A Page from North Quabbin History: Tepper’s sold ‘a little bit of everything’

  • Grace Roche and J. Chris Roche. Grace received five of these blue bowls that came from Tepper's 5&10, filled with an assortment of goodies ranging from lobster to candy, after telling each of her five grown children not to spend their money on her, but she had seen a blue bowl she liked at Tepper’s. Contributed photo

  • Christmas tree ornaments from Tepper's 5&10 store. Contributed photo

  • Christmas tree ornaments purchased at Tepper's 5&10, 1967. Maureen Riendeau recalls, "The best part was that the boxes were marked .99 cents, crossed out and makred fown to 44 cents and then again crossed out and marked 33 cents! There were six ornaments in a box and I still have the 12 today. They are the first to go on my tree each year, right after the lights." Contributed photo/Maureen Riendeau

  • Grace Roche and J. Chris Roche. Grace received five of these blue bowls that came from Tepper's 5&10, filed with an assortment of goodies ranging from lobster to candy, after telling each of her five grown children not to spend their money on her, but she had seen a blue bowl she liked at Tepper’s. Contributed photo

Published: 1/11/2021 3:36:13 PM
Modified: 1/11/2021 3:35:51 PM

Many have fond memories of local businesses which once thrived in the North Quabbin Community. Among those fondly remembered businesses is Tepper’s 5&10, located on West Main Street in the Mattawa Block where the Community Clothing Store is currently located in Orange.

The Tepper’s store was owned by brothers James Allen, Stanley and Donald Tepper, according to Laurence Tepper, son of Stanley Tepper. He said the store “sold a little bit of everything” and that he had done inventory control at the store at different times.

In a June 30, 1949 column in the Orange Enterprise and Journal, titled “Men About Town,” brothers J. Allen and Stanley Tepper were featured. The Orange store, opened on Oct. 29, 1938, was the first of four stores opened by the brothers, the article stated. Later stores would include those in Lawrence, Northampton and Norwich, Conn. The Connecticut store, according to Dale Plummer, Norwich City Historian, is first listed in the city’s business directory in 1948.

J. Allen Tepper worked for Newberry 5&10 before opening his own 5&10 in Orange. Stanley Tepper, too, worked for Newberry’s before joining his brother.

The article stated that “Orange was the first store to be opened and served as a testing ground for the merchandise. This was because Allen regards the people of Orange as discriminating. He stated that if his stock sells well here, he can be sure it will sell well in the other stores as well.”

The article continues there were plans to open a luncheonette to be in three weeks with full meals served as well as sandwiches and the usual full fountain service.

Maureen Riendeau, who serves on the Board of Directors of the Orange Historical Society, has fond Christmas memories of the store. “In 1967 when I went away to Merrimack College, my roommates and I just had to decorate a tree for our dorm room. We needed decorations on a budget, and when I went home for Thanksgiving. I made a trip to Tepper’s and purchased two boxes of beautiful green glass ornaments, about 6” long, with a beautiful shape. The best part was that the boxes were marked $.99, crossed out and marked down to $.44, and then again crossed out and marked $.33! There were six ornaments in a box. She continued that the memory of the store still continues today when she decorates her tree. “I still have the 12 today. They are the first to go on my tree each year, right after the lights!”

Riendeau said another fond holiday memory is the blue bowls which they sold. “In the fall of 1981 I was young, and married with two children under 5, living two blocks down the street from my parents. My four younger siblings ranged from college to just married. All of us asked my mother, Grace Roche, what she wanted for Christmas, and all got the same answer: “I don’t need anything. Save your money. Use it for school, your family.”

Upon thinking about it, though, Roche mentioned to Riendeau that Tepper’s had a blue plastic bowl that she liked and thought might be useful in the kitchen. “I hurried up to get one, and though I don’t remember the price, I am pretty sure it was well less than a dollar. On Christmas, Riendeau wrapped it up with a can of frozen lobster meat inside and put it under her parent’s tree.

Riendeau said her mother apparently had mentioned the same bowl to her siblings. “She had mentioned the same bowl to my brother, Mike, because he purchased one and put a package of chocolates in it! I believe Patricia’s blue bowl had candy … and I am not sure whether Chris and Paul packaged extras, but apparently they, too, heeded Mom’s offhand remark that she’d like a blue bowl from Tepper’s. I just remember the hysterics as she unwrapped five big blue bowls, posing with two as Mickey Mouse ears or holding them a la Madonna! Those bowls were handy, and when I moved in to care for Mom in the early 2000s, I was pleased to find two of them still in the daily rotation for food prep. Two others had cracked, but were doing duty as plant holders. My husband and I continued to use them often, and especially around the holidays we would remark on their long and useful service. We were both near tears when the last one fell from the sink last year and broke. ”

Jeff Cole, Treasurer of the Orange Historical Society and owner of Witty’s Funeral Home, also remembers visiting the store and specifically remembers the candy selection. When he was asked if he had a favorite candy he replied “as a kid 99 percent of all candy was good, in our view.”

Even a look at an advertisement for the Tepper’s store from 1966 is a walk down memory lane and shows the wide variety of items the store sold. In a Sept. 15, 1966 advertisement in the Orange Enterprise Journal, Tepper’s was advertising a package of brush curlers for 39 cents, a pocket-size radio for $3.99; a laundry basket for 44 cents, Corduroy shirts for $2.88 and a bottle of Aspirin for 15 cents. In 1964, the store was advertising ski parkas for $4.98.


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