CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — For 18 years, Anges Ellingwood watched the downtown world from a squat white and green building tucked in the shadow of the old Concord Theatre.
The storefront at 18½ S. Main St. may not be what you consider a typical “iconic” Concord building — it doesn’t have the grandeur of the Acquilla building, where Pitchfork Records resides, or the sweeping glass and brick exterior of the Capital Commons. It certainly doesn’t function like the State House, whose golden dome can be used as a North Star to the downtown from miles away.
But the building, most recently home to Ellingwood’s L&B Tailoring & Alterations, has been home to many a Capital City business. It’s been a diner and a pet shop and a consignment store. At one point, Constantly Pizza operated out of its narrow back, Ellingwood said.
The building even survived the Main Street renovation with Ellingwood’s business still in it, despite the bite the project took out of her bottom line.
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But Main Street will soon lose this little building to the march of progress. It’s bundled in with the properties developer Steve Duprey bought last year for $435,000, including the old Concord Theatre, which he and the Capitol Center for the Arts plan to revive. And when construction starts on the site in June, it’ll be coming down.
It’s a sad thought for Ellingwood, who in February left the building where she worked for almost two decades. She bought the business from the previous owners just 11 months after her battle with breast cancer and kept her business in Concord even when she moved to New Durham from Pittsfield, almost doubling her commute time.
“I can’t even begin to count how many people I’ve seen come through here,” she said, pointing out a wall of women in wedding dresses she’s hemmed. “I could wallpaper this place with all the people who have come through.”
L&B Tailoring — which used to stand for “Lorraine and Bill,” the previous owners (it now stands for “Love and Blessings”) — is now located on Perley Street. There are perks to the spot, Ellingwood said, like plentiful, free parking and less traffic noise. And her clientele has not been shaken by the location change, she said.
Sometimes she misses the bustle and flow of downtown life.
“People used to find a place to park their car, get a muffin and a newspaper and walk before going to work,” Ellingwood said. “I don’t have that foot traffic anymore and I miss it. … People would walk by and say, ‘I don’t have anything today, I just wanted to say hi.’ “
But moving off Main Street was scary, Ellingwood said, especially after weathering the downtown revitalization project. Like many Main Street businesses, L&B Tailoring’s bottom line suffered during the project’s two-year life span. And like other downtown businesses, Ellingwood said she garnered a fair amount of business from foot traffic.
Her landlord first mentioned the building might be sold in 2016, Ellingwood said. She spent a year holding her breath until Duprey closed on the property late last year. She found out in January.
“It stressed me right out,” she recalled.
Ellingwood said she initially wanted to find another downtown spot, but found the monthly rentals rates — ranging from $1,200 to $2,000, she said — to be almost double what she was paying at 18½ S. Main St. She worried, too, about losing such a visible locale and settling into a new one right as her busiest season, high school prom, was approaching.
But like other Concord institutions, Ellingwood said, she thinks she’ll survive the transition and is excited to see what the new Concord Theatre will bring to the downtown.
She just won’t get to watch it happen from her storefront window.
Information from: Concord Monitor, http://www.concordmonitor.com