I took a drive up to the old homestead in Andover today, after being away for the better part of 15 years. What a trip down memory lane!
The old neighborhood looks mostly the same, save for a few McMansions that have replaced some original homes.
Of course Philips Academy is still there, with its carefully manicured grounds, as is The Andover Inn (closed for major renovation) and The Andover Shop. I was also pleased to see that the venerable Lantern Brunch was still bustling with diners.
But gone are the days of Dolan's Seafood and the Purple Door. There's a new generation of store fronts in and around Main Street, a few of which rival the tony boutiques in Boston's North End and Beacon Hill. Among the highlights:
Izzy's Emporium. The BEST part of the day! Izzy's has a treasure trove of new and vintage clothing, accessories, and outerwear - all beautifully displayed in a whimsical space covered with ornate wallpaper and chandeliers. There is also a wall dedicated to designer denim - all overstock and marked down 40% from what you'd pay in department stores. And the Izzy's staff - very personable and fun - will assist in finding the perfect fit for you, with alterations available on site. Be sure to check out the vintage section, full of Izzy's ReBorn creations - old world finds that have been lovingly updated with gorgeous new linings and buttons (think gray flannel jacket with tourquoise satin lining and silver & blue buttons).
Dress Code and First Date. These two boutiques have gotten a fair amount of attention in the Boston press, which is what sparked my return to Andover in the first place. They both carry a variety of designer women's clothes and accessories...with price tags that are a bit lower than the Boston shops.
The housewares store whose name escapes me (!). There is a great shop across the street from Ultimate Perk (a cute coffee shop) on Main Street. I've tried to find its name online, but to no avail. I even called Ultimate Perk to ask them, but no one picked up. Ah well, you'll have to find it on your own. It's chock full of furniture, dishes, and other home decor, as well as some jewelry and Vera Bradley bags. Make sure to check out the adorable aprons, too.