”Route 1 was being made into a modern highway, and my grandfather was trying to think of something he could do to take advantage of that,” Eric said, “And he liked candy. So, he decided to open a candy shop.”
The barn, which has been added on to over the years, became the core of the store after it was moved closer to the road.
The 2 acres of land within the cloverleaf from Route 62 to Route 1 north is all that is left of a farm that once had more than 100 acres.
”Over the years, it’s been chipped away at, taken for roads, taken for the state hospital was a big piece of it,” Eric Emerson said. The land wasn’t sold as much as it was acquired by the state.
About 1960, Putnam Pantry started to make and sell ice cream at a second store across the highway along Route 1 south, where Supino’s Restaurant sits today. They stopped making ice cream about 1970 and closed the location across the highway. The business still makes its own toppings. It was about this time that Galo Emerson Jr., Eric Emerson’s father, bought the business from his father and consolidated it.
Putnam Pantry once had locations in Lexington, Reading and on Pickering Wharf in Salem, but these closed in the early 1990s.
While the Emersons renovate the original Putnam Pantry, they have no plans to open a second location in the near future.
”There are lot of candy and ice cream stores; they are very local,” Eric Emerson said. “Our draw, because of the fact we have been here so long, is wider. That makes us a little less susceptible to the ebb and flow of things.”
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.