Many years ago, developer Gabe Silverman told me that he was very worried that A&N might leave downtown. I didn’t understand his concern for a big national chain, so he explained that A&N provided clothing and similar staples for low-income families downtown — there was no other place downtown since Woolworth’s had gone under. If it left, it would be yet another small blow for downtown working-class Charlottesvillians.
So today was I disappointed, but not surprised, to see that A&N’s storefront was empty, with signs up indicating that December 31 was their last day at the location, directing people to their other two locations in town. I was further surprised to visit their website and read their history. A&N was founded in 1868, immediately after the Civil War, by a Richmond couple, Mark and Lena Rose Sternheimer. Today the business is run by Mark Sternheimer and his son, Ross. They have 53 locations (well…52), all of which are in Virginia.
And now A&N is gone from downtown, in some small part because I never supported it, because I figured they were some multinational conglomerate. I suck.