Judy Wakefield Staff Writer
The Andover Townsman
---- — The Andover Gift Shop — a long-running popular store for kids and adults with well-priced, eclectic inventory — will close at the end of the year.
With its prime business location on Main Street near the corner of Post Office Avenue, it’s a retail spot to die for. No one knows that better than the current tenant.
Debbie Lane has run The Andover Gift Shop for over 20 years there.
“The space, with the nearby (traffic) lights, the big window and the visibility, was just spectacular,” Lane said. “I dreamed about the space a lot before I got it.”
For eight years, her shop was around the corner on Post Office Avenue. But 22 years ago, when the former tenant, Kitchen Concepts, left Main Street, Lane moved her business to what for her was a dreamy location at 4 Main St.
“I just loved it there...especially my customers. So many of them pushed carriages and cute babies to my store. I watched those babies grow up and now they have babies,” she said. “That’s what I will miss most. I loved my customers with all my heart.”
But life has a tendency to just happen, she said, and she now lives three hours away in New Hampshire.
“It’s just time to do this. But I am going to miss it,” she said.
Her life has certainly had its ups and downs. A cancer survivor, she also stood by her husband as he suffered from the often deadly disease. He passed away in February 2008.
But she found love again. She returned to her hometown of Berlin, N.H. for a class reunion and reconnected with Gordon Dale, a dear friend who is also her son’s godfather. She married Gordon last July.
The couple lives in Berlin, N.H., which is about a three-hour drive from Andover. That long commute is the key part of the reason why she is closing her shop, she said. She now relies on staffers for coverage as she only comes to her shop a few times a week.
A son has been renting her house in Andover and will soon buy it while her two other children and three grandchildren are also keeping her busy these days.
“Thirty years is a long time and it’s just time to do something else,” she said.
She said she has no idea what business will take over her spot at 4 Main St. The building is owned by Karen Simeone. Bud Simeone, Karen Simeone’s father and Lane’s previous landlord, said Lane will be missed downtown.
“I feel honored that she’s been here for so many years and hopefully we’ll always be great friends,” he said.
Crafty and artsy, she’s been selling items at farmers markets and made the juried cut to take part in next month’s Castleberry Faire at Rockingham Park in Salem, N.H.
“It’s been great to watch Main Street change over the years, she said, adding it currently is “vibrant and looking real good.”