What’s the futureof mom-and-pop shops? To judge from recent developments around campus, Mom and Pop better call the kids. This summer the College Hill Bookstore and Harvey Ltd. ended their respective runs of thirty-eight and fifty-five years.
Although national chains have supplanted other businesses on and around Thayer Street in recent years, College Hill Bookstore owner Kenneth Dulgarian says he is closing the store as much for personal as for financial reasons. Founded in 1966 by his parents, Beatrice and Earl ’45, the bookstore, he says, was taking up as many as sixteen hours of his day, some of which he wants to devote to his three young children. “We had a wonderful run,” he says, “but it’s time to put the lid on the coffin.”
Around the corner, at 114 Waterman Street, Harvey Lapides ’50 attributed the closing of Harvey Ltd. to changing fashions and newer shopping preferences. When Lapides and his brother opened the store in December 1949, the Ivy League Look—coats, ties, flannels, and khakis—was de rigueur on College Hill. For decades students, professionals, and Providence mayors shopped at the store, even during the 1970s, when changing fashions forced Lapides to introduce a few polyester double-knit suits to his racks. “I bemoan the way people dress so casually now,” Lapides says. “You go into a bank or law firm and people are in jeans. There’s a loss of dignity because of it.”
Lapides sold Harvey Ltd. in 2002 and stayed on part-time to attend to the store’s regulars until last year. This summer the new owner made the final decision to close. Lapides is saddened, but resigned to the change. “In the final analysis,” he says, “I’m happy I retired.”For the rest of us, the signs taped this summer to the windows of the College Hill Bookstore said it best: “Thanks For the Memories.”