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V.A. Anderson Clothing & Shoes closing its doors in Princeton

PRINCETON — A longtime business with roots going back to 1900 in Bureau County will be closing its doors.

Donald and Mary Lou Anderson plan on closing V.A. Anderson Clothing and Shoes Store at 930 N. Main St. in Princeton when the building sells.

“It is time to stay home with my two cats and a dog,” said Donald Anderson, who is 83 years old and the third generation of Andersons to own the store.

Anderson’s grandfather, Peter J. Anderson, started the business in 1900 in Manlius with his wife, Addie. He moved it to Princeton in 1923 and ran the store with Donald’s father, Virgil A. Anderson. Peter Anderson died in 1940, and Virgil Anderson died in 1950 when he was just 49 years old.

Donald Anderson has been involved in the store since he was a little child.

“It is a family-run business, the way it used to be. Real pleasing life. I said I have never had to work a day in my life because I always went to the store,” he said.

“There is no need for this type of business anymore with all the other big stores. We are a full-service clothing store,” he said. “We offer alterations. It is a sad situation. It is a sign of the changing time.”

Donald Anderson has been married for 35 years to Mary Lou Anderson, who has helped him run the store.

“She is the best thing that ever happened to me,” he said. “We were neighbors and knew each other. She took care of her dad who had cancer, and I took care of my mother until she died in 1977.”

Anderson remembers when the store had three clerks working there as well as several family members.

With the economy the way it is today, Anderson said he can’t compete with other stores. “We used to go to Chicago to buy things for our store,” he said. “We can’t do that today.”

Anderson said he will miss not coming to work six days a week, but he looks forward to getting things done at home during his retirement years.

Anderson said he is closing the store due to his age and people not wearing the style of clothes the store is designed to sell.

“We helped people buy their shoes and measure their feet,” he said. “We would also shorten pants ... I enjoyed meeting and talking with people who came to the store.”

Anderson has some fond memories of the store dating back to his childhood when he watched a former bank building being torn down across Main Street.

“I also remember having to close the store when gypsies came to Princeton because it if you didn’t, they would come in and rob you blind,” he said.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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