The Bangor Comic & Toy Con will open a permanent space in the Bangor Mall later this year. The convention was held for the first time in two years at the mall earlier this month. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The Bangor Comic & Toy Con will permanently take over two storefronts in the Bangor Mall later this year, after hosting its first convention in more than two years at the mall earlier this month.

The mall, which hosted the convention Oct. 1-3, will be the site of Bangor Comic & Toy Con’s new headquarters, in the storefronts that formerly housed clothing store Rue 21 and a US Cellular store. Those storefronts are located in the wing of the mall that formerly housed Sears.

Organizer and convention co-owner Will Hesketh said he plans to host vendor showcases, signings, food vendors, live podcasts, arts events and other programming in the two new spaces. While much of the programming will be geared toward the pop cultural theme that is the focus of the convention, organizers also plan to rent the spaces out to people who want to host their own events, like pop-up shops for independent vendors.

“We are also very excited, because it allows us to provide a local, cost effective option for our friends and patrons who may want to host events that they would like to do,” Hesketh said in a Facebook post.

Hesketh said that after the convention, he received positive feedback from a number of other stores in the mall, which said they saw a significant increase in business over the weekend of the convention.

“The mall has given us a ton of freedom and added perks after seeing what we did that weekend,” said Hesketh, who with co-organizer Jay Cochran took over the convention from the previous organizers in 2019. “We had a little pop-up snack shack that we are keeping on a trial basis because mall stores requested we keep it open. It’s become a nice little community there, and we all look out for each other.”

The main convention will in 2022 return to its normal time of year in April, again at the mall. The convention this year was held in October, after being rescheduled two other times from its original date in April 2020 due to the pandemic. Hesketh said they also plan to host a smaller, “halfway” convention in October 2022.

As the Bangor Mall has continually lost tenants — mostly national retailers — it has in more recent years pivoted toward entertainment and arts-centered tenants. Two theater companies, Ten Bucks Theatre Co. and Some Theatre Co., are now located in the mall. G-Force Adventures, a laser tag, bounce house and gaming center, will open in the coming months.

Just 22 national retailers remain in the mall, including anchor stores JC Penney and Dick’s Sporting Goods, of the property’s approximately 60 storefronts and kiosks, according to the Bangor Mall website.

Hesketh said the first event will be a holiday-themed pop-up, St. Nick’s Christmas Bazaar, set for the weekend of Dec. 11-12.

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.