Percy J. Murphy's Store, Elmira
Percy & Helen Murphy’s Store in Elmira[i]
What began as a request from, Albert Kays, who had a wholesale business on Queen Street in Charlottetown. Quickly turned into a fully functional home-run store at the residence of Percy and Helen Murphy in Elmira in 1937. They had a big house and the store was set up in three rooms of their home. It was a challenge considering they were still a young family at the time but, nevertheless they were able to offer a full array of items. These items ranged from groceries, dry goods, hardware, medical supplies, tobacco, candy and even baked goods. The Murphy’s did not stop there. The used a barn across the road as a shed to stock such things as molasses, kerosene and stove oil. They also had a gas tank installed outside in front of the store.
Percy worked in the railroad during those years. Helen ran the store. It's hard to imagine them having any quiet time at home. When they tried to take Wednesday afternoons off, customers would come in the kitchen door and always left with their groceries; after a visit and a cup of tea.
As in many other general stores in the Eastern Kings area, it was a prime spot for late evening social gatherings. When there were nights with little to do customers would come in to purchase tobacco and other such items, only to stick around for many good laughs and storytelling. Some nights most people wouldn’t leave until midnight or later. Percy had a barberrshop upstairs wherre men would pay twenty-five cents for a haircut.
The telephone in the house was a great connection for the salesmen who came to Elmira on the train to take orders from the local merchants. Often these agents would need a place to stay overnight during the winter. No one was every turned away.
Percy and Helen operated the store in this fashion until they decided to close the store down in 1949. Their experience would forever be recalled as a very busy, happy and memorable 12 years running.