After 20 years of serving Delmar with kitchen, craft and candle accouterments, the Little Country Store is closing its doors for good.
The store, which changed locations four times all within the same block on Kenwood Avenue opened for its final day of business on Saturday, Jan. 26.
"It's been extremely tough," said owner Marlene Brookins. "Today has been very tough. A lot of my customers have been in to say goodbye, and I say that it has been such an honor to see how many people have been touched by this store."
Many of Brookins' customers have become close friends. So close, in fact, that when one is asked about her experiences shopping at the Little Country Store, she said she'd rather not steal Brookins' thunder.
"This is really about Marlene," she said, asking to remain anonymous. "I was a customer on the first day. It's so sad."
Brookins opened her first Kenwood location in 1987, after a number of craft fairs.
"I had met so many good crafters doing those shows that I decided they needed a store where I could represent them," she said. In the 20 years that followed, she carried only American-made craft items.
Last year, the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce designated Brookins as businessperson of the year.
"And that was because of her work outside of her own business," said Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce President Marty Delaney. "She was really instrumental in getting the businesses in the Four Corners area to cooperate and come together for things like advertising."
Delaney said Brookins did all of this in her limited spare time.
"She really epitomizes what being a small business owner is all about," she said. "It's not just sitting behind a cash register. Marlene realized that running small businesses is a lot easier if people work together."