FARMINGTON — Trask Jewelers closed its doors for the last time on New Year’s Eve, ending a run that began when Franklin Pierce was president and Abraham Lincoln was practicing law.

The business was run by three different families during its existence and has been a fixture of downtown Farmington for 159 years.

Owner John Anderson, wearing a collared shirt, tie, and magnifiers attached to his glasses, stood behind a half-empty case of watches and observed last-minute customers browse for the final time Wednesday afternoon. He and the store’s two full-time employees retired when it closed at 5 p.m. after a rush of last-minute repairs and sales.

Anderson, 62, had been working at Trask Jewelers for 40 years, having bought the shop from his father 30 years ago. He is retiring to spend time with his 95-year-old father, Paul Anderson.

Anderson said the Main Street jewelery store was opened in 1855 by J.A. Blake and run by his family until 1928, when Blake’s watchmaker, L.G. Trask, took over the business.

Paul Anderson bought the business in 1955, and in 1981 passed it on to his son.

“But this time I couldn’t find anyone to take it over,” John Anderson said.

By succeeding his father in the business, Anderson beat the odds. About 30 percent of businesses are passed on to the second generation in the family, according to the Family Business Institute, a consulting group based in Raleigh, N.C.

Anderson takes pride in the store’s longevity downtown, noting that it survived the Great Depression as well as recessions, though Anderson said he thinks people have started to value the personal nature of a small business less and value shopping online and chain stores more.

“The small brick-and-mortar stores have a hard time,” he said.

Gloria McGraw, owner of County Seat Realty, which is down the block from Trask, said she thought Anderson deserved recognition for his tenure as a Farmington business owner.

“He’s been here for many years and (was) just a landmark for downtown Farmington,” she said.

Anderson said he was inspired by a Farmington grocery store owner who once told him that he didn’t maintain his business from the money made in one-time sales, but from the money he made in sale after sale over the years from lifetime customers.

“If we treat you right, it’s what we make over a lifetime,” he said.

His father, who lives in Florida, still repairs watches, and John Anderson said he might continue to do some repair work in his retirement.

Though Anderson is ready to be done with his demands of running the store, he enjoyed his time as a business owner in Farmington, which he described as a “Norman Rockwell kind of town.”

He said running the store demanded 60- to 70-hour workweeks and he was unable to find someone to buy the business and put in the work a store like his takes.

“You wear a lot of hats,” he said.

Kaitlin Schroeder can be contacted at 861-9252 or at:

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