FRAMINGHAM, MA- Nobody can blame Paul Ashton, he's made more of an effort than most to keep the small business he operates in the Nobscot Shopping Center alive -- waiting, hoping for an economic rebound, or at least some signs of life.
On Thursday July 28th, Ashton, owner of Annie's Book Stop & Espresso Paulo sent out a press release, regretfully announcing he is closing up shop.
Although he hasn't set an exact closing date, starting Friday, July 29th, he will be holding an "Everything Must Go" sale.
In his press release, Ashton commented, "Obviously I feel quite sad about this. The book store has been in this plaza for over 20 years, and I have owned it since 2000. As other booksellers, both new and used, have found, book-buyer habits have changed significantly in recent years."
Citing recent trends in online shopping, Ashton went on to explain that, "Competitively priced books can be located online, easily, from the comfort of one's own fireside, and are delivered to one's home in a couple of days.", and noted "Fewer people seem to want or are able to spend time browsing the bookshelves to serendipitously find books of interest."
Aside from the availability of traditional printed books online, in May of 2011 Amazon.com reported that sales of eBooks, (electronic books), had surpassed printed book sales for the first time in history.
In addition to competition from online book-sellers, Ashton also lamented that roadwork in the Nobscot section of town where his shop is located has also been a factor, saying, "the fact that the town dug up the road outside three years in a row probably didn't help either."
Ashton had actually made a Herculean effort to keep the shop and the shopping center alive.
In addition to selling books, in the years since Ashton took over Annie's he expanded to sell espresso and pastries, provided a small meeting area in the coffee shop for community events, and promoted part of the establishment as the "Nobscot Gallery" where he hosted art shows and photography exhibits of local's works.
At the opposite end of the shopping center from Annie's, the anchor store which used to be a "Star Market" grocery store has been closed for nearly a decade.
The three storefronts next to the vacant grocery store at one time housed a dry cleaner, a self-serve laundromat and a children's clothing store have also been vacant for several years.
CVS Pharmacy, Nobscot Pizza, Sabrina Wong (Chinese Restaurant) and Trinity Optical are still open for business, but with approximately 50% of the smaller retail spaces in the plaza unoccupied, the plaza is not much of a shopping destination or the neighborhood amenity it once was.
To make matters worse, the TD Bank next to Annie's will likely close soon when a new, larger TD Bank (currently under construction) is completed and opens on the corner of Water Street and Edmands Road.
While the economy, road construction and other factors play into the demise of several small businesses in the Nobscot Shopping Center, residents, Town of Framingham officials and other interested parties have pointed fingers squarely at the out-of -town landlords of the strip mall, (Centercorp Retail Properties, Inc., 600 Loring Ave, Salem, MA 01970, Phone: 978-741-4740 and its principals and leasing agent Mark Klaman, Andrew B. Rose and Sarah Klaman), for not keeping the property up to date, failing to secure suitable tenants, letting the parking lot, signage and lighting fall into disrepair, and generally ignoring all inquiries about the ailing, aging shopping center which they've owned and operated since May of 2000.
Aside from the store's inventory, Ashton will be selling the retail display cases, coffee service equipment and other furnishings.
Annie's Book Stop / Espresso Paulo and the Nobscot Gallery are located at 774 Water Street, Framingham, MA 01701. For additional in info, contact owner Paul Ashton at (508) 877-1891 or by email to: email@example.com