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Hopkins Furniture Going Out of Business

The George M. Hopkins Furniture Store at the bottom of Spring Street is going out of business, and will soon have a “Going Out of Business” liquidation sale.

Hart’s Pharmacy, Goff’s Sports, McClelland Stationers, and the U.S. Post Office are about the only things left on Spring Street from my era (30 years ago). The Williams Co-op burned down; Renzi Books and the Joseph Dewey Bookstore are gone (yes, there were two bookstores on Spring Street in my day); the House of Walsh went out of business; the Williamstown National Bank went through multiple takeovers; the Gulf gas station was razed and gentrified; and Spring Street became one way.

These changes have been going on for years; in the 1930s, Spring Street supported three or four top men’s clothing shops. By the jeans-clad 1970s, they’d all vanished except the House of Walsh. So current students, look around — Spring Street as you know it will be different when you come back for your 25th Reunion.

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#1 Comment By Anonymous On November 30, 2005 @ 12:11 pm

Of course, the only thing that really mattered on Spring St. was the House of Za!

#2 Comment By melissa On November 30, 2005 @ 2:23 pm

Weren’t there two pizza places on Spring Street in the late 70s?

#3 Comment By CalEph On November 30, 2005 @ 3:23 pm

In the early 80’s, there was Colonial Pizza on the west side of Spring Street, towards Morgan Hall. It was known for greasy pizza; normally you would spread paper towels on the top of your pizza to soak up the grease. Apparently there is still a Colonial Pizza in Williamstown, but it is no longer on Spring Street.

There was also Pappa Charlie’s deli on the east side of Spring Street, towards the gym. It was theoretically “take-out” only, and so there were no tables or chairs inside. However, there were lots of windows with low, wide bench-like sills; in practice, you could sit down and eat at the window sill. There were allegedly tax advantages to this arrangement. There were a variety of sandwiches named after celebrities with Williams connections. Apparently Pappa Charlie’s is still there; don’t know if they still have the windowsills or celebrity sandwiches.

#4 Comment By Ronit On November 30, 2005 @ 3:42 pm

Pappa Charlie’s is still around and thriving. No more windowsills (there are indoor benches and outdoor seating during the warmer months). They still have a bewildering array of sandwiches named after famous people.

Colonial Pizza is now located in Colonial Plaza, east on Rt. 2.

I miss Clarksburg Bakery, which closed down in my freshman year. We still have a photo shop (Vermont Color) and coffe shop, though they are no longer in their original buildings. And we have a grocery store now (EphPorium)!

#5 Comment By Aidan On November 30, 2005 @ 4:48 pm

I have two favorite sammiches at Pappa Charlie’s.

1) The Paltrow. A paltry eggplant parm, hold the bun, hold the parm. 7.99. Really bang for the buck.

2) The Christopher Reeve. It slays me, every time, that this is vegetable lasagna.

that is all. For food, I vastly prefer Helen’s Place.

#6 Comment By David On November 30, 2005 @ 5:03 pm

People often ask me about why I started EphBlog. The real answer is that I figured that this was the best shot I had at getting a special sandwich at Papa Charlie’s. For their reference, it should be:

EphBlog: Rare roastbeef with melted swiss cheese, tomatoes and mayonaise on a croissant.

#7 Comment By Loweeel On November 30, 2005 @ 5:07 pm

Ronit, what replaced the Clarksburg Bakery? Was it EphPorium?

Also, I think that it’s a great boon to have some grocery options within walking distance of campus, especially for frosh and others who don’t want to have to deal with the stop’n’shop shuttle.

#8 Comment By Diana On November 30, 2005 @ 5:43 pm

The Clarksburg Bakery is sitting empty now. Ephporium is where Where’d You Get That?! used to be in front of the gym; now WYGT is at the bottom of the street in the new B&L building.

