Prize packages

Customers could buy a box at Wolf's jewelry store for a surprise inside

LOUDONVILLE -- Earl Wolf operated his jewelry store in Loudonville for 43 years.

In 1890 he rented space in W.P. Ullman's drug store at the corner of Main and Water, and stayed there after Ullman sold the space to Covert. In 1901, a fire destroyed half of downtown Loudonville. Covert's drug store was spared the carnage, but Wolf's leading competitor, James Rollins who operated a storefront in the American House complex where the fire began, lost his entire business.

Wolf, seeing an opportunity to expand, struck out and built his own store on the ashes of Rollins' old site at 232 West Main. Rollins first leased space from the existing businesses such as the Citizens Savings Bank. However, according to Ann Bittner, James Rollins passed away in 1910 in his 40s. Meanwhile, the Rollins' business rebuilt a new store in 1913. It was built for Mrs. James (Jennie Pippit) Rollins by her father Henry, the Civil War vet.

Meanwhile, one of the annual highlights for Wolf was when he would fill his front window with a mountain of nondescript packages that customers would have to buy to find out what surprise was inside.

The signs read: "Our Annual Grab Sale, 50¢ A Package, No Blanks, Finer And Better Goods Then Ever Before, Fare A Chance, Try Your Luck," and "Packages Contain Silverware, Jewelery, Cut Glass China, Novelties, Etc."

In the fall of 1933 as the Great Depression was taking its toll, Earl, whose health was declining, decided to take an early retirement.

Unable, or perhaps unwilling, to find a buyer for his business, he held a "Going Out of Business Sale" in September of that year. Just short of two years later, on Aug. 14 of 1935, Earl passed away. His wife and daughter continued to own the building, leasing it out, until the mid-1960s when they sold it to Ron Farquhar.

More information on the Cleo Redd Fisher Museum can be found at this link.

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