This article was updated on Friday, Aug. 19, 2016 at 12:52 p.m. to include a link to Krawczyk's column.
BENNINGTON — The owner of Evans' News says he has decided to close the business' Main Street retail store.
"While this has been a long process of thought, analysis and soul searching, I feel as if the time is right for this next step in the life of Evans' News," George Krawczyk states in a guest column submitted to the Bennington Banner on Thursday. The full column was published in Friday's edition of the Banner.
Krawczyk's column states that operations will continue in the Manchester Center location — Evans' Inc. is located in the Green Mountain Village Shops on Main Street. And the corporation will continue fulfilling services for its commercial accounts at 434 Main St. in Bennington.
In an interview with the Banner, Krawczyk said that he's enjoyed nearly every aspect of the business since he bought it almost 40 years ago. But it's been the people — the regular customers, the downtown business owners, the tourists, and others — that he's enjoyed the most.
"I really developed close relationships with my customers over the years," Krawczyk said at the store on Thursday.
Krawczyk said he doesn't have plans to sell the Main Street building that he owns. He said he does plan to build two apartments in the building.
The business will turn 120 years old next year and has always had a storefront somewhere on Main Street. The store's namesake, Joseph Evans, founded it in 1897 and sold an eclectic mix of items, from office supplies, pens, paper, newspapers, and even shoes and pianos. The store in recent years is still known for having an extensive selection of office supplies, as well as Vermont maple products, gifts and souvenirs.
Krawczyk was 15 years old when he started in the business' office supply and furniture department. At the time, the store held space in what was most recently Rehm-Brandt Design. After graduating Saint Joseph College, now Southern Vermont College, he moved into typewriter and copier repair. He bought the business in the late 1970s. Evans' moved to its current home at 434 Main St. in 1998, when Krawczyk bought that building. He opened the Manchester store around the same time. He's worked closely with his brother David, who is manager of the Manchester store.
Krawczyk has been active with local Chamber of Commerce activities. One wall of the store holds awards and accolades he's received throughout the years.
It's a business that came with a lot of history. Advertisements at one time promoted that the store's gas lights allowed customers to shop after dark, according to Judith Pennock, office manager. Krawczyk said Evans' was once one of the biggest newspaper distributors in the region.
It's also a business that can elicit feelings of nostalgia. Pennock, who has been with the store for 17 years, recalled the story most-told by customers: "Men will come in and say, 'I came here when I was a child and bought a Matchbox car with my dad.'"
Krawczyk has tucked away numerous pictures of the store, old advertisements, and even vintage items. Some, he's collected himself.
"A lot of people bring me things that they had — old newspaper clippings, photos. Someone brought in a box of paper clips with an Evans' sticker and two-cent price tag," he said. "The list goes on."
One customer brought in a postcard Evans' News published of the Vermont Soldiers Home, now known as the Vermont Veterans' Home. Postmarked 1906, it's in near-mint condition.
"Things like this surface all the time," he said.
Another customer purchased a Santa Claus decoration decades ago and found it while cleaning out her attic.
"It's really interesting to me," Krawczyk said. "I've been here for 50 years. A lot of stuff that came out when I started here, I could have put out on the floor and priced."
His column states: "We will truly miss the day to day interactions with our friends, neighbours and colleagues, but none of us is going anywhere and we will continue to serve you, work on community events, and see you downtown."
Contact Ed Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.