For 30 years, Andover Gift Shop, has been a fixture in Andover center. The shop has been at its current location for 22 years and previous to that, it was located around the corner on Post Office Avenue.
It was the go-to store for unusual gifts for every occasion. An array of candles, handcrafted jewelry, wall hangings, glass balls, local crafts, clothes, scarves, scented oils and incense filled the store from the floor to the ceiling.
Owner Debbie Lane Dale has a straightforward and simple reason for closing. She now live three hours away in Berlin, New Hampshire. The former Andover resident grew up there. While returning to attend a class reunion, she reconnected with Gordon Dale, who she married this past summer. “He was one of my best friends and my son’s godfather,” she explained. She also has elderly family living in Berlin.
As a store owner, Dale enjoyed going on buying trips to New York “I don’t have the same interest I had years ago, and my priorities have changed.”
In fact, her priorities shifted when her late husband suffered and died from cancer in 2008. A survivor of cancer herself, Dale realized that family is most important. “It’s all about family and loved ones,” she said.
During the past year, Dale only traveled a couple days a week to the store. “If I’m not there working, making a profit is more difficult,” she explained.
Her employees, some who have been with Dale for since they were 15, are either graduate students or teachers. “The girls are so wonderful, and I will miss working with them,” she said.
Brittany Bateman, 21, Ackerson, NH, has worked there for 6 years. She said while it was sad the store was closing, it was Dale’s turn to relax and enjoy family.
Dale said that business has been insane, since the closing was initially announced in November. She remarked that when she is there, her customers give her hugs and thank her. “It is very flattering and sweet,” she said.
Bateman said that people have been coming in to the store asking why it is closing. Some of them are sad and reminisce about how they brought their children to the store, and how they had looked forward to bringing their grandchildren there.
Although Dale will miss her customers, she plans to visit Andover because her son is in the process of buying her house. She said she looks forward to being here with her children and grandchildren over Christmas.
An artist of jewelry and scarves, Dale has begun selling her items at farmers markets. “I need the interaction of people,” she explained. She will also take part in Castleberry Craft Fair at Rockingham Park on December 7,8 and 9. “I know I will see a lot of my customers there,” she said. Since moving north, Dale now crafts terrariums, which she will also display there.
All items in the store have been marked down to 30%. The discount, according to Dale will increase to 50% beginning December 17. She said she plans to be in the store full-time from December 19 until it closes.
While it is uncertain what business will be moving into the space, Dale believes it is the "best location." She also commented on the nice variety of stores that have recently moved to Main Street. “The downtown is looking good," she said.
Andover Gift Shop is open Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm, Sat, 9am-5:30pm, and Sun, 12noon-5pm. The phone number is 978-470-2445.