AYER -If you're missing the sights of men's work and casual fashions in the P.N. Laggis storefront at 67 Main Street, you're in luck.
On Monday, Aug. 13, the clothier officially reopens for business.
The store closed after sustaining extensive smoke damage in the wake of the catastrophic June 18 five alarm fire in the neighboring building at 63 Main Street.
The blaze destroyed two businesses and left ten people homeless when the "Roux" or "Subway" building burned, leaving a hulking structurally-unsound structure. Only the foundation of the building remains following demolition. The resulting hole is skirted by chain link fence.
Back at the men's clothing store, "We got rid of everything," said owner Nick Laggis, 60 - the
Nick's father, Peter N. Laggis, 86, had still been working four hours each day at the store despite his 'retirement.' Nick Laggis said his father was "devastated" upon hearing news of the fire.
The disaster has also provided an unnatural extended break for salesman Bob Schick, who's worked at the store for the past 56 years.
Nick Laggis, who has worked at the store for 46 years, found the closure to be jarring. "I've never had so much time off in my life. Now I'm going to get back to work with a shirt and tie on every day."
In settling the claim with his insurance company, the store was scrubbed from attic to basement
The 14-store Maine salvage chain store Marden's removed the entire smoke damaged inventory. Laggis said he didn't want customers to have any lingering question about the quality of the clothing they'd be purchasing when P.N. Laggis reopens.
"A hundred years of stuff" was purged from the store. Laggis said the store has never been so empty.
"Everything's new...we got rid of everything," said Laggis.
Laggis held off on
Laggis was in the store opening boxes, hanging clothes and restocking empty shelves when talking to this reporter.
Laggis stopped to help a customer looking for a pair of shorts. The man was from out of town, has been a regular customer, and was oblivious to the fact that a major fire took place next door.
"I wasn't going to turn him away," said Laggis, who found a pair of shorts in the man's size, completed the sale, and sent the happy customer on his way.
Laggis said he was alerted to the early morning fire on June 18 and went down to stand on the sidewalk to watch the firefighters scramble in the dark. It was clear the situation was "not good." Heavy smoke poured and flames leapt into the nighttime air.
"They did an excellent job saving the building," said Laggis of the Ayer Fire Department and crews from surrounding departments who provided an assist in the fire fight. Their skill saved surrounding buildings, such as Laggis' store, from more serious loss.
When he was allowed into his store briefly at 3 a.m. when firefighters entered to ensure the fire hadn't spread next door, Laggis said the damage to his store was clear. "You could smell it. It was strong."
A big air scrubber fan loaned by the fire department cleared the heavy smoke but the damage had been done. Everything had to go.
"The store had never been stripped down," said Laggis. "It's never been this clean or empty."
When reordering, Laggis said he tried to "add a few new lines." Stay tuned for news of new brands, Laggis hinted.
As he restocked, Laggis reflected on the major commercial presence that 63 Main Street had played in the downtown economy. Spaced just three feet from his store at the closest point, Laggis recalled that 63 Main Street had long contained "a market downstairs."
"Upstairs was a tailor and dry cleaning shop" run by the late Jane Mento, recalled Laggis. Mento, an Ayer resident, passed away at age 99, working side-by-side with his family downtown.
"If the fire happened five years from now, I might have retired," pondered Laggis, who is a grandfather of four. Laggis lives in Ayer with his wife Donna.
But retirement isn't in the cards. The Laggis family is restocked, reloaded - and ready to retail.
P.N. Laggis is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The store is closed on Sundays.
The store's website is www.pnlaggis.com and the telephone number is (978) 772-2619. "Like" the store on Facebook at "P.N. Laggis Co., Inc."
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