ELLSWORTH — The Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce annual dinner and awards night May 16 was a full house — or rather a full tent.
The sold-out event was held under a big white tent in the parking lot of Coastal Auto Parts NAPA, this year’s recipient of the Chamber’s coveted Top Drawer Award.
Civic pride and gratitude were the themes of the night, as Chamber members celebrated the honorees and the honorees, in turn, thanked the community for its continuing support.
Citizen of the Year Jackie Wycoff, manager of the Community Closet thrift store, spoke of the “magic” that makes the nonprofit’s work possible. When a need arises, the community steps up, she said.
The volunteer-run store is stocked with donations. Shoppers pay what they can for the first 10 items. Fire victims are invited in to get whatever they need for free. The Community Closet also maintains an emergency food closet and distributes free books and toiletries.
Wycoff thanked her regular volunteers and the team of helpers from Stanley Subaru, who recently donated their time to help get the store in order. She also announced that Brown’s Appliance has donated a van to the organization.
Also clearly thankful last Thursday was the Boles family — Fay and Patty Boles and their children, sons Michael, Matt, Christopher Boles and daughter Marcia Boles Jude. The family owns Coastal Auto Parts NAPA, winner of the Top Drawer Award.
The business has grown from one store on High Street acquired by Fay Boles in 1981 to more than 25 locations and 270 employees. In their remarks, the Boleses thanked their employees, family members, the NAPA parent organization and the customers who have made it all possible.
Christopher Boles recalled working in the shop as a teenager. He’d just concluded a phone call with a customer when his father, Fay, approached to tell him he’d forgotten something essential. He learned a lesson in the “power of thank you” that day.
“Thank you, thank you,” Boles said to the audience.
In other awards, Shirley’s Yarns & Crafts was presented with the Customer Service Award. The New Business of the Year Award went to CrossFit Breakwater and Josie’s Country Store and Café received the Revitalization Award.
In the brief business portion of the meeting, Chamber Board President Fred Ehrlenbach told the crowd that the Chamber plans to relocate its office from the current High Street location to a space next to Renys. The former bank branch needs renovation. There is not yet a timetable for the move.
Chamber Executive Director Gretchen Wilson announced that 60 businesses had joined the Chamber in 2018. The Chamber conducted its first pop-up event center and for the first time was able to sell Acadia National Park passes.
With low unemployment, area businesses continue to struggle to find workers, she reported.
“There is no one reason why you don’t have a carpenter or a plumber or someone to man the front desk,” Wilson said, adding that she doesn’t expect the worker shortage to end anytime soon. The Chamber will continue to offer its assistance, but businesses will need to “adapt” to the labor market, she said.