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Fort Fairfield's Oldest Business to Close its Doors

Goodhue's to Cease Business after 153 Years

By: David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, December 26, 2012

After 153 years of continuous operation, Goodhue’s will cease operation in Fort Fairfield. Barb Dionne, who was helping operate the store, said declining sales over the past decade helped force the decision to close.

Goodhue's was established in 1859, just one year after Fort Fairfield was incorporated as a town, and was located in “Puddledock” at the lower end of town near the Canadian border. The store was founded by Isaac Goodhue, who moved from Bangor to Fort Fairfield.

Goodhue was a gunsmith and silversmith. He sold guns, jewelry and produced iron fireplace implements as well. The business was passed on to his son, Arthur, around 1900. In addition to the jewelry store, Arthur was an optometrist and had his optometrist office in the store as well. When he took over the business, Arthur moved Goodhue’s Jewelry to a building across from the Plymouth Hotel (which is now the Northern House). He later built a building next to what is now the red brick Katahdin Trust Company building and moved his store and optometry office to that location (see picture top center, this page). It was there that he expanded the store to also feature grocery and bakery items

In 1920, Lawrence Goodhue entered the business with his father, Arthur. The wooden store burned in 1968 and Lawrence moved it to its present location on Main Street.

“After the store burned, I told dad to move it across the street and rent a space that’s available,” said Peter Goodhue, Lawrence’s son. “He told me he wasn’t sure about that. He said, ‘business has never been that good on that side of the street.’”

However, the store did get moved and with his assistant, Pat Welch, did well until Pat and her husband purchased the business in 1985.

Peter, now a retired OB/GYN of 50 years from Stamford Hospital in Connecticut, never took at active interest in the business. “It wasn’t my thing, I couldn’t make change,” he said in an interview with the Fort Fairfield Journal. “I did work in the back, packing boxes for a time, though.”

Peter went to medical school and joined the Air Force where he practiced as an OB/GYN at Dow Air Force Base in Bangor for two years before moving on to Connecticut. He retired at age 80 in January, 2010.

Pat Welch operated Goodhue’s until 2008 when she moved to an assistive living arrangement at Presque Isle Nursing Home. Welch maintained ownership of the business and was fortunate to have friends, Barb Dionne, Sue LeVasseur and Ardith Turner assist her in operating the store in her absence. Joan Duff kept her up to date with frequent visits with her at the nursing home. According to Dionne, the business hadn’t turned a profit for at least the past ten years. This presumably due to the shifting business environment with the big box stores in Presque Isle and now online internet businesses.

The decision to close the store was made in November of this year. Welch, who still retained ownership, but wasn’t actively involved in its day to day operation, died at the Presque Isle Nursing home after an extended illness on December 14.

Goodhue’s will remain open until the end of January, 2013 to finish selling the rest of its inventory and close its books.



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