Berdine’s Five and Dime a glimpse into the past
HARRISVILLE –Tucked into a side street in Harrisville is a portal in which visitors can transport themselves to a simpler time.
A time when everything a person needed was located within the confines of their local five and dime.
Since 1908, Berdine’s Five and Dime has been providing the people of Harrisville and visitors a glimpse into what commerce and life used to be like in small town America.
Karen Harper, manager at Berdine’s for over 30 years, said shopping at the oldest dime store in the country reminds people of their own experiences as children in their home towns.
“It brings back good memories,” she said. “We are a place where you can relax and take a step back from all the stress and hustle in today’s life.”
She said the store, which is home to thousands of products including from kerosene lamp parts, candy, vintage toys and household products, has only been owned by two families since its opening.
“It was first opened by Kit Berdine…then taken over by his son in the 1950s,” she said. “It was then purchased by Dean Six and his mother in 1981…he is the powerhouse behind it.”
She said Six tirelessly works to keep the store open so people can experience the true feeling of walking into a local five and dime in the early 20th century.
“When he purchased it, the store had been modernized,” she said. “He brought out all the old display cases from the back so the store could return to how it used to be.”
Jennie Parks, 45, of Parkersburg was taking a day trip to Harrisville and made sure to add a visit to Berdine’s on her to-do list.
“I’ve been here a couple times before. You see something new every time,” she said.
Robin Roush works at Berdine’s and said unlike other stores, they want people to interact with the merchandise before they buy.
“If it’s on the counter we want you to touch it, play with it,” she said. “We want people to feel at home.”
Mitzi Birkhimer and her friend Marcy Moran drove from Coshocton, Ohio, just to visit the store for the first time so they could revisit their youth.
“It brings back memories,” Birkhimer said. “I used to do a lot of shopping in five and dimes.”
Harper said Berdine’s is beginning to transition its merchandise to a different demographic as they try to appeal to a wider sample of the population.
“We are starting to get products that appeal to the memories of people in the 1970s,” she said. “That’s the generation that’s starting to move up.”
She said she was confident that the business practices used at Berdine’s will keep the five and dime open for another 100 years.
“We just have to keep doing the things we have done, and the people will come,” she said.