Day 4: December 26, 2013
Christmas Plus One

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Yesterday's picture of a sign did indeed turn out to be a preview but there was some doubt. I reached Harrisville a little ahead of Berdine's normal 9:00 AM opening time. I made an unsuccessful search for an open restaurant then pulled up to the store a few minutes past the hour. It did not appear to be open but I went to the front door to see if there were signs of life or maybe a note that I had missed yesterday. There was neither. Then, as I turned to go back to the car, a friendly voice greeted me from across the street. This was store manager Karen Harper and I got to enter the store with her. She and the store were both terrific.

Berdine's Five & Dime has been in continuous operation since 1908. It has been in this building since 1915. Karen started working here when Fred Berdine still ran the place and she is the heart of the store today. The thoroughly modern website does a nice job of telling the store's history and its present, too. It proclaims the store not just a step back but "One Giant Leap Back In Time". It is certainly that, from the bulk candy to the windup toys to the classic cash register, but it is more. It is relevant. Its relevance to its community has certainly diminished but it has not vanished. Karen says that probably 80% of the store's business comes from tourists and visitors and is driven by nostalgia. That means 20% is not. Completely practical items like kitchen utensils, small tools & hardware, and yarn & sewing supplies are what account for this. Just before I left, a fellow came in looking for a particular size knitting needle. A discussion to determine exactly what was needed was in progress as I exited. I bet he found his needle and, like me, left happy.

'Twas the day after Christmas...

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