After 39-year run, couple seeks to sell Paperdilly in Lee

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LEE — After successfully riding out four decades of a roller-coaster economy, and surviving a near-crippling car-pedestrian accident, Doug Wilcox is eager to retire and vacate the thriving downtown business district.

Wilcox and co-owner Sally Wilcox are making a bid to sell Paperdilly and its building at 74 Main St., next to the Salmon Run Fish House. MacCaro Real Estate lists the office/art supply and custom framing business for $59,000.

To spark interest, the husband and wife had posted their own "for sale" signs on the front of the building. The couple say it's time to market the commercial property if they are to retire, hoping that the new owner will continue what they started 39 years ago.

"I think it would be wise to consider keeping here what they feel is viable to sell," Doug said. "There's been real interest in the store."

Paperdilly is the most established of the three downtown commercial entities MacCaro recently has listed. The realty firm also has two eateries on the market: New England Wraps is going for $59,000, and the owner of Prado's Cafe is asking $79,000.

All three owners are confident of finding buyers, and they will remain open until they do so.

"Whoever takes over, we want them to be successful. We know what it's like trying to get a business off the ground," Wilcox said.

Whether downtown or beyond, small-business storefronts don't stay vacant for very long in Lee, according to local business leaders.

The number of food, lodging and specialty businesses in the gateway community has increased by 30 percent since 2007, according to the most recent U.S. Census data.

Lee's strong retail is supported by a growing tourist trade and well-established or relatively new manufacturing, construction and service industry businesses.

Onyx Specialty Papers, Boyd Technologies, Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing, High Lawn Farm (dairy products), LB Corp. and numerous carpenters, plumbers and electricians are among the employers maintaining a healthy tax base in town.

Through the years

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Doug and Sally Wilcox opened Paperdilly on April 25, 1981, replacing the former Lee Newsroom. Traditional office supplies of legal-size yellow notepads, markers, pens, pencils and desk calendars still were all the rage before computers and hand-held electronic devices became the staple of business owners and their staffs.

Wilcox said Paperdilly remains relevant and has adapted to continually fulfill a need in town.

In 2000, Wilcox offered custom framing, which has become a big part of his business, he said.

Wilcox said the business, from wedding and graduation photos to fabric art and three-dimensional items, frames most everything.

"You need to understand the customers' needs and solve their problems," he said.

Doug Wilcox nearly retired 11 years early, after a car-pedestrian accident kept him out of work for months.

On the night of Dec. 20, 2008, Wilcox was in the Main Street crosswalk fronting Salmon Run Fish House when he was struck by a car and seriously hurt. Several surgeries and months of rehabilitation later, Wilcox returned to work for just a few hours each day.

Doug and Sally split their time at the store; he opens in the morning and she works in the afternoon, until closing time.

Doug says he will have enough to do at home when he retires: tend to his fruit trees and honey-making bees, enjoy his grandchildren and continue to pace himself as he has for many years.

"My attitude is one of a thousand-mile journey beginning with one step," he said.

"Every day I come into the store, I ask what my first step will be to get through the day."

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshieeagle.com.


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