It’s a day gone by, a trusted time before Walmart, Best Buy and their brethren big box stores began squeezing out “the little guy.” I’m talking about a time before banks, real estate offices, chic-chic restaurants and nail salons descended seemingly en masse, dotting the store fronts along Main Street. It was a time before stores went in and out of business before they paid their second month’s rent. If you needed groceries in that day long passed, or a prescription filled, or paint for that special weekend project, Andover had just the right store.
You’d find yourself downtown on Main Street in a mom & pop establishment, a family affair that had likely been there for decades. You’d been there a thousand times before. The folks who worked there knew you - and you knew them. Heck, their family and yours likely knew one another for generations.
For those of you who have walked down Main Street for more years than you care to count, you know exactly what I mean. Close your eyes and the names of the stores come flooding back – Sutherland’s, Woolworth’s, Reinhold’s, and Elander & Swanton. Ford’s Coffee Shop welcomed you and your neighbors with hot coffee and warm conversation for 40 years and just across Main Street on Essex the Colonial Theater stood on what today is the parking lot behind Memorial Hall library.
Right here in town you could even look for a good used car on Park Street where Clark Motor Company (Chrysler-Plymouth) and J. W. Robinson’s (Dodge) held court – and there was a Ford dealer down in Shawsheen, too. These businesses, and so many others like them, were a large part of the enduring charm and character of Andover. They made our town special and unique from all others.