McCloskey & Family, Patrick

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                                  PATRICK MCCLOSKEY & FAMILY
                                     Family Business
                                     By Brenda Weaver

W.R. McCloskey’s Ltd. is rare in today’s world of specialty stores. There are few true general stores left in the country, but McCloskey’s in Boiestown is one of them.

In operation for over 100 years, the business is now in the hands of the fifth generation of McCloskeys.

On the main floor a shopper can find virtually everything in groceries and meats. Meat is cut fresh and free grocery delivery is offered on Saturday mornings in the Boiestown area.

There are brand name men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing. McCloskey’s also carries clothes and footwear for woodworkers. Customers can also rent a movie, drop off a film for development, or browse through the large selection of bone china in the giftware section. Cards are also available.

Yarn, material, and other craft items are on hand for those handy with a needle. There is a sports section which features everything for the hunter and fisherman plus skates and hockey sticks. Trappers can even buy a trap.

Electrical appliances, dishes, bedding, towels, oil lamps, wood heaters, stove pipe, shovels and scoops, Coleman lanterns, sleds, toboggans, windshield washer are motor oil can all be found in the houseware and hardware sections.

They carry piping, bathroom fixtures and many other items in the plumbing department.

Customers can purchase a lotto ticket at McCloskey’s, pay a phone bill or rent a carpet cleaner. And people can even pick up a six pack of beer or other type of liquor as McCloskey’s has a NB Liquor agency store in the building.

Downstairs is more footwear and an electrical section. They are a dealer for Sico paints and varnish. Those needing one can purchase a harness or collar for a horse as they are also a dealer for Sackville Harness.

Upstairs off-season clothing is stored along with larger items such as mattresses and roll-away cots. There are toys, collector dolls, books, tapes, school supplies and luggage in the store. If an element in someone’s oven burns out, a customer can drop by McCloskey’s and pick one up.

There isn’t too much a consumer could think of that isn’t available in that store – and if they don’t have it, they will order it.

Four buildings and five generations later, W.R. McCloskey’s is still in business.

Darrell McCloskey, his wife Hazel, and their son Brian now operate the general store in Boiestown.

The business started when Patrick McCloskey came to New Brunswick from Ireland at age 13 in 1819. He started as a peddler carrying a pack on his back and travelled the Miramichi as far north as Bathurst, Hazel said. He later purchased a horse and wagon and had a large chest to hold his wares. This chest can be seen at the Central New Brunswick Woodsmen’s Museum in Boiestown.

He carried on his business in a small store attached to his house in Boiestown until his death in 1866. His widow Sarah continued the business. Their son William started working in the store at 14, and later took over the business. William McCloskey also sold hemlock bark to tanneries to be used in dying leather. He worked at the store until 1913 when he died at 54.

His son, Hedleigh, worked in the business beginning at age 15, then ran the store. His sons, Darrell and Vincent, later came to work. After the death of his father, Darrell continued to manage the store and brought in the fifth generation of McCloskeys when his son Brian started to work.

When the store attached to Patrick’s house became too small, the business was moved to a larger building next door in 1875. In 1905, it was moved to the present location, but the building burned. In 1952, the forth and present building was built. The store was incorporated in 1914.

Hazel said she met her husband, Darrell, when she came to work for the family in 1947. They were married two years later.

There are six employees at the store. “Over the years we have had a wonderful staff,” Hazel said. “They are very friendly and helpful.”

The store has some unique features as well as the huge amount of merchandise. A chute carries boxes from delivery trucks to the basement and a platform with a trap door is used to send supplies up to the main floor.

Hazel said besides the local faithful shoppers they get many strangers dropping by to buy things. Some are looking for things like bean crocks and others want old clothing – such as 1960s-style bellbottom pants that can be found upstairs. Hazel said some of the old clothing is purchased by theatre companies to use in plays.

Recently, an order of washboards and washtubs was purchased and is on its way to Sarajevo.

Hazel said she hopes the business stays in the family. With four children and nine grandchildren, there could well be a sixth generation to run the general store.

Source: Miramichi Leader – November 18, 1992

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