Belfast’s Army Navy Store prepares to close doors
BELFAST — When the staff of Belfast's Army Navy Store gathered in January, it learned that longtime owner Ron Mullen had accepted an offer from his brother, John Mullen, to purchase the commercial space, the reaction was mixed.
"I'm impressed we were given that much warning," said Gary Palmer, who has worked for the company for 14 years and serves as the current manager.
The store got its start in 1992 across the street from its current main street location, in the lower portion of what was then known as Darrell's Diner. Approximately 18 months later, Belfast Army Navy moved to its current 76 Main Street location, where it has maintained a loyal clientele for the last 20 years.
"I'm going to miss shopping here," said one shopper perusing the CDs, "I think the town will miss it too, because there's just such a variety."
It is the loyal clientele that makes the parting particularly bittersweet, for the store is not closing due to economic factors; rather, Mullen decided to retire.
His brother plans to establish a new store in the space.
Belfast Army Navy has long carried an eclectic mix of items difficult to find in other brick and mortar stores, will try to disperse some of its inventory to other local businesses, according to Palmer.
"Our paintball inventory is going to Trustworthy, for instance," he said, "and we're trying to find a home for our military inventory."
Customers will have until May 3 — the shop's official last day — to scoop up the varied goodies offered by the Army Navy Store, from music, games, paintball gear, to Boy and Girl Scout items.
As for what he'll miss most, Gary Palmer has a ready answer: "I'll miss interacting with all the customers. We've always had a steady customer base, and I'll miss them."
Erica Thoms can be reached at email@example.com