While the Bangor Mall may be better known these days for the emptiness of its parking lots than for the vibrancy of its shopping experience, an unassuming event last weekend briefly turned it back into a bustling retail scene.
A craft fair that was held in the mall’s corridors and empty stores Saturday and Sunday drew an estimated 22,000 people. The parking lots were so packed that some visitors had to leave their cars on the other side of Stillwater Avenue, and some nearby businesses also reported a bump in customers.
“I’d say our Saturday was a mini-Black Friday,” said Shawn Cahill, manager of the nearby Lamey Wellehan shoe store on Bangor Mall Boulevard, which saw its sales grow more than 10 percent over last year’s Veterans’ Day weekend. “I haven’t personally seen the mall that packed that early in the morning in maybe 10 years.”
It was a welcome blip for businesses near the mall, however brief, and the event’s organizer, Kathy Harvey, is already preparing to hold another craft fair next year, possibly spread over two weekends.
With its ability to draw so many people to a mall that has struggled to maintain its customer volume as stores inside have shut their doors, the event and the experience it offered could also point to a path forward for the mall as it considers how to attract new tenants and shoppers.