Dickeys sell Camden Custom EmbroideryPlan to open seasonally as Maine Street Imprints
Camden — A lot has changed in the 40-plus years Bill Dickey has worked or operated a business in Camden, and he and his wife Liana are excited about one of the latest shifts in the downtown landscape.
The Dickeys, owners of Camden Custom Embroidery, recently announced they have sold the embroidery part of the business and will re-open as Maine Street Imprints on a seasonal basis. The new shop, at the same location, will focus on local products.
The embroidery business was purchased by Jeff and Marli Thibodeau, owners of J and B Printers and Brio Marketing in Rockland. Their vision is to offer customers with full service promotional, silk-screening and embroidery under one roof.
“Jeff said he wanted to buy the business and after talking for him a bit, I knew he was the guy for it,” Bill Dickey said. “He is going to be a heavy hitter in the area because nobody is doing all of this kind of stuff in one place.”
Dickey added, "He is a smart guy who has had success in this kind of business in the past and he has a lot of experience so I knew pretty quickly it was a good match."
The Dickeys have built a business in 20 years with a lot of the same customers right from the beginning and wanted to be sure that whoever took over was going to treat customers the same as they were accustomed.
“I believe that Jeff will take care of them just as we had, like family,” Dickey said.
The loyal customer base the Dickeys have built over the years was one of the most appealing things about acquiring the embroidery business, according to the new owners.
“That was the biggest draw after speaking to Bill and Liana about how they felt about their customers and how it was not about the money, but about treating your customers like neighbors, with respect and making sure that they are happy with your service,” said Jeff Thibodeau. “That is the same way we think in our business, it is the relationships that feed us, and so our philosophy is very much the same.”
The decision to transition to a seasonal business was based on a number of factors, Dickey said.
“We are going to expand our retail T-shirt and apparel business and become a seasonal shop,” he said. “One of the reasons why is because we've got people moving here wanting to plant trees and install traffic islands and take 35 parking spaces away from the downtown – in a town with a parking problem. It’s going to look very pretty and my friends that come here for a week will think so too and the tourists will love it, but it is just going to cause other issues.”
Dickey said changes in peoples' shopping habits also were a factor.
“I have been on Main Street for over 40 years working through high school and college and have been on it everyday since high school,” he said. “The big box stores and the Internet killed Main Street.”
The Dickey family owned a clothing store for generations just a few store fronts up from Camden Embroidery and Dickey remembers what it was like during final years of its operation.
“The year that we closed Haskell and Corthell, Renys up the street was selling Woolwich Chamois shirts $3 over my cost and we just couldn’t compete, they were able to do it as a loss leader, so we had to diversify because we just couldn’t compete,” he said.
He added, “People say they would like to have a place in town to be able to buy your socks and underwear, shirts, pajamas and so forth, but why would they buy it here in town when they can go to a big box and by eight pairs for the same price I can sell three.”
Dickey noted that now, a majority of business owners in town are strangers to him.
“I don’t know anybody in town anymore,” he said. “I know a few by name, but not like back in the day when we all knew each other and worked together to make this a great place to grow up and run a shop.”
Dickey believes there are only three people operating a business on Main Street that have been around as long, or longer, than he has.
“Meg at the Smiling Cow and Arthur Kirklain are the only others I can think of still down here on Main Street,” he said. “Paul (Prescott) at the Village Restaurant was the longest continuous until he sold to Cappy’s. Eddie (Read) went away for a spell but is back, but for sure, not many of us left.”
The Lord Camden Inn, Eric’s Barber Shop and the Jones Brothers Barber Shop are three others that can be added to the dwindling list of long-time businesses in Camden that are directly impacted by changes downtown.
Dickey said he and Liana plan to be accessible during the transition and are in full support of the new owners going forward.
“It’s been fun and we are excited to start something different,” Dickey said. “I would encourage our customers to make the transition to Brio to continue to get great service.”
Brio Marketing/J and B Printers is located at 19 Merrill Drive in the Rockland Industrial Park and can be reached at 506-6989 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Dwight Collins is a reporter/photographer for The Camden Herald.
(207) 236-8511 ext. 303