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Danvers News Store closes its doors for good after more than 60 years

Posted by Ryan Mooney  September 25, 2012 01:53 PM

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Photos by Ryan Mooney

David Robinson, 21, has been working at the Danvers News Store for less than three years, only a blink in the store's 60-plus-year history, but he is sad to see it go.

The times they are a-changin'.

It's been nearly five decades since Bob Dylan uttered those words on track for his third studio album, and it still rings true today.

It's to the changin' times that David Wensley attributes the difficult decision to shut the doors for good Tuesday on the Danvers News Store, a staple in downtown Danvers for more than six decades.

"This has been something that's been happening...the magazine business has just continued to decrease," said Wensley, financial controller for the North Shore News, the newspaper distributor that has owned the store. The Danvers News Store was the last of eight bookstores and newsstands that the company has shutdown in the past 10 years. Most recently the company had closed Fowle's newsstand in Newburyport in March.

"People don't by magazines...they get their information online, through television, and magazines have just sold less. So it's something where we've fazed out our retail stores over time."

Joseph Caruso owned the Danvers News Store, standing on the corner of Cottage Avenue and Maple Street, from the 1940s until he passed away in 1964, and his family ran it for another decade before selling it to North Shore News.

The neon glow in the window said "open" on Tuesday afternoon, but the empty cigarette case and nearly barren shelves inside said otherwise. A handwritten sign hanging on the front door thanked customers for the years of patronage.

"It's sad, it's just sad," said John Robinson, who has managed the store for about the last three years. "A lot of sad faces coming and going the past couple of weeks."

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A handwritten sign on the door alerted customers to the closing of the Danvers News Store...

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...and the empty shelves inside confirmed the end of an era.

Robinson's son, David, stood behind the counter next to the empty case that once held lottery tickets and described long-time customers he had become friendly with in his time as a clerk over the last two-and-a-half years.

"I've had regulars that have been coming in since before I was alive," he said. "They usually fill up my barrels with losing scratch tickets, but they've been pretty much the gist of my business...it's really unfortunate that all this has to come to an end."

One man, who requested to remain anonymous, stopped by and described his time working as a paperboy for the distribution operation out of the backroom 50 some-odd years ago.

"I heard they were closing, so I figured I'd get some lottery tickets and maybe get lucky on the last day," he said with a laugh. "It didn't happen."

He described working for the Caruso family, and the day-trips Joe used to put together for the paperboys to go see the Bruins and Red Sox play.

"It was really cool," he said.

"We've had several people come back over the years," to reminisce, Robinson said.

Robinson doesn't see one particular reason for the downfall of old-fashioned newsstands, but rather a perfect storm of new technology, rising prices and other factors beyond the control of business owners.

"You can probably point to a lot of things. The economy, the increase in prices of the products," Robinson said. "It was different when the paper was a quarter, all the old-timers will tell you.

"Everyone's got a handheld device, you've got your apps for everything now...it's multiple things."

Ryan Mooney can be reached at globe.mooney@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @mooney_ryan.

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