BANGOR, Maine — Patrons soon will be able to shop around the world without the price of a plane ticket as Mexicali Blues employees are setting up shop at 1 West Market Square.
“We’ve had a few people wander in from off the street wanting to know what’s going on. We’re excited,” said store manager Julie Baker-Leaden.
The work has progressed from construction, painting and electrical work seven weeks ago to decorating and installing racks and displays Thursday. A “soft opening” of the store is slated for April 15 and a grand opening, built on some kind of event, will follow.
“For the last three weeks, they’ve been redoing the floor and cleaning the walls, with a little electrician work,” Baker-Leaden said. “This past week is when we’ve started receiving some of our merchandise, and we started unpacking things and putting some things on racks and hangers. Nothing’s set in stone as far as displays and stuff yet.”
This is the sixth — and northernmost — store for the Maine-based franchise owned by Maryland natives Pete and Kim Erskine.
Mexicali Blues’ merchandise and atmosphere will be similar in many respects to the former tenant, The Grasshopper Shop, but is anything but a carbon copy.
“They’re both nice boutiques, but our mix is a little bit different with imported goods from around the world and good price points,” Baker-Leaden said. “It’s not just clothing. We have jewelry, home decor, accessories, mirrors, incense.”
Mexicali Blues CEO Topher Mallory had a more succinct description.
“I would say we pack it full of goods just like the opulent marketplaces we buy from,” he said.
According to the Mexicali Blues website, a love of music and travel is what sparked the start of the business. The first store opened in Portland in 1988. The business’s name was taken from a Grateful Dead song, and while the store does offer a lot of “hippie clothing” and “hippie accessories,” that represents just one segment of the merchandise as well as the clientele.
“Our demographic for our clientele is really broad. It’s everyone from children straight through to retirees,” Mallory said. “We have conservative and we have wild and wacky.”
That diversity in merchandise and clientele also is evident with the store’s staff.
On Thursday, Mallory was one of several people helping out with merchandise unpacking and computer systems setup. He also assisted general merchandiser Steve Hawks in organizing the store.
“We all jump in to do whatever needs to be done, from computer systems to whatever,” he said. “We all wear a bunch of different hats.”
Store officials see its busy corner location as a plus and aren’t too concerned about parking.
“I think the parking locally is fine,” said Baker-Leaden. “The garage is a hop, skip and jump from us and the first two hours are free, so I don’t see that as a deterrent to people.”