Last week, “06880” reported on the pending move of Achorn’s Pharmacy, from its longtime home on Main Street to Playhouse Square.
Readers, naturally, commented on every angle, from the changing face of downtown to the tax rates in Vermont.
But one set of voices was not heard: anyone associated with Achorn’s.
Now, enjoy these insights from Alan Bravin, son of the store’s longtime owner, Murray Bravin.
When I heard that Achorn’s Pharmacy was moving from Main Street, I wasn’t sure how I felt. At first it didn’t really sink in since I haven’t lived in town since 1977, and also since my dad sold the store in the early 1990s. But in the few days since I found out, I’ve reflected back on the years that Achorn’s was owned by the Bravin family.
I was 3 years old when we moved from Brooklyn to Westport, and into our home at 3 Silverbrook Road. I didn’t understand it at the time, but now I realize how lucky our family was.
My dad Murray, along with his dad Henry, had bought Achorn’s Pharmacy in 1956. As I grew up, I’m not sure I fully appreciated how great a place Main Street was. Next door was Gristede’s; across the street was the Remarkable Book Shop, Westport Pizzeria and Osca’rs, and down the street was Klein’s and the YMCA, where I spent many days playing billiards, badminton and basketball.
At the end of Main Street at the Post Road was Ships, which to this day made the best seafood bisque I’ve ever had. It seemed everyone knew everyone. Main Street was indeed a community of its own.
I remember getting Hanukah/Christmas gifts from the store — simple things like Scotch tape, staples, gold chocolate coins, etc. I was happy to have them all. Imagine giving kids gifts like that today, instead of an iPhone or iPad or Xbox or Wii. The world sure has changed. And so has Main Street.
I did many things at Achorn’s when I was old enough. Anything from stock boy to delivery boy, cleaning up, running over to Oscar’s to pick up lunch for everyone, or working behind the counter processing credit cards the old fashioned way (running them through a machine to make an imprint of the credit card).
Big sellers at the store were cigarettes, cigars, Timex watches and camera film. I imagine they aren’t such big sellers today.
I remember meeting Paul Newman, who came into the store one day when I was there. But I mostly remember my hero, my dad Murray Bravin.
In the nearly 4 years since my dad’s passing, I’ve run into several people who knew and admired him. The time that affected me the most was when I played golf a few years ago in Southern California. I went by myself, and was paired up with an older man I had never met.
We chatted, one thing led to another, and he told me he lived in Westport in the ’80s and ’90’s. I asked him if he ever went to Achorn’s. He said he went there all the time. When I told him that was my dad’s store he paused, looked at me and said, “Are you serious? Murray is your father?”
He said they had lunch on several occasions, and how much they liked each other. The rest of the golf round was fantastic conversation.
No one admired my dad more than me. He was kind and a very generous man. The stories I’ve heard make me feel even more proud to be his son. I don’t think it was random that I ended up on the Apaches Little League team that was proudly sponsored by Achorn’s Pharmacy.
I saw Pamela Sue Martin at our 10-year Staples reunion in 1981. Pamela worked at Achorn’s when she was at Staples. I asked if she was interested in getting her old job back behind the counter. She just smiled. She already had a day job that was paying her sufficiently. Something to do with playing Fallon, a regular character on “Dynasty” at the time. I doubt minimum wage (or slightly above) could compete with that.
I think back on the day that Achorn’s entered the computer world for inventory and re-ordering. Dad resisted the effort, but was finally convinced to convert. After a rough transition period, it made his life so much easier. I remember the long hours my dad put in at Achorn’s, standing on his feet all day waiting on customers, filling prescriptions and listening to their stories, checking inventory, cleaning up. Making emergency free deliveries in the middle of the night to get people prescriptions they needed right away. He loved all of it.
I’m glad that Achorn’s is moving from Main Street. For me personally, it will never be the same as it once was. It is the end of an era.