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Square’s Andover Shop Up for Sale

By Henry W. Burnes and Franklin R. Civantos, Crimson Staff Writers

The Andover Shop—a Harvard Square staple selling menswear and formal attire—is up for sale after 65 years on Holyoke Street and 70 years in Andover, Mass.

Store owners Charlie Davidson and Virgil Marson will be selling the shop and the property that it occupies in the coming months, with the hope that new owners will keep the brand alive.

The Holyoke Street store is one of two locations of the Andover Shop. The store’s first location, operated by Davidson’s brother-in-law Virgil Marson and located in namesake Andover, Mass., is also up for sale. Cambridge store manager Lawrence D. Mahoney said they are working to attract a buyer that will keep both stores open and maintain the Andover Shop brand and tradition.

The Andover Shop has been a Harvard Square staple since 1953 and a go-to formal wear shop for generations of Harvard students and Cantabrigians. Mahoney said he believes the community the store has developed over the past 65 years is a main reason that its new owners would benefit from continuing the brand.

“We have relationships with our customers and they are really members of an extended family; you know, multigenerational,” Mahoney said. “There’s definitely community.”

One customer, who had stopped in the store to talk to Mahoney, said he has been shopping at the Andover Shop since attending Harvard in the mid-1970s.

Mahoney also remarked on the store’s collection of well-known customers.

“It’s a very unique place in that you can come in and be buying a pair of pants next to a former Supreme Court justice or world-class cellist,” Mahoney said.

The Andover Shop has faced significant challenges in recent years due to Harvard’s ongoing construction of the Smith Campus Center right across the street.

According to Mahoney, road closures from the construction over the last two and a half years have hurt the store’s sales. He said these challenges contributed to the decision to sell the stores.

“Street traffic has been reduced significantly and that’s had a negative effect,” Mahoney said. “Harvard has not been a good neighbor through the whole process.”

Mahoney said Harvard was required to reimburse the City of Cambridge for its lost parking meter revenue.

“Which for me sets a standard that says they should compensate the businesses for the lost revenues,” Mahoney said.

A Harvard spokesperson declined to comment on the Andover Shop specifically, but emphasized that the University has made ongoing efforts to minimize the impact of construction on local streets and businesses by keeping sidewalks open and providing ample signage.

Other Holyoke Street businesses have also faced challenges due to disruptive construction. Mediterranean restaurant En Boca closed its doors in June 2017—just eight months after opening—due to frustrations with the ongoing construction. En Boca has since sued Harvard for “breach of contract, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, nuisance” and other violations related to the renovation process.

Harvard spokesperson Brigid O’Rourke wrote in an emailed statement that when the Smith Campus Center opens, it will likely bolster business in the area.

“The enhanced public spaces, new local retail tenants, and diverse programming will ensure that the Smith Center becomes a destination that attracts additional visitors and residents to the area,” O’Rourke wrote.

—Staff writer Henry W. Burnes can be reached at henry.burnes@thecrimson.com.

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