Editor’s Note: Imagine Nashua: Then & Now is a weekly photo column by Don Himsel. Each week, he will feature an old photo within a more recent photo and an explanation of how he got the shot.
Eddie Lavoie knew how to create a buzz.
The long windows at Eddie’s Bedding and Furniture were covered so you couldn’t see inside. A crowd had gathered on the sidewalk outside on Factory Street. Carl Desrosier, his Telegraph ad man, was there – front and right, wearing a hat.
“Eddie’s Bedding used to be known for some high-profile promotions,” said Eddie’s son, Bob.
“In late 1957, my father bought out Robert’s Furniture in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. He had known the owner for years and years. He ran that business out of business, took whatever inventory was left and trucked it into Nashua,” Bob Lavoie said. “The theme was ‘we bought out the inventory of Robert’s Furniture,’ and just promoted, promoted. I’d say that sale probably ran for the better part of 4-6 weeks.”
Lavoie explained the evolution of the family business.
“He was ahead of his time,” Lavoie said.
The existing Nashua Bedding became Pay and Take furniture. “It was in this building and my father was the one who signed the lease with the owner, who was from Manchester,” he told me.
His father was working for that company and knew when the building’s lease was going to be up. Lavoie said his father and the store’s owner didn’t see eye to eye, so he pulled away in 1952.
Lavoie said Eddie temporarily “rented a little pillbox of a building across the street.” He worked it out with the owner of the building at 34 Factory St. that when the lease was up, he’d get first dibs on the space. So when the time came, he approached Eddie. “As soon as they were gone, he was in there.”
In 1952, his father rented a building across the street at 17-21 Factory St. He put the two buildings together in 1959 and 1960.
“My father bought those in 1955 at the urging of Sam Tamposi,” Lavoie said. He’d need it at some point, Tamposi told Eddie.
“Sam was a visionary. He knew urban renewal was coming. He knew that (opposite) side of the street was going to disappear,” Lavoie said.
He rented that building and stayed there while 17 Factory was being renovated into one building. In 1961, it opened up. No. 34 soon saw the wrecking ball. “I believe that was the last building that was taken down for the urban renewal project,” Lavoie said.
Lavoie painted a picture of Factory Street undergoing change. The buildings adjacent to where Eddie was having his big sales were “beer joints,” he said. It was a mixed-use area, residential and commercial. There was a Lithuanian bakery on High Street; a French language newspaper was printed nearby. “Factory Street was a real buzzing business street, no question about it,” Lavoie said. “At one point, there were seven furniture stores on Factory Street.”
Eventually Eddie’s purchased CH Avery’s Furniture and changed the name to Avery’s Furniture. “The week between Christmas and New Year, 1992, we moved everything into the Avery’s building,” which was located where the Dalianis House is now, close to Clocktower Place, Lavoie said. Eddie’s Bedding and Furniture continued to exist, doing business as Avery’s Furniture. Avery’s is now gone, closing around 2008.
Looking back at the family’s business popularity, Desrosier “should get a lot of credit for my father’s success,” Lavoie said.
“There was something in there (The Nashua Telegraph) every week. Every week. When they had big promotions, that was a two-page spread,” he said.
“Carl was the one who put it out, ‘Eddie Sez, this week special on mattresses …’”
He remembers the economy in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and the campaign “Eddie’s Recession Riot: Who says we’re in a recession? This is what I’ve got to offer.”
Other sales reps wanted his ads, and Desrosier caught one taking a copy out of his office. “It was a wonder he didn’t shoot him right there,” Lavoie joked.
Lavoie remarks on today’s big box stores using personalities for promotions. His dad was doing it when it wasn’t yet the thing to do, he said.
Lavoie recognizes the downtown changes. “It’s different down there, no question about it. Altogether different. Is it for the better? I don’t know,” he said. “I can’t tell you that.”
Don Himsel can be reached at 594-6590 or DHimsel@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Himsel on Twitter @Telegraph_DonH.