Andover Video Owner Zappala Dies, Prompting Close of Downtown Store

When Phillips Academy students visit Andover Video for the first time this fall, everything will probably seem just business as usual: the lower level will still house the new releases, and videos will still cost $3.50 per day. The difference, however, will be that owner Bill Zappala, a Lynnfield, MA, native who founded the store in 1992 and passed away at age 57 on July 21, will no longer stand behind the counter to advise customers on what movies to choose or to help them check out. Because of Mr. Zappala’s death and large national chain stores’ recent expansion, the downtown Andover community faces further change. Already the area has seen a family-run restaurant become a Starbucks and numerous other “mom and pop” establishments go out of business. The space that Andover Video now occupies appears likely to become a Dunkin’ Donuts, which plans to move to the larger space from its current location across Main Street. On another yet less far-reaching level, Phillips Academy students will lose the only video store within walking distance of campus. course, students and other customers are not the only ones sad to hear the news of Mr. Zappala’s passing: his coworkers at Andover Video lost an adored boss. Current employee and Andover High student Chris Cole said, “[Mr. Zappala] always had a smile on his face…he knew everybody, their names, their phone numbers and what movies they liked. He was the man to know.” He added, “When I was in eighth grade, he hired me here, and I have loved the last three years I’ve worked here. … Bill was a great guy to work for.” Known for his community spirit, Mr. Zappala would consult his employees before every new hire and the store clerks always knew that they could take time off for school events without fear of punishment and could also count on Mr. Zappala for rides home. After Mr. Zappala’s death, the local newspaper, The Andover Townsman, received an outpouring of letters from customers and friends remembering how pleasant Mr. Zappala made their movie renting experience. An editorial piece in the July 31 edition of The Townsman stated, “[Mr. Zappala] made a special connection with the families and individuals who came into his small store. … People like Bill Zappala are the people who turn a town into a community. The community of Andover mourns his loss.” While it is certain that Andover Video will leave 93 North Main Street and that Dunkin’ Donuts will take its place, the exact date of the change remains up in the air. Cole said, “The future is unknown. We’re not sure when the change will happen.” As of now, students do not know whether they will be visiting 93 North Main this Halloween to pick up either their favorite horror movies or pumpkin donuts. With the closing of Andover Video, students will look elsewhere for films. The first place students should go to fill the entertainment void is the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library, which has a large collection and a rapidly growing DVD selection, but fewer new movies. Students with car access may turn to Blockbuster Video in North Andover to meet their rental needs, but that location is far away and out of reach for much of the campus. At this point, Mr. Zappala’s wife, Karen, is taking care of the store, but does not plan to do so for long. In an interview with The Boston Globe, she said bluntly, “My husband was the business.” Like Cole, Mrs. Zappala is unaware of any specific date for the store’s official closing, only telling The Globe that the store will remain open until Dunkin’ Donuts can finalize its plans with Andover’s Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board. Until then, however, she is grateful that people are still patronizing the store even though her husband is gone. Mr. Zappala is survived by Karen, his three daughters Kimberly Burke, Brittany, and Alex, and six grandchildren.