Beloved new bakery in Medford, NJ told to cease and ‘de-moose’ their mural
MEDFORD — A popular new local business has been dealt an unexpected setback — its moose mural was flagged by township officials.
Maggie Moose Bakery & Gourmet Gift Boutique opened its doors in May, after more than a year of renovations and town approvals to the storefront at 185 Route 70.
Shop owner Candy Thibeau — who grew up in the area — said she wanted to bring nostalgia and a sense of fun back, following the height of the pandemic.
She said within the first couple of months, after receiving her permit for a patio space, the idea for an outdoor mural came naturally while sitting outside at the bakery’s tables.
Thibeau said she had seen a mural at another local business and approached the artists, who were happy to paint a “pink moose selfie wall” in July as a festive backdrop for the bakery.
The sprinkles and lime-green circle are not the issue — it’s the pink moose, which is part of the store’s logo and therefore considered a business sign.
As of Thursday, Thibeau said to New Jersey 101.5 that she’s considering her options, while realizing that attorney fees to fight for the moose and apply for a bulk variance could quickly become “astronomical.”
'Art, not ad'
The issue has directly impacted another local business — the artists who painted it.
Tabernacle Arts and Design is owned and operated by John Beaumont and Dylan Cooper.
According to Beaumont, the issue with the moose mural was “unfathomable,” since the artwork is not directly facing the highway (Route 70) and it has no text or advertisement.
“These laws were written for a reason and I understand that but i believe there is a line between art and advertisements,” he said in a written response to New Jersey 101.5.
“No small business should be threatened or fined for wanting to look different,” Beaumont continued. “With all the rundown strip malls up and down these highways you would think that the township would appreciate a pop of color and something new. It’s just sad.”
“It’s ultimately my goal not to put myself out of business for this fight so we will come up with something else within code that we will do should we have to cross that bridge,” Thibeau said in a Wednesday post on the bakery’s Facebook page.
“Right now, it’s overwhelming. These bylaws are put in place to protect the community but some are real head scratchers for sure.”
She said she’s still hoping to see what kind of compromise might be reached — without a waste of taxpayer money, as the community has been overwhelmingly supportive.
In the meantime, supporters have a chance to visit the shop for a “Cars, Coffee and Cops” event on Sunday with Medford Police, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
More than 200 classic or antique cars are expected to be on display, and there’s a new Maggie Moose shirt design being sold to build a legal fund if it comes to it, Thibeau said.
The Medford township administrator did not immediately responded to a request for comment on Thursday.