PORTSMOUTH — Frequent shoppers at bull moose were notified of major news regarding the local record store recently.
A late-night email from the company had a catchy header: “We’re moving to a new house!”
“This new location will not only include plenty of free parking, but will allow us to add more things you love!” bull moose tell customers. “More space for Blu-rays, more vinyl and more books!”
The longtime management of the Congress Street store assures vinyl and CD enthusiasts that they need not worry about a much longer journey to Bull Moose. Yes, the downtown business is closing soon, but it will reopen at 1981 Woodbury Ave. in June, which will allow operations to expand and increase supplies tenfold.
“It’s like having a fresh start in a new atmosphere while still feeling like it’s the same old store just moved a bit,” said Portsmouth store manager Evelin Feliz.
Bull Moose was founded in Brunswick, Maine in 1989 by Brett Wickard, then a student at Bowdoin College. It arrived in downtown Portsmouth in 1996, becoming the fifth Bull Moose location in a chain that now includes 11 stores in Maine and New Hampshire.
Recognizable by its blue brick structure, Portsmouth town centre, Bull Moose, is packed with CDs, DVDs, video games, vinyl records and more.
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The Congress Street site is so packed with products that Feliz, who started running the store nearly two years ago, said moving customers inside the space can be difficult.
Feliz previously worked at the Bull Moose site in downtown Portland, Maine for four years before managing the Portsmouth branch. The Portland location closed in November 2020, with the company citing little foot traffic around the store and an expiring lease.
Thinking of downtown Portsmouth Bull Moose shoppers, Feliz said she expects some to feel the same grief many felt when the Portland location closed.
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“It’s easier for me to let go, and I want the best for my staff and our customers. And what I think is best is to start fresh,” she said. “I certainly don’t want to lose the soul or the vibe of the store.”
What to expect at Bull Moose’s new Portsmouth location
Bull Moose’s new home near Newington Malls is near the Dollar Tree. The storefront it will be located in was previously inhabited by a furniture store and a Spirit Halloween popup.
Bull Moose marketing and events employee Mick Pratt said the store’s new location in Portsmouth had a similar “cool, independent look” with high ceilings, exposed ductwork and industrial-style lighting.
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“When you have some kind of undeveloped box, you can really sit and watch and say, ‘How many square feet are we going to dedicate to books? How much vinyl will we have? “, She said.
Customer and employee parking and space for deliveries will be easier in the new location than downtown.
“It’s more accessible in every sense of the word,” Pratt said.
Bull Moose has announced that it will be looking to add hundreds of pounds to its stock on Woodbury Avenue. The company touted the expansion of its book collection as helping the business increase the number of independent booksellers, which also includes RiverRun, Book & Bar and Sheafe Street Books.
Bull Moose, managed by its employees, enters a new era
Bull Moose’s move within Portsmouth is the latest headline for the company. In January, Wickard announced the sale of the company to more than 140 employees through a shareholding plan.
Eligible employees were to be granted share ownership by ESOP Trust of Bull Moose, which owns 100% of Bull Moose after it acquired Wickard, the company announced earlier this year. Employee shareholders will be represented by a committee to which the Board of Directors will report. During the transition, Wickard was to remain acting CEO and chairman of the board.
The Portsmouth branch of Bull Moose was in the process of finding a new home before the business was sold, according to Pratt. The ownership group, she said, is still working to create the employee share ownership committee, which will soon be collecting nominations for an election.
“It’s the biggest momentum forward right now,” Pratt said of the new ownership group.
Pratt said the company hopes to be fully moved from Congress Street and into its new home by the first weekend in June, with the full team of 18 employees. The current Portsmouth Bull Moose location will not close until then.