After 100 years: Allens closing

Justin Dickie
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AMHERST - The times have caught up with Deane Allen.

After 100 years: Allens closing

AMHERST - The times have caught up with Deane Allen.

The owner of Amherst Millwork Ltd., Allen's Building Supplies, and Allen's Locksmithing will close the doors on his Laplanche St. business on September 30.

"Times have changed," Allen said. "The demand's not there for custom work."

For more than 100 years the Allen family has been doing construction-related work in the Amherst area.

Deane's grandfather, Ainslie Allen, moved to Amherst Head in 1891 to set up a window sash-making shop. In the early 1900's Ainslie moved his work into Amherst where he started building houses on Victoria Street. When he died in 1930, Deane's father Kenneth P. Allen moved to Amherst from Halifax to finish Ainslie's contracted work and never returned to the city.

K.P. worked from his home until 1947 when he set up shop on Laplanche Street.

Deane started working for his father in 1954 and when K.P. died in 1964, Deane took over the business.

Besides the fact that he can't make a living doing custom millwork anymore, Deane said he's shutting down because he's 65 and ready to retire.

It's not going to be easy for him to give it up.

"I love doing it. All the people that come here come here because they can't find something (at a big store) and they know I'll have it," Deane said. "It always made me happy to be able to help somebody out on a problem they couldn't solve, like needing half a sheet of plywood or a custom-sized door. We've always been known as people who can find things that nobody else has and do things that other people don't do. I'm going to miss that."

However, the family tradition could still be kept alive. Deane said his son and daughter-in-law are currently weighing the pros and cons of continuing locksmithing and paint mixing. Deane said if that happens, they'll also be relocating to a more central location.

But Deane isn't planning on influencing their decision in any way.

"I spent 53 years of my life trying to make enough money just to survive, I don't know if I want him (his son) to do that or not," Deane said. "If they get a good job somewhere else and don't have the worries of running their own business, that's fine. But if they want to carry on the family tradition, that's fine with me, too."

jdickie@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Amherst Millwork

Geographic location: Amherst, Victoria Street, Halifax

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