Life's Reflections: Linda Moody's Weekly Column
My plan was to have a feature story on Harry Birt’s Store in New Weston as a feature for Darke County Now before Christmas.
However, it did not come to fruition, and I take the blame for that.
I visited the store one afternoon recently, really not feeling well. I took some photos of the “sweet” offerings. Owner Brad Birt was behind the counter helping the clerk get customers through the long line winding around the various aisles, but he took time away from work to talk to me, But I blew it. Instead of doing the interview that day, I offered to send some questions to him so that he could answer them and send them back to me.
Brad said he would do that, but, as time wore on, he subsequently admitted that he was just too busy. I don’t blame him. I can imagine how busy he is…traveling to get the candy and other supplies for the store, bringing those items back and stocking the shelves and then helping out when the crowds arrive.
I’ve written other stories on the store throughout the years, so I am going to try and make it up to Brad and the store’s importance to Darke County with a feature on it anyway. I feel bad that it didn’t transpire and I want to make up for that.
Harry Birt’s Store makes Darke County proud….not only at Christmas time but throughout the year. I’m sure the residents there appreciate the business in more ways than one.
According to previous quotes, the late Harry Birt Jr., Brad’s father, is heard to have said, “It all started with three kinds of candy…chocolate drops, orange slices and white peppermints.”
It was Junior who was the first Birt to make candy a mainstay item at the store.
One account said, “After having served in the Merchant Marines in World War II, and the Coast Guard during the Korean War, Harry Jr. returned home to Ohio. His father, Harry Sr., asked him to ‘help out’ at the store. It was Harry Jr. who suggested that Harry Birt’s Store expand its fresh fruit and candy selections. Moreover, it was Harry, Jr. who made the weekly ‘runs’ to neighboring states, such as Michigan (for apples), Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, traveling with wife, Barbara, and Brad, at six months old, in the family’s station wagon.”
Every year, the store introduces special, one-of-a-kind treats and chocolates for the holiday season and that was not an exception this year.
In reaching out to its Facebook users this year, one message on its website read, “We are so grateful for every single person who walks through our door, writes kind messages/comments/reviews, or simply supports us from afar by spreading the word. We realize we would not be here for 101-plus years without the support of our incredible community. Thank you for supporting us and allowing us the opportunity to do what we love- you all mean the world to us!”
It was also noted the family-store owners proudly offer 500-plus varieties of chocolates and candy, fresh fruit and deli meats and cheeses, not to mention bedding plants and other products in their respective seasons.
As that message said, there’s something for the entire family….and that’s a fact.
Passersby headed west in the town can’t miss seeing the mural on the west side of the store at 501 S. Main St., that was created quite a few years ago, showing what life would have been like back in the 1800s.
The store is open daily and has its own website, harrybirtsstore.com.
Brad enjoys greeting people in the store, and sharing the many memories of his family’s legacy in Darke County. He said he’s been told many times by visitors that the store brings back special childhood memories.
New Weston was founded in the 1880s during the construction of a railroad line through Allen Township and was one of the last communities to be founded in Darke County.
And, guess what! Brad is mayor of the village, whose population was 130, according to the 2018 census.
“We still call our customers, their children and grandchildren, by name. You are not a stranger for long here at the store,” said Brad.
Jamie and I extend our condolences to the families of: Betty McMiller, Sharon Brewer Higgins, Carl Owens, Layton White, Nancy K. Wood, Evelyn Pahl, Todd Oliver, Geraldine Threewits, Wade Farmer and Dave Smith.******
Please pray for these people: Peg Pretzman, Stefani Priest, Roxanne Barnes, Joann Freeman, Cathy Collins Peters, Max Subler, Donna Bixler, Vanna Hannam, Debbie Labig, Jeff Stewart, Kevin Wampler, Brenda Wallace, Michelle Young, Roger McEowen, Jerri Barber, Terri Dienes, Sally Burnett Ganger, Rick Alexander, Al Bliss, Jeff Zumbrun, Gary Cain, Shelley Brinley, Stacy Cline, Ron Mills, Cheryl Gilmore, June Moody, Larry Vititoe, D’Arleen Waymire, Joe Arnett, Tony Liette, Jennifer Peck, Matt Hiestand, Kathy Swabb, Gloria Hodge, Jeff Baltes, Cory Meadows, D’Arleen Waymire, Judy Hoffman and daughter Shelly, Albert Duncan, Cathy Melling, Martha Garner, Scott Clark, and all of those who are suffering from other life-altering illnesses, including Covid and other variants associated with the Pandemic.
Happy birthday to:
Dec. 27 to Tina Mcclanahan, Molly Walls, Scott Pfledderer, Tracy Johnson, Dana Heck, Rob Hathaway, Linda Leeper, Peggy Fullrod, Mary Bevins, Eddie O’Rock, Jim Batten and Daryl Goodwin.
Dec. 28 to Terry Overbay, Carol Cox, Bill Gantt and Holden Long.
Dec. 29 to Betty Burnfield, Brad Slyder, Bruce Hetzler, Kayla Young, Christa Bonfiglio, Brooke Neal and Craig Prenger.
Dec. 30 to Monica Stover, Caitlin Moody, Stacey Barnt, Kylee Freeman, Christy Bonfiglio, Craig Prenger and Trevor Hemmerich.
Dec. 31 to Dennis Moody, Chad Wagner, Justin Wilson and Amber Neal.
Jan. 1 to Rick Price, Paula Harbison, Seth Phillippi, Ted Liette, Justin Wilson and Kerry Foshee.
Jan. 2 to Stacy Gibson, Brook Hilderbrand, Jerry Miller, Rick Hahn, Seth Klingshirn, Karie Stickley, Shirley Phillippi, Steve Wilson, Ron Gard, Kathy Widener and Jason Crawford.
Think about it: “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” – Michael Altshuler