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Clopman’s Furniture in Massena to close

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MASSENA — Clopman’s Furniture, one of Massena’s longest running businesses and a downtown mainstay for decades, is closing.

Co-managers Frank and Miriam Catapano have decided to retire and shutter the Main Street store after 83 years of family ownership. Clearance sales began Thursday, and the business will close after the merchandise is liquidated.

Mr. Catapano said the couple’s grown children had left the area and there was no one else to take over.

“I reached the point in my life when I recognized more of it is behind me than ahead of me,” Mr. Catapano, 66, said.

“We had a great run. It’s been great serving the community. Hopefully, we’ll leave on an up note,” he said. “All things must pass.”

Mrs. Catapano’s grandfather, Louis Clopman, opened the store on Water Street in 1929 after emigrating from Eastern Europe. Her father, Harry, 97, ran it for decades, as did her brother, Joseph, who retired in 2008. Mr. and Mrs. Catapano began working there 20 years ago.

Clopman’s was one of the last holdouts from a once-bustling business district. Shoppers could walk from M.H. Fishman’s Five and Dime to J.J. Newberry’s to Slavin and Shulkin Furniture and Jewelry to Clopman’s, all within a few blocks on Main and Water streets.

H. Olin Peets, 90, who started Peets Jewelers in 1950, likened downtown Massena in its heyday to Times Square, with no storefront vacancies and plenty of foot traffic.

“We had mighty good times down there,” Mr. Peets said. “We had drugstores. We had nice men’s stores. You could get anything downtown.”

“The camaraderie — that’s what made downtown,” he said.

One by one, those stores closed, except for Clopman’s. The village tore down much of the former Slavin and Shulkin complex two years ago. St. Lawrence County took title to the former Fishman’s building, now Sunrise Plaza, last fall. A fire destroyed a couple of buildings across the street from Clopman’s four years ago and nothing has been built in their place.

But Clopman’s remained committed to downtown, Mr. Catapano said. The Clopman family moved the store in 1956 from Water Street to Main, where it has remained ever since.

“We believed in the downtown. We had opportunities to relocate outside of town,” he said. “The family decided downtown was a good place to be, so we stayed.”

Mr. Catapano said Clopman’s and other family-owned businesses in Massena close because there is no younger generation to keep them going.

“Nothing is forever,” he said. “We’re not a multinational company. We’re not a chain. We’re a family-owned business.”

Mrs. Catapano said Clopman’s has served many generations of Massena families.

“We’re thankful and grateful to the community for 83 years of patronage, partnership and support they’ve given us,” Mrs. Catapano added. “That’s why we’ve been here 83 years.”

Harry Clopman is a Massena native. Years ago, Clopman’s served the employees of the paper mills, General Motors and other industries in the north country, he said.

“We enjoyed doing business in Massena with all the folks we knew,” he said.

Thursday afternoon, orange clearance stickers dotted the remaining merchandise in the store. Customers and old friends stopped in. Ann C. Taylor, 70, of Massena had shopped there for more than 30 years and was in search of a sofa.

“The service has always been excellent. You can’t forget quality,” she said. “The way you’re treated when you come into a store really means quite a lot.”

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