PORTLAND, Maine — Portland-based retail entertainment chain Bull Moose said Tuesday that it plans to bid on the leases of several New England Borders stores.
Borders, the nation’s second-largest book seller, announced last week it was liquidating, and would be out of business for good this fall. Borders has three locations in Maine, in South Portland, Bangor and Brunswick and also operates a Waldenbooks in Auburn.
Bull Moose was founded in 1989 in Brunswick as a music store, and has expanded over the years to 10 locations in Maine and New Hampshire, selling music, DVDs, video games and other goods.
Bull Moose owner and founder Brett Wickard wouldn’t detail which Borders locations Bull Moose was interested in. According to the Borders liquidation brochure from DJM Realty, there are 20 Borders stores in New England.
“We’re bidding on a handful of the Borders leases, all within New England,” Wickard told the Bangor Daily News.
On Monday, Alabama-based Booksamillion announced it had dropped its efforts to secure the leases of 30 Borders stores, which had reportedly included the locations in Bangor and South Portland.
Wickard said he wouldn’t speculate on a time frame for when the court-approved bidding process may move forward. He said he saw the chance to bid on some of the locations as an exciting opportunity for Bull Moose.
“We added books to our Scarborough and Bangor locations and sales have been great,” said Wickard in a Tuesday release. “The physical book is far from dead. People just want to buy them for a price as low as they can find online. So, by bidding on some of Borders’ leases, we look to bring our 35 percent off books price model to larger locations to reach even more people.”
The chain added books to the Bangor and Scarborough stores last year, and are reporting double-digit year-over-year sales, said Wickard. In addition to the Bangor and Scarborough stores, Bull Moose has operations in Portland, Brunswick, Sanford, North Windham, Waterville, Lewiston, Portsmouth, N.H., and Salem, N.H., employing about 150 people.
Wickard said he thought Borders did a lot of things right, including creating meeting places in the communities.
“We want to keep those things they did right alive,” said Wickard. “A lot of those locations were great locations that people went to hang out.”
Asked if Bull Moose was concerned about overextending itself by growing too rapidly, Wickard said the company tends to grow in cycles, then sit back and wait.
“Being a private company, we really mind our p’s and q’s and we save for a rainy day — and we also save for opportunities,” said Wickard. “We keep our balance sheet really strong to afford us the opportunity us to take on reasonable risks.”