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One Of The Few Remaining Typewriter Shops in New England Closes Its Doors

public domain via flickr

Twin State Typewriter of White River Junction, Vermont, will close its doors on July 31st. Owner Wanda Nalette has worked at the store for 48 years, and along with her husband Don, bought the business and building in 2000. NHPR’s Peter Biello spoke with Wanda Nalette on the phone about the end of an era.

(This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.)


[Phone Ringing]


Twin State Typewriter.


Hi, is this Wanda?


Yes it is.


Hi Wanda. This is Peter from NHPR. Thank you very much for speaking with me.


You're very welcome.


So you and your husband have owned this place since the year 2000. How does it feel now to finally be selling the business?


It's kind of, it's not a great feeling. It is for my husband, he's ready to be done but I'm going to miss it.


What have your customers been saying when they've learned that you're selling and moving on?


They're very upset. Our longtime customers are, you know, they're going to miss us. Our regulars pretty much are anti-big-box stores. And there's not many more left like us, so.


Well tell us a little bit about your customers, people who own and regularly use typewriters in a world that seems to be dominated by digital technology. Who's still using typewriters and what are they using them for?


Well as far as the electric ones go, almost every office has one, every attorney's office, banks, just for quick forms or envelopes. The manuals that are really in great demand are all age limits. You know, young children, teenagers, college kids, older people. They're coming back and very popular.


And one of your customers was the late author J.D. Salinger. What do you remember about him coming into the store?


He was a frequent visitor. He had many machines and alternated them, brought them in pretty regularly.


Has there been a rush of business to try to get typewriters repaired?


Oh my God, it's been crazy, yeah.


Crazy how?


It's been, everybody's bringing their machines in or calling for ribbons or coming in to buy a dozen ribbons at a time because they don't know where they'll go. We've actually stopped taking in machines because we have so many, such a backlog right now. And time is running out.


What do you think the culture loses as we lose, bit by bit, the prominence or the presence of typewriters in offices and homes throughout the country?


I think it's just the end of an era. I mean everything is so technical now and there's a lot of us like me that couldn't survive in that technical world. I mean I'm not a computer person and I don't want to be. I guess I don't want to learn any new things. I don't know, it's my age I guess. But from talking to all of our people that do come in, I'm not alone. You know if I'm calling, ordering supplies for the store or things for customers, I call my companies and they always tell me, "You can do this online," and I say "Yeah, but I'm not going to." So I still phone my orders in and talked to a real person.


Well Wanda Nalette, thank you very much for speaking with me and best of luck to you and your husband after you close the doors at Twin State Typewriter.


Thank you very much.


Peter Biello is the host of All Things Considered and Writers on a New England Stage at New Hampshire Public Radio. He has served as a producer/announcer/host of Weekend Edition Saturday at Vermont Public Radio and as a reporter/host of Morning Edition at WHQR in Wilmington, North Carolina.

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