AUGUSTA — Greta Pinkham is sad that the Christmas Tree Shops in Augusta is closing.

The discount home goods chain with three stores in Maine — including one in the Turnpike Mall on Western Avenue — is shuttering all 70 of its locations after filing for bankruptcy protection.

The news of its closure follows similar news about Bed, Bath & Beyond, which sits next to the Christmas Tree Shops in the mall, and is also expected to close.

In May, Christmas Tree Shops company officials announced the company had filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to undergo financial restructuring, but last week, they changed course and announced the company would shut down and its merchandise would be liquidated.

Attempts to reach company officials on Wednesday about the closing schedule and liquidation plans were not successful.

For Pinkham, who bought two mason jars from Christmas Tree Shops on Wednesday, the news of the closure is disappointing. The retail outlet is convenient to her home in Manchester, and she said it’s a place she can find things she can’t get elsewhere.


The departures of these two stores will leave an estimated two-thirds of the main mall property vacant, but two new retailers, Hobby Lobby and Harbor Freight, are occupying the northern end of the mall in space that was vacated when Sears closed its stores.

Construction work continues Wednesday on the new Hobby Lobby store that will open next to Harbor Freight in the space once occupied by a Sears store in the Turnpike Mail in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“The bankruptcy and closing of the Christmas Tree Shops and Bed, Bath & Beyond have little to do with Augusta specifically,” Keith Luke, economic development director for the city of Augusta, said Wednesday. “One of the things we should guard against is the notion that there’s something intrinsically wrong with retail in central Maine or something specific to the city of Augusta that these things happen or keep happening. These are retailers that are going bankrupt on a national basis.”

Luke said these moves comes at a time when Eastern Retail Properties, the commercial real estate firm that is leasing the Turnpike Mall, had started to make headway in filling some of the space with Hobby Lobby and Harbor Freight, and the construction of ConvenientMD Urgent Care.

And even as these retailers are setting up shop in Augusta, Luke noted that another business in the mall, All Out Fitness, closed this year, after about a year in business.

Greta Pinkham of Manchester said Wednesday she’ll be sad when the Christmas Tree Shops close, because she can find things at the discount home goods store that she said she can’t find elsewhere. This isn’t the first retail closure at the Turnpike Mall she’s seen. About three decades ago, she worked as a cashier at McCrory’s, a discount department store that is now defunct. Jessica Lowell/Kennebec Journal

For Pinkham, though, the change is a continuation of a cycle of turnovers of retail stores at the mall that was built in the 1960s. About three decades ago, she worked as a cashier at the now defunct McCrory’s, a department store that occupied space in the middle of the mall.

“The elderly would come in and buy their underwear and would eat at the lunch counter,” she said. “It was like a family, you know? Everybody helped everybody.”


An interview request to Eastern Retail Properties was not immediately returned Wednesday.

For about 17 years of its history, the Christmas Tree Shops operated under the ownership of Bed, Bath & Beyond, until it was sold to a private company in November 2020 for an undisclosed amount of money.

The move was part of the struggling Bed, Bath & Beyond’s plans to find a path forward in its retail business. In addition to shedding the Christmas Tree Shops, it also announced plans in 2020 to close 200 of its own stores over the next two years and sold off other retail operations under its corporate umbrella, including Cost Plus World Markets and One King’s Lane.

Bed, Bath & Beyond filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April.

The Christmas Tree Shops and Bed Bath & Beyond stores, seen Wednesday at the Turnpike Mall in Augusta, will both be closing soon. The companies have both filed for bankruptcy protection and Christmas Tree Shops recently announced it would liquidate all of its stores. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Terry McGuire, who stopped by the Christmas Tree Shops on Monday, had noticed in recent months that there seemed to be less on the shelves to choose from. She said she stops by the Christmas Tree Shops routinely to see what’s new.

“I have college kids, and it’s great for their dorms. You can get curtains there, and blankets and towels and sheets,” McGuire said. “It’s stuff for their apartments that’s really great.”


She’ll be sad to see the chain and its good customer service leave.

“When you go in there, it’s not like you’re not looking for a high-end thing,” she said. “You’re going in to kill time, have some fun.”

While it’s not clear what new retail tenant might occupy that or other available space in the Turnpike Mall, it’s clear what will not be going in.

Luke said Hannaford Bros. Co., which operates a grocery store just across Whitten Road from the mall property, has a private agreement in place with the mall’s owners to not bring in competing food retailers.

“Hannaford has a restrictive covenant on the property that precludes any grocery store from going in,” Luke said.

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