Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum
Do you remember Newberry’s store on Penobscot Avenue? It was a favorite for everyone from youngsters to senior citizens at its two Millinocket locations. At first it was in the Miller’s/Our Katahdin building and then across the street where the grassy space is today (formerly Kimballs, First National, Mini Golf). The J. J. Newberry Co. was founded in 1901 in Pennsylvania as a “variety” store. Soon these stores appeared in many states as their 5 cents to $1.00 merchandise appealed to many.
The Millinocket Store opened in 1929 and remodeled twice by 1946 including an addition of about 30 feet to the rear of the store. In 1941, the Newberry company took over the space of the former First National Store. As it was wartime, they were unable to do much remodeling, but did add 300 feet of counter space and a lunch area. The plan was to do more modernization by removing a wall separating the two sections and by redoing the front of the store.
A 1946 The Millinocket Journal front page featured this store and the following is from that article. All types of merchandise were available and more was added as more stock became available (the war was over). “Special emphasis will be made to grade up quality and keep prices reasonable.”
A new ordering system was installed. “All efforts are being made to have a complete line of Christmas merchandise for customers. Toys will be in better assortment than ever before. Available will be steel trucks and cars, fire engines, electric and mechanical trains, drums, books, dolls, climbing tanks, and a complete line of doll furniture.” People were urged use “lay away” as the “demand is very big and the supply will hardly go around.” A 50 cent deposit would hold merchandise.
In 1946, the local Newberry’s employed 15 people with each being responsible for one or more merchandise departments. Mr. John Ferris was training under the G.I. Bill of rights. Miss Margaret DiCentes was window trimmer and merchandise girl. Miss Eunice Monaco was cashier and Miss Annie Berardicurti was in charge of the annex.
The article ends with “through the organization, an effort is being made to fill all reasonable requests for merchandise from the company. Within a short time, it is expected the new systems and policies will be apparent to you the customer in a more complete line of merchandise, reasonably priced.” The article doesn’t mention the basement area that is remembered by many former customers of this store.
Any calendars or other items advertising Newberry’s appreciated if any reader has any to donate to the museum? Newberry’s in Millinocket closed in the late 1980’s and within a few years all J.J. Newberry stores in the U.S. were just a memory!