UPDATED: White River Junction has one of the last typewriter shops on the planet. But it's about to close, and that's sending shock waves through a certain type.
Remember that sweet little Smith-Corona typewriter your parents sent you off to college with?
Okay, okay, so your parents sent you with a MacBook. But hang with me for a second, because you need to know that one of the few remaining typewriter sales and repair shops on the planet is right here in White River Junction.
But only until the end of this week.
Twin State Typewriter will end a run of nearly a half century at the end of July when its owners turn over the key to the building housing it and five affordable apartments to Northern Stage, which plans to use the structure for office space and to house visiting actors.
“It’s kind of overwhelming,” says Wanda Nalette, 68, who owns the South Main Street building with her husband Donald and has run the shop since 2000.
Heading into its final week, the shop has cleared out much of its inventory. The owners have taken 75 percent off the prices of remaining items — including desks, filing cabinets and office supplies — to clear the place out in time for a July 31 move-out date.
The typewriters, which range in price from $50 to $250, are not subject to the standard 75 percent discount. But Wanda says the prices are negotiable.
The typewriters range from shiny black Depression era Remington manuals to the IBM Selectrics that used to be the Cadillacs of office writing machines. There’s a “personal word processor” with a screen the size of a grade-school ruler.
And there, like a beacon shining from the Land of Term Papers Past, is those sweet little Smith-Coronas.
Well, except for one. Wanda has a shiny black Corona in perfect working condition that she's taking with her. She's got the receipt handed down by its original owner, who paid $55 for it in Montana on June 1, 1956.
"It was a lot of money that long ago," she says.
The dominance of computer technology in recent decades has pushed typewriters into the history books for most people. But enough have held onto the old machines, particularly the vintage hunt-and-peck manuals, that Twin State has done a strong business.
Bring us your stuck carriage returns, your broken keys, your ribbons in need of replacing, the shop’s owners said. And customers did, not just from around the Valley but from around the nation.
Just old-timers? Nope, says Wanda.
“It’s teenagers and college kids” as well, she says. Why? “I don’t know. Why are vinyl records coming back?”
She’s not sure where people will get their machines cleaned and fixed now, although it’s possible that Jeff Wells, a Claremont typewriter repairman who has been helping Twin State, will pick up some of the work.
For a person who's mechanically inclined, she said, “you can make a good living on it.”
Not everyone wants to do their work on a smartphone or computer, she reminds me. Sitting at a desk surrounded by pictures of her grandchildren, she pulls out a paper ledger book when I ask her a question about the business.
No computer? She points at the corner, where a small black object serves as a resting place for a water bottle and miscellaneous other stuff.
“I have a laptop that I pile things on.”
Twin State Typewriter is located at 93 South Main Street in White River. There’s no website but Wanda would be happy to take your call at (802) 295-2803.