Shirley’s Phoenix Beverage Company
1918 – It was begun by Joseph Blumenthal on Main Street at the site of the current Phoenix Club. Presumably, it was named for the Phoenix Mill area of town, from where the water came.
1930 – It was sold to Hyman Perlstein for $4,000. Later it was operated by his son Lou Perlstein and Martin Shapiro, Lou’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, 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, Martin Shapiro had opened a package store of Front Street and the name on the Main Street building was Martin Distributing Company.
1970’s – 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.