Longtime real estate broker Mikki Chaffee recalled how different the center once was. Downtown used to be one-stop shopping,” Chaffee said. “There were clothes, shoes, office supplies, a hardware store, and an IGA grocery store.”
She lamented those businesses are long gone. “Now, I suppose I could go downtown for lunch.”
Local history buff James Baker sees a similarly bleak picture of today’s downtown. “It has restaurants and pawn shops, and that’s about it,” he said.
Baker nevertheless had a good word for Pilgrim’s Progress, saying: “It’s one of the surviving quality stores in downtown, one that has something different to offer.”
“The downtown has its ebb and flow, and we ride the waves,” Marie said. “We pay attention to inventory and keep costs down. We run a tight ship.”
The store also enjoys a healthy base of faithful customers, who return knowing they’ll always find what they’re looking for. “We know what’s in their closets, so we can match that to what we have here,” Marie said.
Peter said men generally don’t enjoy shopping. “We try to make customers comfortable,” he said. “We provide something updated, but still within our customer’s comfort level.”
Denis Hanks, executive director of the Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce, said Pilgrim’s Progress Clothing is a major contributor to downtown vitality.
“Over the years, they’ve always brought a positive attitude to the downtown, and they’ve brought a lot of business,” Hanks said. “They are our anchor.”
The five Brigida siblings all raised families while running the store. Today Laura has 20 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren. Over the years, family members have weathered personal ups and downs together. In 2003, Jayne lost her 18-year-old son.
“My family saw me through that trauma and continues to see me through,” she said.
Laura, meanwhile, has worked shoulder-to-shoulder with her children and even at 89 continues to be a constant presence at the store.
“She’s very interested and very engaged,” Peter said. “She’s still cool.”
The Brigidas count Renee Ferazzi, who has worked with them at the store for all 35 years, one of the family. “She’s our surrogate sister; valued and well loved,” Jayne said.
For Joyce, the store has turned out to be the best career she could have imagined.
“It’s been a joy working with them,” she said. “I can’t imagine better colleagues.”
Christine Legere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.