Dickeys sell Camden Custom Embroidery

Plan to open seasonally as Maine Street Imprints
By Dwight Collins | Feb 26, 2014
Photo by: Dwight Collins Bill and Liana Dickey announced they sold Camden Custom Embroidery to Brio Marketing/J and B Printers in Rockland. The Dickeys plan to expand the apparel inventory and operate as a seasonal shop named 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 orders@briopromotions.com

Comments (10)
Posted by: Peter Rollins | Feb 28, 2014 09:53

Ad hominem arguments are always invalid.

Posted by: Jeff Sukeforth | Feb 28, 2014 08:22

My, My Peter Rollins, it amazes me how bitter you can continually be.  May I suggest if you feel so much disdain for Camden then please feel free to stay away.

Bill and Liana congrats, it's umbrella drinks from now on.


Posted by: deborah R Davis | Feb 27, 2014 16:40

Wow ! The Village Shop. I think I was 8 yrs. old the first  time I got to go into the store. The French Bulldog on the chain under the table was a show stopper for me. Old Bertha and Jess would let me touch him (but did keep a close eye on me). Then at 7 yrs. old I made my first appearance into French and Brawns. Bill was always so kind to me and would always take time to talk .and  always thanked me for my 10 cent purchase. It was great to be a young kid and be able to go downtown on your own and have all the shop keepers know you by name. Not only did they know who you were- but hey knew your parents and even your grandparents. Billy is right the town has changed and that feeling of "home" forever  gone.

Posted by: Peter Rollins | Feb 27, 2014 13:05

Right on, Francis. It is a very nice place to live but its a tough place to make a living.

Posted by: Peter Rollins | Feb 27, 2014 13:02

You people need to actually read the article before commenting. Bill is talking about continuous merchant time on Main Street not about business longevity. Camden has some real issues. The quaint town that once drew tourists has been changed by those who moved here because it was so quaint. The working waterfront is essentially gone. The mill has closed. The slow atrophy is hardly noticeable until it hurts. Towns like Belfast and Rockland are happy to pick up the business volume lost by Camden.

This is a smart move by Bill and Liana. It's a business decision like the closing of Haskell and Corthell. From what I've heard about the Thibodeaus this will work out for their customers as well.

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Feb 27, 2014 12:51

Part of the reason you don't know anybody anymore is because people came and bought property at inflated prices and drove the natives inland. One can blame the big box stores, however people have to cut corners to pay taxes to provide services for tourist and non-profits. I guess that's the cost of being a tourist trap.

Posted by: Susan Sinclair | Feb 27, 2014 10:08

Oh Peter, Peter go ride your tricycle. Camden is a lovely town trying to keep up with the times. What's new today will be tomorrow's old standby, and then eventually be replaced with something else.

Posted by: Peter Rollins | Feb 27, 2014 08:47

Camden is a zombie town. Its dead. It just doesn't know it yet. ô¿ô


Posted by: Todd Boynton | Feb 26, 2014 22:25

How about The Village Shop? Been there much longer. Mariner's?

Posted by: Martha Johnston-Nash | Feb 26, 2014 21:27

Congratulations, and best wishes on the transition.

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