By Juliana Tran         

As a sign of the times, three businesses — J. Coombs, Stride Rite, and Sotherland & Co Rugs store — are closing down in Andover.

The two shoe stores (J. Coombs and Stride Rite) are closing as a result of downsizing at their corporations, which means laying off workers and closing down underperforming store locations.

Having no shoe stores in Andover is very damaging to the Andover community because there will be fewer stores for people to shop in and this further demonstrates the ongoing economic recession and changing consumer preference.  Imagine driving down Main Street and seeing vacant signs or closing signs. If that is the case, the livelihood of Andover is impacted.

These days, many people prefer the mall over a store in Andover. In their opinion, the mall has a larger selection of better-quality shoe brands. J.Coombs might not look like it has a lot of good quality shoe brands, but if you visited the store, you would be surprised to learn that they carry Uggs, Emus, and a variety of men’s and ladies’ shoes. It is also a shame to see a similar fate at Stride Rite.  I do not understand why people would want to go to the mall rather than a 5- or 10-minute drive to J.Coombs in downtown Andover to purchase similar types of shoes.

I find it extremely sad to see these Andover stores closing because I remember going to Stride Rite when I was a little girl with my mother to buy ballet shoes. I also remember a playroom with a TV for the little kids and the excellent customer service. Even though conditions in Andover are better than the average Massachusetts cities and towns, this phenomenon proves that Andover is not immune to the economic recession.

These stores are closing because of the lack of support. If you can, you should visit these stores for the last time before January 24 when they close for good. Hurry, before it is too late!