maine,” she added. “We like to go into the smaller markets where there is not a lot of other competition. We offer a great-value product and what we find in Maine is that people will travel an hour to go shopping.”
The new, 5,000-square-foot store will open in early November. As many as 10 full- and part-time jobs will be created by the new store.
Renovations began last week, said Tom Ellis, owner and manager of Ellis Commercial Management of Bangor, which owns the West Broadway property. Ellis showed the chain’s owners his Lincoln and Presque Isle properties last spring.
The retailer will provide the Katahdin and Lincoln Lakes regions with something they have lacked for years — a large, stand-alone clothing retailer. Bangor and Old Town are the nearest larger retail centers.
Label Shopper carries bargain, name-brand juniors, men’s, women’s, plus-size and fashion clothing, and sells some shoes, according to its Web site, labelshopper.com. Many of its goods are overruns, items not sold at more upscale retailers.
Piurowski would not rule out her chain’s opening more stores in Maine, say Millinocket or Presque Isle, especially if the Lincoln store does well. Shipping costs are a major concern, she said.
“Lincoln is at our outer reach. We were talking about Millinocket but we don’t know if it’s too far up,” she said. “It’s a trucking issue, because from Albany to Lincoln is eight hours. That’s a long way.”
Set on a 4-acre lot, the West Broadway building will get a new facade, carpets, boiler, ceilings, insulation and storefront windows, Ellis said. He said he didn’t yet know how much the renovation would cost.
Ellis also will subdivide the 10,000-square-foot property.
“We are actively looking for other tenants to occupy the remainder of the building,” Ellis said, “and we would like to add on to the building in the future — not the immediate future but long term. We see Lincoln as a really good market for us, and in the long term, we really do see a lot of potential in it.”