EMS to open store near Maine Mall in SoPo

It looks like Eastern Mountain Sports will be opening a new store in the Maine Mall area in South Portland, next to Toys R Us.

What this means for EMS’ Marginal Way store in downtown Portland remains unclear, but sources tell me that EMS plans to close that operation, which is in the same complex as Trader Joe’s.

That would make sense – I have a hard time envisioning a big enough market for two EMS stores in the greater Portland area, particularly given other robust competitors in the general area (L.L. Bean, Cabela’s, Kittery Trading Post, etc.)

EMS’ spokesperson has declined to chat with me about what the outdoor sporting goods store plans to do; she did tell me they planned to put out a press release in the next few weeks.

Banners don't lie, do they?

But when you put huge banners on a building announcing that EMS is making its new home there, the ol’ news cat is sort of out of the bag…

EMS was in the mall for a number of years before it moved downtown in the last decade, as the city worked to revitalize the whole Bayside neighborhood.

In 2010, Trader Joe’s moved into the space that had previously held a Wild Oats store. Whole Foods had bought the Wild Oats chain; the FTC forced Whole Foods to divest of some of its property, and Trader Joe’s bought that biz in Portland (among others, I believe…)

The popularity of Trader Joe’s has made parking difficult for all the businesses that surround (and rely on) that 135-space parking lot. Sources say that EMS had been looking for another location – before parking became an issue.

The space out at the mall certainly appears bigger, and in a much more commercial area. I believe it used to hold a Kids R or Babies R store a while back, and then an office supply store of some sort. Every Halloween, it houses one of those temporary costume stores.

The new EMS store is in the same center as Toys R Us

Competition in the area includes Dick’s Sporting Goods, which is almost directly across Maine Mall Road from where EMS is moving, and Cabela’s which is a few miles away in Scarborough. However, EMS, where I do tend to spend a few bucks regularly, is more of a specialty store, with an on-site bike shop and high-end climbing, kayaking, camping and backpacking lines.

Interestingly, Karen Rich of Cardente Real Estate spoke on the southern Maine retail estate market in January at annual Real Estate Forecast Conference. Rich mentioned a few real estate rumors at the time, and one of them was that EMS was opening a store in the mall area.

I guess she was right…