The store is celebrating its 101st birthday this year, and if you visit you will immediately understand its longevity.
Where else will you find men's underwear hanging right beside a rubber chicken, and above delicate china figurines? (Maybe in the house of the lady who was our next door neighbor when I was growing up, come to think of it.) Or parts for kerosene lamps, old-remedy salves like Porter's Liniment, light-up, noisemaking bouncy balls, bulk candy in an original-to-the-store case, and a nose flute? The biggest mall in America could not offer up that variety, I would bet.
Larry wandered--and wondered--like a kid in a candy shop (that's more truth than cliche'), looking at toys, tools and just plain amazing stuff.
Need a cookie cutter? Rolling pin? egg beater? pencil eraser? handcrafted pen or glass vase? marbles? kaleidoscope? wind-up somersaulting gorilla? You can find them all at Berdines, along with quality candy and old-time treats like Necco wafers (even the chocolate ones!) and wax Nip bottles filled with sweet syrup.
Karen Harper, who runs the store, is a great saleslady. She never pushes or urges you to buy, she just shows you neat stuff like how the nose flute works, complete with a rendition of Yankee Doodle. Her own delight in her wares makes shopping a pleasure. We lost ourselves in Berdine's for well over an hour, and left a good bit lighter in the pocketbook and in spirit.
If you happen to be traveling US Route 50 between Clarksburg and Parkersburg, West Virginia, be sure to allow enough time for a little side trip to Berdine's. The store is worth a special trip in itself, and you can pretend that you're just shopping for the kids or the grandkids. Odds are you will find something that you really need for yourself! I mean, who would not want to be the proud owner of the amazing disappearing frog. It's still on my want list, but the pirate puppet came home with me.
Berdine's is currently collecting stories and memories about the store on its website. Go to www.berdinesdime store.com to participate, and check out the photos and store history. Better yet, make plans for a visit. It's not too early to do a little holiday shopping.