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PHOTO CREDIT: C’ville Images / PHOTO CREDIT: C’ville Images /

THEN: A&N, closed in 2006 / NOW: Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar, opened in 2011

If you grew up in Charlottesville, you probably remember stopping by A&N in the summer to shop for back-to-school gear.

For several decades, A&N, a popular, Richmond-based sportswear chain founded in 1868, operated on the Downtown Mall (among other locations in Charlottesville and throughout Virginia) at 422 E. Main St. A&N—once known as Army-Navy Supply—was owned by the Sternheimer family, one of the “old-line families of Richmond retailing,” as one source described the business’s legacy to The Daily Progress when the chain shut down.

Prior to A&N, M.C. Thomas Furniture Co. operated at the 420-422 East Main St.address.

Built in 1920, the building that housed A&N was originally two stories, before the second story was either removed or compromised by a fire in the late 1960s, according to newspaper accounts. After A&N closed in late 2005, it became the local campaign office for Barack Obama, then an art gallery, and finally Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar, which opened in 2011. A second story of sorts was re-added in the form of a rooftop terrace at Commonwealth.

A&N shuttered its remaining stores in 2008, after 140 years in the business. The closing came as a result of “heavy competition from large national chains and increasing economic pressures on consumers,” The Virginian-Pilot then reported, marking the end of an era for many.

PHOTO CREDIT: C’ville Images /