Ben Franklin Store in Bishop Calif.

Ben Franklin Store on Main Street in Bishop, Calif., closing at end of April

Ben Franklin is a chain of five and dime and arts and craft stores started in 1927. The stores are found primarily in small towns such as Bishop throughout the United States. It is a franchise system, with individual stores owned by independent proprietors, which here in Bishop is Adrienne Gillespie. It was perhaps the first retail franchise, starting in 1927. They are named after Benjamin Franklin, taking a cue in their merchandise offerings from Franklin’s saying, “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

Today in Bishop, the thinking by many may well be “A penny for your thoughts” on the long-time Main Street business announcing the closing of the store after decades of serving the community. It is especially upsetting to the many arts and crafts aficionados (including my wife and many of her friends) who will be forced to go out of town for some supplies or order supplies from the Internet. A number of things brought the owner, Adrienne Gillespie, to make the decision to close.

In a letter to the community and posting on social media, Gillespie, wrote the following:

To our special customers and friends; Ben Franklin will be retiring at the end of April.

We have dearly loved serving you! We are so fortunate to have such talented and wonderful quilters, artists, photographers and individual crafters in our area. You are just amazing!

Internet shopping, increased freight expense, taxes and insurance costs are just several things in the last few years that have hurt this small business, but the onset of Covid-19, that has been the biggest hit of all. Not that we have been closed like our restaurant, salons etc. but our orders are not being filled. The bulk of arts and crafts are made and shipped from overseas and are not available.

Our main supplier in Ohio is completely closed and the other big one in Michigan is only shipping about ¼ of what we have been trying to order. This has been a very difficult decision to make.

It is with much gratitude that I thank all of my customers and friends for your business and support. On behalf of my husband, Mike and myself, I thank all of the Ben Franklin employees that have been so loyal and faithful for the last 25 years.

With love and best wishes, Adrienne Gillespie, Ben Franklin Crafts and Frames.

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