The last coat

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 1, 2005

Salmon’s Paint closing a chapter

By Jason Norman

It’s been a good 26 years.

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Back in 1979, Jim Salmon, fresh off a 23-year stint at the Sherwin-Williams paint company, stepped into a new building at 300 Carolina Road and opened his own paint and decorating center. Now, more than a quarter-century later, he’s ready to step out for the last time.

&uot;For 26 years, we’ve established a great customer base,&uot; Salmon said. &uot;We’ve been loyal, we’ve opened and closed at the specified times, but we’ve also been available after hours. You’d be surprised how many times I’ve had to come back to accommodate a customer.&uot;

His journey began as a 20-year-old newlywed in 1956.

&uot;I was working in a little grocery story, making no money whatsoever,&uot; he said. &uot;I went to the local unemployment office, and found out that Sherman-Williams had an opening for an inside salesman. I applied and got the job.&uot;

The paint shop started on Main Street (now occupied by a pawn shop), then moved to Suffolk Plaza. Meanwhile, Salmon moved up to credit manager, outside salesman, and, in 1965, store manager.

&uot;I saw how good the business was becoming and the profits it was generating,&uot; he said. &uot;I figured that if I could make it for them, I could make it for myself. I was born and raised in Suffolk, and I’d been in front of the public. I had a tremendous customer following, with relatives, friends, business accounts, everyone.&uot;

So he decided to move down the street and open his own company.

&uot;It’s been really, really good,&uot; he said. &uot;We’ve worked it hard. We haven’t had a vacation in 26 years.&uot;

Now, maybe he’ll have some time. But Salmon feels that the business’ new owner might have things pretty easy.

&uot;If he comes in here and is honest and devoted to the business, it will be good for him,&uot; he said. &uot;I don’t want to close and have my customers go elsewhere; I want it to stay open and help the new owner. I’ll be here to try to help get it going.&uot;

So what does the future hold for the soon-to-be-retiree?

&uot;I’ll maybe try to travel a little bit,&uot; he said. &uot;No particular place; I’ve never been anywhere. I just know I’m getting old, and it’s time to retire. When I walk out for the last time, knowing the business doesn’t belong to me anymore, it’s going to very emotional.&uot;