Phoenix Beverage

Shirley’s Phoenix Beverage Company        

1918 – It was begun by Joseph Bloomenthal on Main Street at the site of the current Phoenix Restaurant.  Presumably, it was named for the Phoenix Mill area of town.
1930 – It was sold to Hyman Perlstein for $4,000. Later it was operated by his son Lewis Perlstein and and later, in the 1950’s, by Martin Shapiro, Lew’s son-in-law.
Here they made soda from Shirley well water, sugar, carbonation, and flavored syrup. Flavors included grape, lemon-lime, orange, pale dry ginger ale, root beer, birch beer, creme soda, and cola. These were put into returnable glass bottles in several sizes. Some bottles just had the name of the company, with its characteristic Greek E, and maybe the Phoenix bird logo. They would have the name of the flavor on the cap. Others would have the flavor printed right on the bottle. Some bottles were clear while others were green.
After Prohibition was lifted, the company also got into the beer distribution business, eventually becoming the exclusive regional distributor for Schiltz. For awhile, this was a more popular and profitable sales product than the soft drinks.
1937 – The company moved to a new brick building on Ayer Road, previously the Perlstein family land, presently a building belonging to Bemis Company.
1960’s – The soda production was phased out with the machinery going to Polar Corp of Worcester.
By then, Lew’s brother  Shapiro opened a package store on Front Street and the name on the Main Street building was Shirley Package Store.
1979 – Lew Perlstein sold Phoenix Spring Beverage Company  to his son-in-law Martin Shapiro who renamed and operated the distributor Martin Distributing until 1990 when the company was sold.
Although Phoenix beverage bottles can still be found at flea markets, at the Shirley Historical Society Museum, and on eBay, the only part of the business that remains in Shirley is its building.
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