A Changing Scene where Mr. Bob's Used to Be
A Journey into River Edge, New Jersey
They’re busily at work at the south end of town, “refreshing” and “modernizing” a property at the corner of Kinderkamack and Main Street.
Change is inevitable. But as the new façade was being constructed it got me to thinking again about what was once there and about the neighboring local business landscape that has changed so much as well.
The site of what is expected to be a new Seven-Eleven used to be home of a laundry business. When it arrived in about 1960 Topps Cleaners was a new modern state of the art facility that replaced residences and small businesses which was targeted to give Brackett Cleaners across the street at the Cherry Hill Shopping Center a run for its money,
Brackett Cleaners did survive for another for 48 years before the Huffman-Koos building was demolished just before a local mayoral election as a sign of “progress” (leaving an abandoned property for years until it was finally rebuilt into the new strip mall that includes the new Dunkin’ Donuts, Habit Burger, Sports Clips, CVS and Total Wine in the place of the River Edge Deli, River Edge Hardware and Nicky’s Barber Shop (later Hair Salon).
Topp’s Cleaners soon became Mr. Bob’s Cleaners and a local mainstay itself. Mr. Bob’s multiple signs reassured us that they did shirts, dresses, laundering and tailoring – all with same day services. There was also a shoe repair service, which today still continues a few doors down the road on the other side of the train tracks (in what used to be a barber shop).
Mr. Bob’s was also a good neighbor as longtime sponsors of Little League teams.
Over time, folks moved, so did businesses – as did lifestyles. What little there was of a local community feel started to disappear as merchants and their customers started to reflect a new generation and different lifestyle preferences.
Bit by bit stalwart community businesses were gone – names still recalled like Manor Pharmacy, the Variety Bake Shop, the Riverside Market, The A&P (Foodtown), Honey Dew (Shop Rite) and Jay’s Fish Market
Folks have long anticipated changes now taking place at this address. However, many of us had been led to believe that these changes would more reflect a vision that had been cast for the parcel and the neighborhood – one encouraging a local citizen and pedestrian friendly business core.
The new business will likely be a welcome addition to our town. So will be a renovated M&T Bank, successor to Hudson City, which has been there on Main Street for almost 40 years now.
I suppose in won’t be too long that those now on the scene will themselves become “old-timers” and provide a point of reference and comparison between what the present and what used to be there a long time ago.