Saturday May 4, 2013

ZEKE WRIGHT

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- Evans' News has been in business continually since 1897, then and today primarily as an office products supply store -- but it's not just about paper. The store's namesake and original owner, Joseph Evans, sold office supplies, pens, newspapers "and shoes and pianos," according to Judy Pennock, a longtime former employee who now volunteers her time at the 434 Main St. business.

The office supply and general store is one of the oldest continuous businesses downtown, among few others on a list that includes Wills Insurance, Bennington Bookshop, Shea Family Funeral Homes, and H. Greenberg & Son.

"Evans' was one of the first stores to offer interior gas lighting, so people could shop in the dark," Pennock said. "He was ahead of his time."

Country store atmosphere

That forward-thinking extends to current owner George Krawczyk and the store's ever-changing range of goods, which Pennock describes as "the smallest office products on up to everything you could possibly want in a country store atmosphere."

An evolving menagerie of mostly Vermont goods -- including seasonal gifts and maple products, Bennington Candles, and the latest items involving moose or catamount promotions from the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce -- the newest merchandise in stock is corn on the cob you throw in the microwave.

"What's new? What can we try? That's always the challenge," said Pennock.

Krawczyk, who's "always been Evans'," according to Pennock, began working at the store while he was in high school before partnering and eventually buying the business from its previous owners, Pat Ryan and sister Jere DeVito, in the 1980s.

Evans' News is open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hours expand in the evenings following Memorial Day.

The store is closed only four days of the year -- New Year's, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas -- and has a presence at nearly all downtown chamber functions.

There's also a second Evans' News location in Manchester on Memorial Avenue.

Contact Zeke Wright at ewright@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @zeke_wright