Best Buy to close Topsham store in October

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TOPSHAM — After more than nine years in business, the Best Buy store on Topsham Fair Mall Road will close Oct. 29.

That is when the company’s lease with the CBRE The Boulos Co. expires, and several factors went into the decision not to renew, Best Buy spokesman Kevin Flanagan said in a telephone interview Tuesday from the corporate office in Richfield, Minnesota.

“That includes lease costs, changing customer shopping patterns, overall strength of a retail center, as well as sales,” Flanagan said. “It’s just a number of different factors, and you can’t really pinpoint the reasons for these decisions to one specific thing, like sales.”

He said he could not disclose how sales at the store have been, but added that closing a store is a decision Best Buy does not take lightly.

“We completely understand the situation, and how it affects our employees,” Flanagan said.

The Topsham store has about 40 full- and part-time employees, all of whom are being encouraged to apply for work at other Best Buy stores, Flanagan said. Those who choose not to remain with the company will receive severance packages, he added.

There are four other Best Buy store in Maine, in South Portland, Augusta, Auburn and Bangor. Last year, Best Buy closed 13 of its big-box stores and 17 of its smaller Best Buy Mobile stores in the United States, according to thestreet.com. It finished its fiscal year with 1,416 U.S. stores, down from a peak of about 1,500 in fiscal year 2013.

“We’re sorry to see them go,” John Shattuck, Topsham’s Economic and Community Development director, said Tuesday. “It’s an anchor of an important piece of the whole Topsham retail center.”

“This is kind of where retail is going,” Shattuck added, noting Best Buy reduced the size of the Topsham sales floor in recent years by moving up its back wall and increasing its stock area.

The business’ high-volume products, including cellular phones and audio equipment, remained in the store, “but the bulk of their product is available online,” Shattuck said. “… The business model has shifted so heavily towards Internet sales, even for stores that are running a bricks-and-mortar operation.”

“The whole trend across retail has been – at least for these larger, commodity type, or consumer goods – to have less units, and smaller units,” he added.

The loss of Best Buy follows recent news that Bed, Bath & Beyond will be moving from Topsham Fair Mall to Brunswick’s Merrymeeting Plaza in October.

“We lost them to competition on lease rates,” said Shattuck, who looked at the move philosophically.

“Maine’s not a super-dense state; I think of us more of a regional market than simply one town versus another town,” he said. “When you have a retailer that makes a move but stays local, that’s less of a blow than losing the retailer all together.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Best Buy will close its Topsham store at the end of October.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.