HAMPSTEAD — Times have changed since the Plaistow Bank and Trust president told Wayne Dumas about a country store for sale.
Dumas and his wife, Deborah, bought Don's Market 35 years ago.
"It was going under," he said. "We took a chance buying this store. I was 23; my wife was 20. We'd only been married six months when we bought it. We had $400 left over."
Dumas, who took a little time out yesterday to tell jokes and stories for customers, glanced at his wife and laughed.
"Now we have $300," he said.
Then he turned to offer a slice of birthday cake to a customer.
The cake, with a picture of the new $5 lottery ticket, came from the New Hampshire State Lottery Commission, which celebrated its 45th anniversary by throwing birthday parties at 12 locations statewide.
Brenda Tilton, a New Hampshire Lottery sales representative, said she chose Don's Market for one of the parties because Dumas has been selling tickets longer than any other store owner in the area.
"Wayne's the pioneer," she said.
Dumas nodded, but said he really hadn't been around from the very beginning of the lottery in 1964.
"New Hampshire was the first state in the country to legalize the lottery," Tilton said.
Dumas was only 13 then.
"I'm the father of the multi-state lottery," he said, because in 1984 he testified before state lawmakers in favor of funding it.
The first multi-state game, Lotto America, started in 1987 and was replaced four years later. Powerball launched in 1992.
The lottery does bring people into the store, according to Gail Allain, the deli manager.
"A lot of the regulars come in to buy their tickets and the newspaper," she said.
In addition to lottery tickets, Dumas sells practically everything anyone would expect to find in a country store, from fresh chicken pies and salads to eyeglass repair kits, camping gear, fishing bait, shaving cream, picture hangers and even yarn.
"Times have changed, but I haven't," he said.
But he has cut down a bit on the variety.
"I probably stock 1,000 fewer items than I used to," he said yesterday, glancing around the shelves.
It took a minute for Tilton to think of something he doesn't sell.
"How about Bag Balm?" she asked.
"No," he said.
Before Wal-Mart opened in Salem, Dumas sold fishing licenses and permits for off-road vehicles, but he dropped that work 22 years ago.
"The people liked going to Wal-Mart so much, I let them go buy their fishing licenses there, too," he said with a laugh.
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