Published December 31. 2013 4:00AM Updated January 01. 2014 12:25AM
Groton - Carson's Store, which has been in business in Noank for 106 years, will close - at least temporarily - on Jan. 2.
Dave Blacker, who has owned the store for decades, declined to comment Monday but did not deny it was closing.
"It's heartbreaking," said Mary Edgerton, who co-owns the nearby Universal Package Store with her husband, Mike. "As business owners, it's scary for us."
Folks in Noank know the diner-style store, with its lime green counter and dark green booths, not just for its penny candy and coffee, but for its gossip.
"Where else would you go?" asked Mike Edgerton.
"It's a Noank institution that Dave has kept running all these years that everybody loves and appreciates," said customer Dane Liston, who said he wants to get there one more time.
Liston works in Bethesda, Md., but said he bought coffee at Carson's most mornings for 22 years when he worked at Pfizer.
"I don't know the reasons for the closure. But I know everyone is really sad."
The store is open from 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will be open on New Year's Day.
Blacker wouldn't say why he made the decision or whether it was permanent. Groton Town Police confirmed Monday that the store was burglarized during the evening or early morning of Nov. 24-25. Lt. John Varone said the burglary is under investigation and there was evidence of a forced entry. He declined to comment on what was taken.
Businesses in Noank struggle during winter, and at least one closed in recent years. The Universal Food Store shut down in 2011, after Tropical Storm Irene knocked out power and the store lost thousands of dollars' worth of produce. The storefront did not remain empty, though, reopening as Noank Community Market.
Jane Carson started Carson's in 1907, first baking and selling pies and doughnuts to Noank Shipyard workers to support her young children and ailing husband. She bought the property at 43 Main St., where the store is now, in 1918.
Her son, Bernard Carson, took it over and ran it until 1972. When he retired at age 65, he said the store had been open seven days a week and he and his wife, Catherine, hadn't had a vacation in 10 years.
Ultimately, Blacker bought Carson's and renovated it, preserving the traditional New England feel.
"It just seems like it's the center of the community, really," said Rick Lunt, general manager of Noank Community Market. He said he hopes the closure is temporary. "It's where everybody goes to get their news. I mean, everybody you tell, they're just in shock."