BAR HARBOR — When signs appeared in the windows of Arnold’s TV and Video on Cottage Street a few weeks ago announcing going-out-of-business sales, many residents were surprised and disappointed. Lots of them stopped by the store Sunday during an open house reception to buy a few of their favorite movies and wish owner Marty Lamson well.
The store will remain open for the next few weeks, Lamson said, to sell off inventory. Once it closes, he plans to continue to do repair work and may be reached at the same business phone number.
Arnold’s has been a fixture at this location since 1985, when Lamson and Arnold Harkins moved their television sales and service business here from Harkins’ Somesville garage.
“I had been working with him for about three years,” Lamson said. “I suggested that Bar Harbor was busy enough that we could try opening a store. The best thing I could think of to incorporate sales and service was video rentals, so I went to China, Maine, and bought the VHS video collection from a store that went out of business there.”
Sharon Riley has been working at the store since the beginning. She is responsible for the movie library, Lamson said. “She managed to stock the things that our clientele wanted.” Other staff are Kendall Davis and Carla Stehoek, who had been at the store 15 years before retiring last year. She’s back for the final weeks to help with the closeout.
Lamson studied electronics in college in California before joining the Navy, where he got more training and experience with electronics. “Then after four years in the Navy, I got out, came to Bar Harbor and started working for Morgan Grindle in his TV repair business. I learned a lot about that from working with him,” he said. He left for a year to study electrical engineering at Northeastern University, but decided not to pursue that field and came back to Bar Harbor. That’s when he joined forces with Harkins.
“We were partners for many years, and then he decided to retire about 10 years ago,” Lamson said. He didn’t change the business name because it was familiar to customers.
In 1999, Radio Shack knocked on the door and asked if they wanted to become a franchise store. When Radio Shack went bankrupt this year, Arnold’s took a hit and had to order from elsewhere. A steady decline in video rentals also has hurt the bottom line.
First Express next door plans to begin carrying some of the most popular items found at Arnold’s, like printer ink, chargers and batteries.
“I have a list of things that are profitable, that people are looking for,” Lamson said, that he plans to share with First Express owner Michele Abbott-Croan.