SOUTHWEST HARBOR — There are two things different about the store at 10 Clark Point Road this season and they both have to do with the man who ran it for nearly a decade.
First is the name, Fred’s, highlighted on blue signs that hang above the door and in each display window. The second thing missing is the man whose name is on the sign, Fred Hallaby, and the infectiously positive personality he brought everywhere.
Hallaby died of a heart attack in January, during a trip to visit family in Australia, where he grew up. He had just celebrated his 54th birthday.
“He loved living here,” said Jim King, who owns The Lindenwood Inn and was Hallaby’s partner — in life and business — of 15 years. “He loved the American people. He thought they were so interesting.”
King originally bought the store from Christine Schmidt around 2009, shortly after the recession in 2008. While the name stayed mostly the same, Christine’s Gallery and Past Treasures, the theme slowly changed to a consignment shop.
“We didn’t know what to do with it,” said King.
Hallaby began collecting items homeowners throughout Mount Desert Island were looking to discard.
“One person’s trash on this island is another man’s treasure,” said King. “It’s saving things from going in the tip.”
Or as Americans more commonly say, the dump.
The reverse was true as well.
“If they needed something they’d come to Fred,” said King. “He could sell anything to anybody. Every time someone came in he would smile.”
Those who knew Hallaby know just what King is talking about. He had a way of lighting up a room and making everyone in it feel special and appreciated.
“He became part of the family here in this community,” said King. “It’s not easy to break into this community, especially if you’re a foreigner.”
Hallaby also had a difficult time saying no, King added. It has taken a bit of time to sort through all that was collected over the years for the store. Some of the items have great value, like a Mario Bellini chair, and some not so much.
“Fred was a workaholic, that’s for sure,” said King. “He woke up smiling every day.”
Although his death was unexpected, Hallaby’s last journey was to visit family, including a new grand-daughter, and celebrate the holidays with friends. He and King had scheduled a party in Australia, but Hallaby died the day before it was to take place.
“When I got back I was just going to sell everything,” said King. “But this community is so nice. I felt the warmth of this community.”
As a way to give back, a scholarship fund has been set up at the Harbor House in memory of Hallaby to help children who want to attend summer camp.
“Fred liked the underdog — the young kids who really need the camp so their parents can go to work — that’s who we really want to help,” said King.
The Lindenwood Inn, listed for sale over the last year, has been taken off the market and Vanessa Bys has taken on the management role at Fred’s.
King is taking some time off from running both businesses to grieve and regroup.
“Fred was a very active man, he wasn’t sickly,” said King who is still reeling from the sudden loss. “I’ll never be able to replace him.”