LIVERMORE FALLS — Pat Knowlton started her wallpaper business in her basement nearly 50 years ago with just $50.

Now 79 years old, the Livermore Falls woman says she’s retiring and closing the store at 50 Depot St. because no one seems interested in buying the business.

She started buying wallpaper from Liz Cloutier’s store at Union and Church streets, using it in the apartments she and her husband, Wayne, owned. They had as many as 30 at one time, but that number is now down to seven, along with their residential and commercial buildings.

Knowlton said after she bought the business she called Brewster wall coverings in Massachusetts to stock a book of wallpaper patterns. The representative told her, “‘You are not going to make it.'”

She proved him wrong.

She started with some items she got for free, like wallpaper display racks in Lewiston. She got a counter from the Boys Scout camp in Winthrop and shelving to hold the books from a dress shop.


She ran the store from her basement for two or three years, “Then we bought this place,” she said of the paint and wallpaper store she’s operated for 47 years.

“At nearly 80, I think it is time to retire,” she said, admitting she’ll miss people she’s met from all over the state, including customers in Bangor, Portland, Camden and Rockland.

“This is what I am going to miss,” she said. “I enjoy selling the paper and the paint, actually, and the customers. Without the customers, I wouldn’t be here.”

The business records are all handwritten.

“I don’t use a computer,” she said, except for paint formulas. She does have a fax machine.

“If they need something they will either fax it or send it to my phone,” Knowlton said.


Perhaps one key to her success is customer service. She said a lot of customers find what they want on the internet and she shows them the item in her wallpaper book.

Pat Knowlton stands Monday in front of Pat’s Wallpaper in Livermore Falls, a business she started nearly 50 years ago. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“They will look at the color and feel it,” she said. “A lot of times it is not what they want and I will work with them to find what they do want.”

“I keep files on what all of my customers and contractors bought,” she said, and she plans to keep them in case they want them for future reference.

She mixes paints and sells brushes, rollers, wallpaper paste and scrapers necessary for each job.

She’s dealt with every (wallpaper) company, she said, and believes she is the last in the state to stock wallpaper.

She typically keeps 800 rolls of wallpaper in stock.


“I still have quite a bit,” she said. “I will probably go until the end of November.”

She sold her paint stock to Ware-Butler Inc. store in town.

Her husband helps out, but typically works on the apartment units they own.

“We’ve had a good time. I’ve enjoyed it so much,” she said.

The Knowltons are very active in the community, putting up the U.S. flags on poles around the downtown for about 25 years and often participating in the July 3 parade.

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