Preserve Robie's: Who will save this landmark?
Robie’s Country Store, the venerable Hooksett landmark that has played host to firefigthers and Presidents, is closing on Sunday. Whether the doors lock permanently could be up to someone who is reading this editorial.
The store, which abuts a rail line overlooking the Merrimack River, has been around for 127 years. It has survived two world wars and the Great Depression. And now, in an age when children have their own cell phones and families spend more than $100 a month for cable television, it might close forever for lack of business. Grabbing a coffee or breakfast with the locals is not what busy families do these days.
The Robie family, which sold the store to a private non-profit, the Robie’s Country Store Preservation Corporation, in 1997, ran the business for five generations. Since then the store has had three operators. The latest are David and Debbie Chouinard, who have run it for the last decade. They are departing, and the preservation corporation is looking for someone to replace them.
“We intend to find another operator as soon as possible,” president Robert Schroeder said.
Pie in the sky? No. Someone will step forward.
Two years ago, the wonderful old Dodge’s Country Store in New Boston closed for similar reasons. Months later Sam and Manisha Patel bought it. They reopened it last year.
The Weare Center Store also closed in 2011. It and Dodge’s had shared an owner, who shut down both. Ali Rustam and his brother Mohammad Nowaz bought and reopened it. It survives even after a fire last year that gutted the store.
Reviving old general stores in the 21st Century can be done. With a place as storied and incomparable as Robie’s, it has to be done. The people of New Hampshire cannot let this landmark fade into history. One of you can do this. Will it be you?