News

Town tradition comes to an end

Thursday, September 1, 2011

By MICHAEL CLEVELAND

Staff Writer

NEW BOSTON – Shortly after noon on Monday, car after car, pickup truck after pickup truck, pulled into the small parking lot in front of Dodge’s Store, drivers looking for lunch or coffee or a newspaper.

What they got was a surprise: Dodge’s store, a fixture in this small town, was closed.

Permanently.

And it wasn’t alone. Apparently Mike Danzinger, who owns the New Boston store, has also closed his stores in Weare and Salem, but he could not be reached for comment.

In New Boston, often the first word out of people’s mouths was: “Wow.”

They just couldn’t believe it.

Vincent Cambria, who lives just down the road, tried the door before he noticed the sign announcing its closing. The door was locked.

“Oh, my God,” Cambria said. “they’re closed. I come here every day to get the New York Times.”

He didn’t get to read his paper, but what he got to read was the sign on the door:

“It is with great sadness that we announce the permanent closing of Dodge’s store effective immediately. To our loyal customers, suppliers, and friends, we say a heart felt ‘Thank You.’ We will miss you all.”

Possibly not as much as people will miss the store.

Rich Ayotte of New Boston had just come in from Canada, came to the store, tried the door, read the sign, and called the closing, “a disaster, basically,” and said it was “a wicked surprise.””

He said the store would be missed “big time.”

Jane Byam of New Boston drove up with her daughter but could see people couldn’t get in and stayed in her car.

“I’m weeping,” she said. “It’s been a fixture in town for as long as I can remember.”

Byam said she would often come to the store for a sub sandwich, milk or ice, and said she remembered reading about the closing of the Mont Vernon Village Store and feeling sad for the people of that town.

There is hope in Mont Vernon, at least, where a couple from Massachusetts is renovating the building and anticipating opening fairly soon. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Dodge’s, though.

“It’s awful, really sad,” Byam said. “It’s almost like somebody died.”

Across the road in Town Hall, Town Clerk Irene Baudreau said she’d heard of the closing third hand from someone who’d come into the building.

“I know it will be missed. That’s where we go for our sandwiches,” she said, referring to town employees. “It is surprising.”

Especially because, perhaps, the store was open and doing business on Sunday as Hurricane Irene approached.

Jon van de Car of New Boston was there getting a few things.

“The shelves were a little light,” he said, “but I figured that was because people had shopped for the storm. But there was coffee and newspapers.”

According to Wikipedia, Dodge’s Store was established in 1872 and was owned and operated by five generations of the Dodge family until 1994. Clarence H. Dodge started the family business, and ownership remained in the Dodge family until Malcom J. Dodge sold the business in 1994 due to a downturn in the economy.

Seventeen years later, the store shut down again, possibly this time, as the sign said, “permanently.”

“This is an institution,” Vincent Cambria said. “You can’t close an institution.”

Apparently, you can.

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