Lincoln Davies: the Paris Station store keeps packing in loyal customers.
Dave Kalies has lived in Paris Station for over 10 years and dealt with the folks at Lincoln Davies just as long. That’s why he keeps coming back.
A new business on the horizon? Hardly, although the horizon and surrounding countryside is a beautiful sight to behold from this location in the heart of what was once rich farm country.
Actually, this business has been around since 1872 and run by the same family. Edward Jones is manager of the operation that was founded by this great-great- grandfather, David Davies, whose son’s first name was Lincoln.
"They used to hitch up the team and go to Utica and buy in bulk, then return and sell the items to the local farmers," said Jones, who returned to the family business in 1993 after serving as director of flight operations for the now-defunct Mohawk Airlines.
Down the hill behind the general store are the lumber yard and the railroad tracks. Paris Station was a stopping point for the Utica-Chenango-Susquehanna and the Delaware-Lackawanna & Western railroad.
Because the railroad cut through the family farm, David Davies used it to bring in coal, and then grain and lumber. "It made it easy for to supply our customers," who were mostly farmers. Jones said. "Back then the railroad was the Thruway. You didn’t go to the mall"
But times changed. A quarter century ago, there were 19 dairy farms between Utica and Waterville. "They all had tool sheds explained. "They were our core customers, along with contractors."
Today just two farms remain, but the customer base-many children and grandchildren of earlier patrons-remains strong with just under 3000 accounts in a 50-miles radius.
Over the years, the merchandise expanded and new products like windows and doors took the place of feed in the old feed mill across the road. Where once coal was a staple of the trade, now it’s woods pellets. And of course, food and hardware always are in season.
As for lumber, Jones believes the business can compete with any of the larger stores around. For example: "We carry western spruce, rather than eastern. It’s a better quality, "he says. The pressure treated decking and railing is all Number 1 grade, he say, and it’s all stored inside so it won’t warp or twist.
Small has other advantages as well. "You’re dealing with people who know you. You go to the larger stores, they don’t always know you," said Tony DeCarolis, a partner in Consolidated Home Improvements.
"You can go in, write down what you took and they’ll take care of it," he said, while at other places, you sit in line and they check your truck. "That takes time, and time is money."
Jones’ parents, Ron and Judy Jones, took over ownership in 1970 and still are at the helm today. Ron often can be found on the phone talking to customers who value his expertise. He has a philosophy about that.
"At that moment, that’s the most important thing on that customers’ mind, whether it’s about a spark plug or something else. Otherwise they wouldn’t call," he said.
"We’re also very fortunate to have had very good people working for us over the years." Many of the store employees have been employed by Lincoln Davies for over 10 years.
As far as Joe Yourno is concerned, you can’t beat Lincoln Davies. He works for Agway five miles down the road in Sangerfield. Besides closeness, "we can get the oddball things we use," like the large pipe fitting he had in one hand. "And if we can’t get up, they’ll run it down."