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Terni’s: One in a million, 100 years on

Sometimes, some communities have mainstays. Sometimes, they have landmarks. And sometimes, they have institutions. Terni’s in Millerton is one such institution, synonymous with the name of the village itself.

An anchor store along Main Street, Terni’s is celebrating its 100th year in business this week. It’s quite an accomplishment considering the evolution Millerton has experienced in the last century. 

Third generation shopkeeper Phil Terni runs the store with his wife, Ellen. They’ve been important members of the community since before anyone can remember. In fact it was Phil’s grandmother, Assunta, who helped establish the store with his grandfather, Leo, all those years ago.

And while much has changed since 1919, some things haven’t. The newspapers, the hunting equipment, the rugged clothing and the pipes — not to mention the penny candy — are all reminders of years gone by and much of it is still available today. 

But more than items, Terni’s is about a feeling. It’s about reminiscing with friends and family — imagining what Millerton was like long ago when veterans of the world wars would gather to shoot the breeze and speak of past glories.  It’s about the spirit of Millerton, of Fourth of July parades and Christmas parties, of picnics and hayrides, of the railroad and the Rail Trail. It’s about the farmers whose crops and cattle provided sustenance, and the workers who made that possible. It’s about the families that spent their change at the soda fountain, reading through magazines and speaking of upcoming adventures. It’s about community, and the place in the community that the Terni family has filled decade after decade, making friends and connections all along the way.

Now, as we all take a moment to celebrate Terni’s and what it’s meant to Millerton, we can reflect on why this community is so special. Everyone, it seems, wants to pay homage to the Ternis and what they’ve done for the village. Shopkeepers, restaurateurs, gallery owners, residents and visitors — they all wanted to throw a big celebration for what has been and continues to be a cornerstone of the community — and the people behind it. But Phil and Ellen, in their quiet, dignified way, have requested no parties, no fanfare, no fuss.

We understand their desire to remain quiet and out of the limelight. But, that said, we thought it only right to express to them what they have meant to us, and what Terni’s has meant to Millerton. When businesses come and go, and the landscape of Main Street changes so frequently, there is something special about those enterprises that remain standing year after year. 

Saperstein’s, which was in business for 70 years, closed its doors about two years ago. That’s one piece of history now gone. Terni’s has remained. But it might not be able to do so forever. We’re just glad it’s been around for as long as it has, and that so many have  been able to walk along its worn wooden floors, perch their elbows on the cool marble counter tops, and strike up conversation with the personable Phil or Ellen.

With its old-fashioned flavor and still current inventory, with its familiar decorations and historical markers, with its proud placement on Main Street and its fading green paint — Terni’s is turning 100. We’re pleased to wish it a happy anniversary, and to wish the Terni family well as it moves into the future with the rest of Millerton. We thank you for the memories.