#9 Comment By Ronit On November 30, 2005 @ 6:03 pm

Loweeel: I think it’s a spa/beauty care place now. Or maybe an art gallery. We have another new spa on Water St. in what used to be a condemned building.

There’s a funny new luxurious-looking store at the top of Water St., called the Browns or something. They seem to sell leather belts and cologne.

David: I approve of that sandwich.

The WSO wiki on Off Campus Dining has developed into quite an extensive page of reviews for Billsville restaurants. Feel free to contribute yours.

#10 Comment By Guy Creese ’75 On November 30, 2005 @ 10:29 pm

Before EphPorium it was Where’d You Get That, and before Where’d You Get That it was Joseph Dewey’s Bookstore (with perhaps some other business intervening). Joe was a grouchy sort of fellow, and would announce, “This isn’t a library,” or otherwise look disapproving if he felt you were just browsing and weren’t going to buy anything.

His competitor, Ralph Renzi, was much more amiable. Ralph, a Williams grad, had been the college’s press officer/PR fellow, and knew everyone in town. Renzi’s was I think where Clarksburg Bakery was (midway down Spring Street on the right-hand side). The bookstore was cramped but had all kinds of nooks and crannies in the back where you could curl up and read. It was a very cozy and welcoming store, full of Mayberry moments — Ralph greeting people by name when they came in the store, recommending books that people would like based on their interests, and so on.

Ralph’s daughter Maggie went out with John Sayles, now the well-known film director, but in those days just a tall, lean fellow who looked like he’d come off of a construction site. I remember the bookstore had a large display of John’s first novel, “Pride of the Bimbos,” when it came out in 1975. An autographed first edition is probably worth a few bucks these days. Maggie has produced most of John’s films over the years.

#11 Comment By Kim Daboo ’88 On November 30, 2005 @ 11:10 pm

There was a grocery store in the mid-80s too, The Slippery Banana. Yummy stuff. Really expensive.

Clarksburg Bakery’s “wilderness fantasy” cookie was phenomenal. I have tried to duplicate it, with no success. Anyone have the recipe?

I hear from Jenn Mattern that Chopsticks has sushi now, and that it’s really good.

#12 Comment By Ronit On December 1, 2005 @ 2:55 am

Thai Garden also has sushi now. Sushi right on Spring Street. That’s an improvement.

#13 Comment By Jonathan Landsman On December 5, 2005 @ 6:07 pm

I love food. Eating, and learning where good food is really a hobby of mine. Among everything else I want to do, I have a secret desire to be a short order cook at a place like Papa Charlie’s. I humbly proclaim that I am one of the best sandwich chefs and designers to come out of Williams. When Greylock added their deli lunch option, with about a dozen small plates of rare and fresh fixins ranging from boursin cheese to banana peppers, no one rejoiced more than I.

Kane, you’ve got a good sandwich there. It’s heated, I presume? But not so much you dry the beef. Mayo on a croissant is great, especially heated; it’s like frying a candy bar.

I first decided I was going to comment when I saw people inquiring about the Clarksburg Bakery, but all the food comments made me go astray. But about Clarksburg: it shut down I believe over the summer of 2004. My interesting news is that I happen to know where the owner ended up: she works in a bakery with my friend Vivian Schoung ’05 in upstate New York. Ghent is the town name that comes to mind.

The bakery was well loved — I was a fan of the millet muffins, and bought a few dozen for Forest Garden work breafasts in my time — but the rumor I heard was that she was simply an awful businesswoman. Also, the Bakery was on the side of the street that I believe the College does not play landlord for . . . you may notice, for this reason, a higher turnover on one side of the street than on the other, as the College is an unusually benevolent landlord so as to keep dark windows of the town street.

#14 Comment By frank uible On December 5, 2005 @ 7:07 pm

David: To be appropriately analogous the Ephblog sandwich should contain far more indigestible but filling flatulent (along with the maximum quantity of rat fesces permitted by the FDA) and far less comestible substance than you have suggested.