Time rolls on, all of life changing, growing, evolving, dying off. But the feeling of the substance is often sameness — another day, another dollar, another kid late for school. And every now and then things come along that refocus the attention — prompting a little more thought, a moment of feeling, a sense of the breeze rushing by.
That’s how many Ridgefielders reacted to the news of the closing in the next couple of weeks of Ancona’s Market, a family-owned and operated enterprise that had been doing business in town — and had served as a foundation stone of Branchville’s business community — for 93 years.
The Anconas’ family story seems a local re-telling of American tale of immigration and success and change. The late Joseph Ancona came from Sicily in 1912, and began doing what he could to make some money, survive in his new homeland. Within eight years he was in the simple vital business of selling people what they need every day. Over the years he brought his children into the operation and the family businesses continued to succeed, and blossom. Grandchildren joined the family enterprise, but they also had their own dreams and ambitions.
The story is also one of changing environments. In the nine decades since the first Ancona store opened in Branchville, the automobile changed the way Americans live and work and shop. The economy has become increasingly corporate, regional, national — less local, less family-owned.
A member of Ancona family’s third generation stood in the market Monday, talking to a customer. Asked about the situation, the customer used the word “sad.” The family member used the word “optimistic.”
Ancona’s Market will be missed by many people — customers, other Branchville business owners, employees.
But the family, and Branchville, will continue on — surviving, changing, growing and, if the past is any indication, thriving.